Girl Power! P&O Cruises Appoints First Female Captain

April 21, 2010
P&O Cruises Captain Sarah Breton (8:20 p.m. EDT) -- The first female captain in P&O Cruises' 173-year history has taken to the waves at the helm of the 1,200-passenger, adults-only Artemis.

Essex-born Sarah Breton, 45, has worked her way up through the ranks, serving on numerous Princess ships as third officer, second officer, navigator, first officer and safety officer. She was first promoted to staff captain in 2001 on the original Pacific Princess and then went on to serve onboard Coral Princess, Tahitian Princess (renamed Ocean Princess in 2009), the new Pacific Princess, Artemis and most recently Ocean Village.

"It really does fulfil a lifelong ambition of mine to be a captain with P&O Cruises," Captain Breton said in a press statement. "It is made even more special to be captain of the first cruise ship I ever served on, after joining P&O Cruises as third officer back in 1989."

But Captain Breton isn't the first woman to command a cruise ship; Royal Caribbean won that honour when it promoted Karin Stahre-Janson to Master (we won't say Mistress) of Monarch of the Seas in 2007.

Of course, Artemis is leaving the P&O fleet in April 2011, but that doesn't mean Captain Breton's time with the line will be short-lived. "All captains work on rotation so when Artemis leaves the fleet she will work on other ships within our fleet," a P&O spokeswoman assured Cruise Critic.

--by Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor