Life of a Captain: Q&A with Cunard’s Only Female Captain, Inger Thorhauge

By Carole Annett

8 months ago

A peek behind the scenes of a captain's day-to-day

Inger Thorhauge is the only female captain at cruise ship group Cunard, and was recently chosen to take the helm of their new ship, Queen Anne, launching next spring. Currently the ship is being fitted out at a shipyard in Italy, painted and adorned with interiors by the likes of Sybille de Margerie and David Collins Studio. She will be handed over to Captain Inger in six months time before her inaugural voyage to Lisbon. We caught up with her to find out more.

Q&A with Inger Thorhauge, Cunard’s Only Female Captain

Inger Thorhauge

Is this the biggest ship you have captained?

Yes. This is a new ship, no-one else has driven her or put their mark on her, she is mine! I can’t wait to be a part of her life. 

What is your role as captain?

It’s varied: as captain, you don’t actually steer that much. You put her alongside and take her off the berth and sail her out of the port and then officers drive her from A to B. There is a huge hierarchy – deputy captain, chief engineer and hotel manager who all report to me, plus I deal with safety and the guests. I also conduct weddings on board and host a dinner every 14 days. All part of my remit – the conductor in charge of the orchestra.

What is your background?

I grew up on Faroe Islands, next to the sea and always wanted to see the world. I started at 16 on cargo ship as a stewardess going to Norway, Sweden and the UK. I thought it was great, being paid to travel. Someone suggested I apply as a cadet so that’s what I did. After studying and cadet school I couldn’t wait to be on one of the big cruise ships I saw all around me – I couldn’t wait to be part of that life.

What is your work schedule?

As a captain you have responsibilities 24/7. I don’t get any days off.

Will you be using the spa and dining in all the restaurants on board?

Yes! Part of the job is to ensure all the services are as good as we say they are. If a restaurant manager knows I am dining he will ask me to give an honest review. Guests also like to see the captain using the spa and then they’ll say, ‘oh, it must be good, I’ll go’. 

What is your uniform?

A traditional suit with braiding on the jacket denoting rank. But we are going to make a more flattering uniform for the female form so it’ll be different when we launch. It has to be comfortable and smart. I am wearing the same style of suit that was worn on the Titanic so I think it’s time for a change.