First black female cruise ship captain takes the helm

Posted by Gabrielle Jacobs on 4 September 2019

This year Captain Belinda Bennett became the first black female captain in the commercial cruise industry.

Bennett, who was raised on the British territory of St Helena just off of South Africa’s Atlantic coast, left her island home as a teenager to broaden her horizons and pursue a career in maritime studies near Newcastle, England.

Captain Belinda Bennett. Images: Benjamin Arthur Photography/Windstar Cruises.

Aged 17, Captain Bennett started as a deck cadet on her home island ship the RMS St. Helena – a cargo ship that transports vital supplies to the remote island.

She worked her way up to Third Officer in four years and moved up again by the time she left five years later. Bennett joined Windstar Cruises as Second Officer at the Port of Monaco in 2005.

Today Belinda Bennett is a Master Mariner, which means she is qualified to captain merchant vessels carrying passengers and cargo.

Captain Bennett and HRH Princess Anne. Image: Windstar Cruises.

Last year she was awarded the 2018 Merchant Navy Medal for Meritorious Service by HRH Princess Anne.

Bennett is also one of the Telegraph‘s nominees for the 2019’s most pioneering woman in travel in the Everywoman in Travel Awards.

Bennett and her Windstar captain colleagues. Image: Benjamin Arthur Phorography.

The cruise ship industry is still largely male-dominated. According to Cruise Market Watch, of the world’s over-300 passenger cruise liners, less than a dozen have female captains.

Featured image: supplied/Windstar Cruises

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