Kathryn Whittaker becomes the first female Canadian cruise ship captain

Apr 12, 2018

The German cruise operator Sea Cloud Cruises has announced the promotion of Kathryn Whittaker to captain of the 5-star cruise ship SEA CLOUD II. Whittaker is the first female Canadian captain of a passenger cruise ship and first female captain in the fleet of SEA CLOUD CRUISES.

Whittaker grew up in St. Thomas, Ontario and her unconventional path to captainship didn’t start at an early age in the maritime academy. While she was at the university in Toronto she took time off and worked on touring boats in Toronto Harbor for 3 years, and then joined SEA CLOUD as a deckhand in 1996.

She did most of her training privately and achieved her certifications by passing the exams through various Canadian Maritime schools. Her captainship experience was achieved on various sail training ships, including 5 years as Captain of Bytown Brigantine and small passenger sailing vessels in the British Virgin Islands. After Whittaker held the position of Chief Officer for 2 years with Canadian Sailing Expeditions.

Prior to being promoted to captain, she held the position of a chief officer on the SEA CLOUD II for 6 years.  As captain of 94-passenger cruise ship, she will now head every department and commands the mostly male nautical and technical officers. “Growing up as the only girl with 4 older brothers, prepared me well to work in this field. I had to prove myself on this ship and have over the years gained the respect of the crew,” said Whittaker.  

“When the opportunity arose for our crewing manager to promote Whittaker, who conveys dedication and love for her job, to captain the decision was easy,” said Daniel Schäfer, Managing Director of SEA CLOUD CRUISES. He added, “In a very male-dominated industry, we are thrilled to have a very qualified woman for the highest position on a ship.”