Meeting Captain Inger Klein Olsen on Cunard Line’s Queen Victoria

Welcome to my hood!

Yesterday, Cunard Line’s Queen Victoria called on the Port of Los Angeles’s World Cruise Center in San Pedro. I was invited onboard for a little one-on-one time with the Captain and to experience a wonderful ship tour and reception.

May I present Captain Inger Klein Olsen …

Carrie Finley-Bajak and Captain Inger Klein Olsen on Queen Victoria in Los Angeles

Once onboard, I was escorted behind the “crew only” door to the inner-sanctum of Queen Victoria’s bridge compound. And there, just like that, working at her desk was Cunard Line’s first female captain taking care of business. Immediately, I could tell this was a woman after my own heart.

Captain Olsen was quick to smile and made me feel welcome. I expressed my gratitude for the opportunity and then we got down to business.

The following video takes place on the bridge where Captain Olsen answers my questions about a multitude of topics including: getting the keys to Queen Victoria, the tandem Transatlantic sailing, the huge spectacular in New York celebrating the “Three Queens” of the fleet in one place, family cruising, navigating Stockholm, and life in the Faroe Islands.

After my “15 minutes of fame,” Captain Olsen and I went back to her office. During this time, I asked her some of my random questions.

Q. How do you like your office décor?

A. Perhaps more photographs of the actual ports would be nice.

Q. Do you have any brothers or sisters?

A. Yes. Three younger brothers.

Q. What’s behind that door?

A. My cabin.

You get the idea.

Because Captain Olsen was so easy to talk to, she taught me a lot without even knowing it. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Queen Victoria is a true Ocean Liner. That means that the ship is longer than a traditional cruise ship.
  • Sailing into Stockholm is contingent upon the wind. Cruisers that sail into Scandinavia’s capital will dock in the city or outside the city. Also, the long narrow entry into Stockholm is full of “tight turns.”
  • Family Cruising. Seeing is believing. I saw quite a number of children embarking on Queen Victoria. This was a total surprise to me. Captain Olsen told me that Cunard Line is for everyone. Good to know.
  • A good Captain will allow rotation of leadership so that there is even distribution of power.
  • Inger Klein Olsen was born and grew up on the Faroe Islands. She left school at 16 with the goal of settling down as wife and mother. Although she did not get the mother part, she did get the love of her life part.
  • It was the call of the sea and a passion for travel that brought Captain Olsen to the ships. She tried her hand as a stewardess on a cargo ship, but quickly realized that she loathed cleaning.
  • Life at sea was her calling, and in 1989 Inger moved to Denmark and joined DFDS Scandinavian Seaways as a cadet. The rest is history.

What I have in common with Captain Olsen

Okay. I know this is not a story about me, but I have to say that Captain Olsen and I have something in common: We both have broken the gender barrier. For me it was in high school on the boys water polo team, for Captain Olsen it was at Cunard Line. Not that they are the same, but as a woman I can appreciate some of the challenges of playing on a predominantly male team.

For me, to be able to meet the first woman captain of a Cunard Line vessel was truly an honor. Spending some time with the woman that shattered the 171-year-old tradition of having a male at the helm of a Cunard Line ship is a dream come true.

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