It can be a hard world for women in the professional sphere but the cruise industry is making strides towards creating more opportunities for women aspiring to be seafarers. In concert with these efforts, the Nautical Institute held a Women in Maritime event this week onboard P&O Cruises’ Pacific Explorer. Nautical Institute and its guests were welcomed aboard the Explorer by six officers who are currently involved with a mentoring program as part of their journey toward becoming senior deck officers on cruise ships.
Each of these women have previously worked on cargo ships, bulk carriers or offshore rigs, but they are now all part of a program which fosters opportunities for women to forge a place within the maritime industry. Melissa Yates, accomplished Hotel Director and daughter of a retired ship captain who worked her way up through the ranks to reach her senior position, is supporting these women in their journey aboard the Pacific Explorer.
“There are many women working on cruise ships and, during my years at sea, I have always been and felt accepted as part of the team,” Melissa said. “But it is distressing when I hear women tell me that their experience was quite different in other areas of shipping. It makes me realise how fortunate I have been.”
According to the Nautical Institute, women only make up 2% of the world’s seafarers - in light of this, the institute is endeavoring to raise awareness of how certain barriers can be addressed which discourage women from pursuing a professional life at sea.
In spite of the difficulties faced women in the cruise industry and beyond, concrete progress has certainly been made in recent years. Milestones like Celebrity Cruises appointing their first ever American female captain, and the same line placing Nathaly Albán of Ecuador at the helm of the Celebrity Xploration. The future of women in cruising is getting brighter by the day, but there’s no question that a lot more work still needs to be done before we come close to gender equality on the high seas.