Empowering Women in the Maritime Community Feature

Since being founded in 1983 under the auspices of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the World Maritime University (WMU) has been committed to the advancement of women. To further the efforts to achieve the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, and in honour of the IMO World Maritime Day theme for 2019, "Empowering Women in the Maritime Community," WMU is featuring meritorious persons and organizations throughout 2019 to present perspectives on gender equality in the maritime sector. In this feature, we focus on Celebrity Cruises.

Patrik Dahlgren

Senior Vice President
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
Celebrity Cruises & Global Marine Operations


What plans/programmes has Celebrity Cruises put in place to promote the participation of women in maritime professions, and for advancing their maritime careers?

Celebrity Cruises has proudly made increasing gender diversity a top priority.  In 2014 a goal was set to increase the female bridge officers to 20 percent, and this was accomplished within that year.  We enacted a strategy to disrupt our own gender distribution by aggressively recruiting women officers, exemplified by the promotion of Captain Kate McCue in 2015, the first American woman to captain a cruise ship for a publicly traded cruise line. 

After this initial disruption we focused our efforts on sustaining these leaps in equality.  Global partnerships with WMU and more than 10 other maritime universities worldwide has allowed us to develop a diversified talent pipeline into our cadet program.  Relationships such as these and the pioneering partnership with the Ghana Regional Maritime University has led to our incoming Spring class of Deck and Engine cadets to be composed of 58% women.  Our cadet program aims to reduce traditional barriers to entry, and we continue to see this investment paying dividends as women now compose 25 percent of our fleet bridge teams, a figure well ahead of all maritime industry standards.

With all of our partnerships Celebrity Cruises aims to make statements about the missions driving us, and with this in mind Malala Yousafzai was name the Godmother of our newest vessel in 2018, the Celebrity Edge.  Malala Yousafzai, the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, uses her organization to give women access to education that would otherwise have been impossible due to poverty, war, and discrimination.  Partnering with the Malala Fund was a natural fit as both our organizations share the same passion and commitment to this incredible cause of leveling the gender playing fields.

All of these efforts and many more by Celebrity Cruises have not gone unnoticed, as our corporation was named one of the Best Companies for Diversity by Forbes in 2019, and one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies by Ethisphere for the fourth year in a row.


Celebrity Cruises is a sponsor for the WMU Empowering Women in the Maritime Community Conference. What is the motivation for Celebrity to fund the event?

Celebrity Cruises’ brand purpose is to “Open Up the World” for our guests, crew and employees.  Our values mirror those of WMU and we share a commitment to attracting more women into our industry at all levels across the board.  Since 2015 Celebrity Cruises has partnered with WMU in advocating for the cause of gender equality and driving this issue through multiple platforms.  They have been a powerful industry ally with whom we proudly share the stage and support wholeheartedly in their ambition for gender balance, diversity and inclusion, and global awareness for women in the maritime field.


You are the Senior Vice President for Celebrity Cruises Marine Operations, as well as the Global Marine Organization for RCCL.  How has your personal journey prepared you for this role?

My career following completion of Nautical Science studies at Kalmar University, began as a bridge officer with tugboat, yachts, and an array of cargo vessels.  I then spent 15 years on Royal Caribbean International cruise ships rising through the ranks, with my last station being Master of the Oasis of the Seas carrying 6,500 passengers with a crew of 2,500.  I was then afforded an opportunity to join the shore side organization.  Throughout my career, shipboard and shore side, I have made the most of my leadership roles to make the sustainability development goals a priority, with particular emphasis on #5, gender equality.  I am a firm believer in giving back to my community and the world community, leading as an example everywhere I can and hoping to inspire others to do the same.


The CEO of Celebrity Cruises, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, assumed the helm of Celebrity in 2014 and is the first woman to run a publicly traded cruise line. What sparked her interest in a maritime career, and how did her career evolve? 

Lisa Lutoff-Perlo was the first woman President & CEO of a publicly-traded cruise line.  She has worked within the RCCL family of brands for 34 years, working her way up from a travel agent in Gloucester, Massachusetts.  She has held roles in sales, hotel operations and marketing in both Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises.  She is proud that in her role she has the opportunity to promote and support attracting more women into the maritime industry across all departments at land and at sea.  In addition, she also runs the Global Marine Organization across the RCCL fleet of 51 ships and is the first woman to do so.  It has been an incredible experience being able to work closely with someone who is just as impassioned about gender equality and the other sustainability development goals as I am. 


Celebrity Cruises has positioned itself as a champion of diversity.  What has driven this commitment to diversity and specifically the advancement of women?

Celebrity Cruises is driven towards selling amazing “modern luxury” vacations all around the world, but we have chosen to do it on a foundation of things that we care about.  More and more, consumers are educating themselves and carefully selecting the companies that they engage with and give their money to.  This applies to not only consumers, but to the next generation of great seafarers as well.  Consumers and workforce talent want companies to share the ideals that they consider important.  We believe that there are massive opportunities to differentiate ourselves through purpose, and that all modern organizations should prioritize and capitalize on every chance to do the right thing.  Whether it is to the environment, diversity and inclusion, or promoting gender equality, Celebrity Cruises believes in opening up the world for guests, crew and everyone they come in contact with.

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