P&O Cruises’ first female Captain spoke to Cruise in Review en route from Sydney to Auckland about being the master aboard Pacific Pearl.
Cruise in Review: How has your time been as Captain of Pacific Pearl?
Captain Breton: Fantastic! I sailed on the ship previously as Ocean Village so it has been great coming back here again as Pacific Pearl
Cruise in Review: Which other ships have you Mastered?
Captain Breton: My first command was on Artemis
in April 2010, I left her in February 2011 and then spent two and a half months commanding Aurora before coming here to Pacific Pearl in June 2011.
Cruise in Review: How do you balance life at sea with family commitments?
Captain Breton: It’s difficult. Missing friends and family is one of the drawbacks but when you are at home you get real quality time with them and in reality on average, I probably see family more than those who work a standard working week, but it comes in lumps!
Cruise in Review: Where in the world are you based when not at sea?
Captain Breton: At home in England in East Anglia.
Cruise in Review: What advice do you give women wanting to look at a career at sea?
Captain Breton: Don’t be in too much of a rush. Take small steps when you are ready to take them and you’ll get there.
There is no replacement for experience, it takes time to build that up but when you have that behind you, you’ll draw on it for the rest of your life.
Cruise in Review: What training did you undertake to achieve your position?
Captain Breton: I started at sea from 16 (straight from school) joining Canadian Pacific (a cargo ship company).
It started with a four year cadetship. This was sandwich-style training spending periods of time at South Tyneside college for the theory and on ships to gain practical experience.
At the end of this I obtained my Class III (Officer of the Watch) certificate of competency from the MCA.
I returned to South Tyneside again in 1988 for a year when I worked towards gaining my Class II (Mates) certificate of competency. On completion of this I then joined P&O and after completing further sea time I once again returned to South Tyneside to get my Class I (Master’s) certificate in 1992.
From that time onwards I have progressed up the ranks gaining practical experience in the process.
Cruise in Review: What is it like being a female in what is normally a male’s position?
Captain Breton: It is no harder for me than any other person given command – the responsibility is the same male or female!
Originally written by Natalie Aroyan for e-Travel Blackboard