When Inger Klein Olsen assumed command of Cunard’s Queen Victoria on Wednesday 1 December 2010, she made history by becoming the venerable shipping line’s first female Captain. But her first task as Captain was simply to take the ship, without passengers, to drydock in Hamburg for its planned refit. Next Wednesday (15 December), though, she will be on the bridge as the ship sets sail with a full complement of passengers.
43-year-old Captain Olsen was born and brought up in the Faroe Islands, which goes some way to explaining her maritime abilities, and she joined Cunard in 1997 as First Officer on board Caronia. In 2001 she transferred to the Seabourn fleet – at that time part of Cunard. She sailed in Seabourn Sun and Seabourn Spirit before being promoted to rank of Staff Captain in Seabourn Pride in 2003.
Following some years with other companies within the Carnival group, Captain Olsen returned to Cunard in August this year as Deputy Captain of Queen Victoria.
Commenting on the new appointment, Cunard’s President and Managing Director, Peter Shanks, says:
“While we are far from being the first shipping company to have a female Captain, it is nonetheless noteworthy when such a long-established British institution as Cunard makes a break with its captaincy tradition. But as Mark Twain drily observed, ‘the folks at Cunard wouldn’t appoint Noah himself as Captain until he had worked his way up through the ranks’. Inger has certainly done that, and we are delighted to welcome her as our first woman driver”.
Captain Olsen now lives in Denmark.