Seabourn Pursuit in the Hunter River, Kimberley, Australia

Seabourn Pursuit:
Aboriginal waters


It’s not rare for captains to wish for a bit of luck on their ships’ maiden voyages, particularly when navigating the world’s most remote bodies of water. One way to bring about good fortune is to name legendary seafarers as a vessel’s godparents. With this in mind, luxury cruise specialist Seabourn just became the first company to place indigenous people, the Wunambal Gaambera – set to become the godparents of Seabourn Pursuit – in this prestigious position.

Seabourn has been a pioneer in providing refined, small-ship ocean travel since it was created by a group of enthusiastic, dedicated hospitality and maritime executives in 1986. In essence, they believed such explorations have a liberating quality that can enrich individuals’ lives, so introduced customers to a seafaring experience that hitherto had only been enjoyed by the owners of the planet’s most immense private yachts. Their initial three vessels were the eponymous Pride, Spirit and Legend (all entered service between 1988 and 1991). Subsequently, the brand has tripled its fleet, owing to its unique adventures proving so popular.

This is no surprise, as whichever Seabourn getaway one opts for, clients are guaranteed a less formal brand of luxury than what was once readily associated with glamorous cruises. Hedonism is still in ample supply (and we’re certainly not complaining about it), as guests are whisked off to some of the world’s most fascinating locations. Whether it’s the misty, humid jungles of the Amazon, the Gaudi-smattered wonder that amounts to Barcelona, or the mystical islands of Komodo National Park, where the titular slumbering dragons roam. Yet, half the fun is with the actual journey to said destinations, owing to the fleet’s first-class amenities and entertainment options: expect dances, fitness centres, on-deck yoga, spa and wellness facilities, a variety of shows, casinos and more. Meanwhile, immaculate ocean-front suites, many with private verandas, are graced with superb décor and the requisite mod cons. Not to forget a wide range of dining options – there’s a range of Michelin star-level cuisine in assorted eateries.

The newest addition to the company’s fleet, 2023-launched Seabourn Pursuit, continues its tenacious drive for splendour and excellence. Along with her sister vessel, Seabourn Venture, Pursuit was custom-built to lead expedition cruises to the most enviable and remotest spots around the globe. The ship’s most remarkable feature, however, might just be that its owners decided to make the Wunambal Gaambera its godparents – a noticeable milestone in the ocean liner industry. This admirable first is set to happen on the ship’s June 22-July 02 excursion around Western Australia’s Kimberley region, where the aforementioned indigenous people are based, symbolising respect for their community and the habitat they live in.

Seabourn’s approach to the native ethnic groups in the lands their craft visit, which includes a commitment to environmental sustainability, is of course to be welcomed. And so is the intended christening of the latest member of their super-fleet. But we feel it’s just a starting point and, in general, further steps ought to be taken by the overall luxury travel sector to engage with traditional owner communities, whether they’re Australian Aborigines, Native Americans, Berbers, or others. Historically, this subset of society has suffered greatly, and its members continue to be marginalized today. If you ask us, specifically in relation to heritage tourism, any travel experiences set in indigenous peoples’ territories should be realised in collaboration with said communities. Not only would this benefit indigenous people economically (as long as fair partnerships and regulations are in place), but it would also engender a more authentic experience for any sojourners looking for dynamic cultural exchange.

Seabourn’s tribute to the Wunambal Gaambera people is a wonderful first step – and an industry-leading one at that – to engender a closer relationship with native people and their lands. And if it helps pave the way for further collaboration between the high-end travel industry and traditional owners, then we’re certainly on board with that.

Photography courtesy of Seabourn Cruise Line

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