Sea Cloud Cruises announced it has promoted Kathryn Whittaker to captain of the 94-passenger Sea Cloud II.
Whittaker is the first female Canadian captain of a passenger cruise ship, the company said, and the first female captain for Sea Cloud.
Whittaker’s path to captain is an unconventional one. Her family doesn’t consist of sailors, and her voyage didn’t start at an early age in maritime academy. While at university in Toronto she took time off from school and worked on touring boats in Toronto Harbor for three years, and then made her way to Sea Cloud as a deck hand in 1996. This first position on a sailing ship sealed her fate, and began her journey into securing her captain’s license.
Whittaker did most of her training privately and achieved her certifications by passing the required exams through various Canadian Maritime schools. Whittaker’s hand-on experience was achieved on various sail training ships and small passenger sailing vessels in the British Virgin Islands, where she held various positions including chef, first mate and training captain. She then held the position of Chief Officer for two years with Canadian Sailing Expeditions.
Prior to being promoted last month to captain, she held the position of chief officer for six years. As chief officer on the Sea Cloud II Whittaker was responsible for the ship’s maintenance and overall ship security.
“Growing up as the only girl with four 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.”
Whittaker grew up in St. Thomas, Ontario and when not at sea, she now calls Ottawa home.