Cruise captainship has long been a male-dominated profession (think back to Vikings and pirates), but Swedish mariner Karin Stahre-Janson has been working her way up to it. She has been with Royal Caribbean in a variety of officer-level roles since 1997; her current position as the commander of Monarch is a promotion from Staff Captain, a title she held onboard Serenade and Majesty. Prior to that, she worked for nine years in cargo shipping, primarily on petroleum and chemical tankers -- another male-dominated industry.
Stahre-Janson discovered her love for sailing at the age of 7 when her parents gave her a small boat, and cultivated her passion at sailing camp. While growing up, she also took -- and taught -- sailing lessons and competitively raced tall ships. She graduated from the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden with a bachelor's degree in Nautical Science and obtained an Unlimited Masters License enabling her to command any ship of any size (maybe Genesis is next...).
Interestingly, Stahre-Janson already completed a tour of duty onboard Monarch, sailing three- and four-night Baja cruises; she'll resume command in August. A spokesman for Royal Caribbean tells us that the line waited to announce Captain Stahre-Janson's appointment per her wishes -- she wanted to get settled in aboard Monarch and with her new crew before fielding the inevitable interviews that would come after the news got out.
During her time on Monarch, she made her mark on Cruise Critic readers:
"Met Captain Karin while on Monarch in March," member zuscruiserz posts on our Royal Caribbean forum. "She is very personable, and we had one of the smoothest cruises yet! Can't wait to sail with her again. Way to go, Royal Caribbean!" Family Man writes, "We met Captain Karin back in March. I think it was her second week as captain. She was very nice and we got to take some photos with her."
"Maybe her parents told her the same thing I've always told my two daughters," adds Susie22: "The only thing you can't be is ... a Dad!"
Of course, among the kudos and congratulations there are a few jokesters ("Will she only stop the ship in ports with really great shopping?" and "I'm sure she's had plenty of experience driving from the backseat.") But let's not forget which sex is famous for not stopping for directions....
--by Melissa Baldwin, Senior Editor
Image of Captain Karin Stahre-Janson steering Monarch of the Seas out of the Port of Los Angeles appears courtesy of Royal Caribbean.