EXCLUSIVE: Kate McCue to captain new Celebrity Beyond cruise ship marking career 'culmination'

Morgan Hines

Captain Kate McCue, the first and only American woman to captain a major cruise ship, is embarking on a new leg of her career by captaining the Celebrity Beyond which is expected to launch in April 2022. 

"To say 'I'm honored' is an understatement," McCue, 43, who has been working in the industry for two decades, told USA TODAY. "This is a culmination of a career."

McCue previously captained Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Edge, which was the first ship to sail with passengers in U.S. waters since the beginning of the pandemic, since 2019. And before she captained the Edge, she served as captain of Celebrity Summit, a role she entered in 2015 and also was captain of Celebrity Equinox before joining the Edge.

Captain Kate McCue will captain the Celebrity Beyond, Celebrity Cruises' newest vessel, launching in April 2022.

The Beyond is the first ship she will captain from its launch.

Celebrity Cruises president and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo said that McCue mirrors "the exceptional design and imagination" of the ship by constantly going the extra mile.

The Beyond, which Celebrity touts as its largest and most luxurious ship to date, is scheduled to set sail on a Western Europe cruise from Southampton, England on April 27 for 10 nights with McCue at the helm.

The ship will make stops in Bordeaux, Lisbon, Seville, Malaga Palma de Mallorca and Barcelona.

The Edge Series collection also includes Celebrity Apex and Celebrity Edge. In total, Celebrity's fleet will contain 15 ships with the addition of Beyond.

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"This is a day that I've been waiting for since we made the first cut of steel of this beautiful vessel. Captain Kate has transcended what it means to be a captain by being a rudder for the industry as a voice and example of inclusivity, diversity, and change," Lutoff-Perlo said. 

Captain Kate looking at Celebrity Beyond

McCue has known about her next career move since April but kept quiet about the news. "I didn't want to jinx it. Because we never know what can happen," she said, referencing the COVID-19 pandemic that kept the industry shuttered for more than a year in the U.S.

The captain finally saw the ship on Saturday at a shipyard in France where it will live until sea trials begin in January. Seeing Beyond, McCue said, gave her "goosebumps on goosebumps."

The 1,073-foot-long vessel, which will be able to host 3,260 passengers in 1,646 staterooms is the third ship in the Royal Caribbean Group subsidiary's Edge Series.

"In January, I'll join full time in the yard until her completion," McCue said of the Beyond. "She is pretty far along. She's actually ahead of schedule right now, which is perfect. But the sea trials are scheduled for January 20. And I will be in France for that which we're really looking forward to because that's when, of course, you know, we we can test all the bells and whistles."