The first female master of a British cruise ship, Captain Sarah Breton, took over command of Southampton based Artemis yesterday.

Formerly the staff captain with the Ocean Village cruise operator, 45-year-old, Captain Breton, who has been with P&O Cruises since 1989, has risen through the ranks to the top position on the ship's bridge.

Captain Breton is the first female captain in the company's history, which dates back to 1837, and only the second woman to become master of a modern-day cruise ship.

The first female to break through the traditional, male dominated role of captain was Karin Stahre Janson, who took command of Royal Caribbean's 2,400 ton vessel, Monarch of the Seas, in 2007.

Captain Breton's career has now turned full circle, as it was on Royal Princess, now sailing as Artemis, that she started her sea-going career.

Artemis, which was originally named by the late, Diana, Princess of Wales in the city back in November, 1984, is due to be withdrawn from P&O Cruises' fleet of Southampton ships in 2011 and replaced by 30,2277 ton, Adonia, at present serving with Princess Cruises as Royal Princess.