When Cunard’s new ship, Queen Anne, embarks on her maiden voyage in January 2024, she will do so with Captain Inger Klein Thorhauge at the helm. She has already made her mark during her 25 years with Cunard, becoming the cruise line’s first female captain. We caught up with her to discuss her career and what guests can expect from Cunard’s fourth Queen.
Where did your career as a Captain begin, and at what age did you realise it’s what you wanted to do?
My sea time started at the age of 16 on a cargo ship where I was a stewardess – I quickly realised that I really enjoyed the sailing part, but not so much the cleaning! So, I waited to pursue a career at sea and it was then I realised I needed to pick the area I wanted to specialise in. I worked my way up through the ranks, before achieving my Master’s license in 1994. My career as Captain started in 2010 on Queen Victoria, which I was very honoured and proud of.
What is your favourite port of call, and is there anywhere you haven’t previously sailed to that you would like to visit?
I don’t really have a favourite port of call – it is more the entire world I enjoy exploring – as each area is so special in its own way. I have been lucky enough to sail around the world several times and by now have explored what I have wanted to see. Now it is time to explore even more of the wonderful locations we visit with Cunard and our guests.
You have been with Cunard for over two decades, have you ever had the opportunity to captain a new ship before?
I have not captained a brand new ship before so this is such a privilege. All the necessary protocols have to be set up from the start, so there is a lot of work that will need to be done prior to taking Queen Anne on her maiden voyage.
Which part of Queen Anne are you looking forward to seeing first?
The entire ship to be honest. As this is a brand new ship, all of it will be exciting to see. Like many, I have seen some of the exquisite designs but to see Queen Anne in all her glory and to be one of the first to do so will be a great honour.
What are the first tasks you do in the morning as Captain?
If it’s a day when we are in port, our arrival time will dictate when I wake up. A 6am arrival will usually mean I’m up long before dawn to help navigate the ship through whatever local conditions we face. On a sea day, I’m typically up around 5:30am. I’m always on the Bridge during arrival and departure from a port, and often on days at sea as well. I will go through all the tracks with the navigator and approve them. The last task I do before I head to bed is check the speed of the ship.
How often do you get the chance to interact with guests?
It’s important to remember that the cruise industry is a hospitality business, so I see myself as a host. We generally hold a number of big parties during our guests’ time on board and I walk through the ship once or twice a day. When we’re at sea, I will make a midday announcement about our navigational progress and let them know about weather conditions.
For me, hearing guests’ feedback that they have enjoyed their experience at the end of their voyage makes me so proud of the entire crew.
What, in your opinion, makes the experience of sailing with Cunard so special?
The heritage and legacy of Cunard is very important, and, of course, our crew. They remain dedicated to delivering the very best service for our guests and upholding our White Star Service standards, and this is what makes Cunard so special and unique.
Interested in setting sail on board Queen Anne? Take a look at the selection of cruises here.