Cunard’s first female captain cruises into her home in the Faroe Islands

The excitement was palpable as Captain Inger Olsen steered the Queen Victoria through the narrow passage that leads to the port of Klaksvik, on the island of Bordoy. One of eighteen islands that make up the Faroe Islands,  crowds included the Captain’s family, lined the pier to welcome the Captain and her ship home.

As in maritime tradition when a ship calls on a port for the first time, there was the ceremonious plaque and key exchange onboard the Queen Victoria, with the ships’ officers and city officials in attendance.

Cunard Line's Queen Victoria on maiden port call to the Faroe Islands, Denmark.
Cunard Line’s Queen Victoria on maiden port call to the Faroe Islands, Denmark.

Captain Olsen was born in Vestmanna in the Faroe Islands, which lends some explanation for her maritime abilities, and she joined Cunard in 1997 as First Officer on board Vistafjord. In 2001, she transferred to the Seabourn fleet, which at that time was part of Cunard. She sailed on Seabourn Sun and Seabourn Spirit before being promoted to the rank of Staff Captain on Seabourn Pride in 2003.

Following some years with other companies within the Carnival group, Captain Olsen returned to Cunard in August 2010 as Deputy Captain of Queen Victoria and was then appointed Captain in December that year.

Throughout the ship’s visit there, all the shops remained open during the evening and a barbeque was held in the town square with live music and dancing.

The next day, the Queen Victoria sailed to Torshavn, the capital of the Faroe Islands. Events on board while there included the traditional Plaque Exchange ceremony, before guests enjoyed lunch in the ship’s new Verandah Restaurant.

“The undoubted highlight of my career so far was taking command of Queen Victoria in December 2010, thus becoming the first female Captain in the 170-year history of Cunard. That was a thrill I thought would never be overtaken,” said Captain Olsen. “But I have to say, taking Queen Victoria – ‘my ship’ – home was on a par with first taking command. Not many people have the chance to take a 90,000-ton liner, and a Cunard liner at that, home! It was a proud moment for me and an event I was pleased to share with nearly 3,000 passengers and crew, and thousands more fellow countrymen.”

Captain Olsen added, “Queen Victoria’s passengers have been intrigued to see and hear about the Faroes and I’m so pleased that it was possible to include calls at two of the islands so that our passengers can get more of a sense of what living in such a remote and rugged part of the world is really like.”

The Faroe Islands are actually closer to Scotland than Denmark, and have a pronounced British influence since World War II. An island group and archipelago under the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Denmark, they are located between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, approximately halfway between Norway and Iceland.
Queen Victoria’s passengers were able to enjoy a range of tours that included the countryside of Eysturoy, “Klaksvik past and present,” “Scenic Faroes and Pancakes,” and the island of Vagar.


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