Seabourn expedition confirmed for 2024 Kimberley season

Seabourn Pursuit to sail Australia's northwest coastline

Horizontal Falls, Kimberley, Western Australia

Seabourn Pursuit, the second of two luxury, purpose-built expedition ships to be operated by Seabourn, has been confirmed to sail the Kimberley coastline in mid-2024.

The deployment of Seabourn’s newbuild vessel to Australia’s rugged wilderness coast was foreshadowed exclusively by LATTE in mid-2021.

Speaking to travel advisors and partners in Sydney last night [Thursday 13 October 2022], Robin West, Head of Expeditions said the yet-to-launch sister ship of Seabourn Venture will operate a season of “two- to two-and-a-half-months” in the Kimberley. Voyages will go on sale between now and the end of the year.

While the 264-passenger vessel will be equipped with two submarines and 8 double-person kayaks, both toys will be “put away in storage” during the Kimberley program, West told LATTE.

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West said Seabourn Pursuit will “come online” from October 2023, and after its first season operating from the Antarctic peninsula for the 2023/24 season, from March 2024, it will transition to a “warm water ship”, and cross the Pacific.

He told LATTE the Pacific deployment in 2024, while not yet formally released, will incorporate “three or four voyages”, visiting destinations including Easter Island, French Polynesia, Guam, islands of the South Pacific (such as Samoa, Fiji and Vanuatu), the Solomon Islands, and through to Papua New Guinea, ending in Rabaul.

The ship will then be “anchored” in the Kimberley for the 2024 season from early June through to mid-August.

“It’s probably one of the top greatest destinations to visit on an expedition ship, without a doubt,” the expedition specialist with decades of experience said.

Robin West, Vice President of Expedition Operations and Planning, Seabourn

“There’s things that happen in the Kimberley that happen nowhere else,” West said, highlighting the Horizontal Falls and the tidal changes of Montgomery Reef.

“We won’t be able to use the kayaks because of the crocodiles, and I think the Kimberley has everything possibly working against us when it comes to the subs – no visibility, second largest tidal changes in the world, massive currents – so, the submarines will never be used in the Kimberley,” he said.

The Hunter River on the West Kimberley coastline | Credit: Tourism WA

According to Darwin Port’s website, Seabourn Pursuit will call at the Northern Territory capital on 12 June, 2 July, 22 July and 11 August 2024 – which suggests a possible 10-day, one-way itinerary between Darwin and Broome. (Dates are also assigned for Seabourn Venture for the season, but that deployment is understood to have been shelved).

Following the Kimberley deployment, Seabourn Pursuit will return across the Pacific bound for its 2024/25 Antarctica season.

Two expeditions ships, increased diversity

“With the two ships we can create more diversity. We can have [Seabourn] Venture doing a bit more of your stronger Arctic itineraries and colder weather to some extent, and that gives us the flexibility to offer completely different itineraries more focused on the warm weather, snorkeling, scuba diving, submarines and cultural immersion,” West said.

He confirmed Pursuit wasn’t scheduled to sail any further south of Darwin and the Kimberley region, ruling out a visit to New Zealand and/or Australia’s east coast in 2024.

The Netherlands-based cruise guru told LATTE future season deployments for Seabourn’s expedition fleet could however involve sailing from New Zealand to the Ross Sea/Commonwealth Bay region, which was originally scheduled for the 2024 season but ultimately abandoned due to the conflict in Russia and its flow on effect to other parts of the world.

West said the 2024 season is “all built” and will likely go on sale in the next 45-60 days.

Seabourn Venture

Further launch delay for Seabourn Pursuit 

As mentioned above, during his presentation, West revealed Seabourn Pursuit would now debut in late 2023. Like many ships in the expanding polar class, its launch has been postponed multiple times. Until recently, Seabourn Pursuit had been slated to begin operation in “early 2023”, with a previously boasted highlight sailing being the Northwest Passage in August 2023.

According to Seabourn’s website which lists sailings that are currently available to book, LATTE can reveal reservations for Pursuit begin with the 14-day Wild Guinans to the Amazon Basin, departing on 10 October 2023, from Bridgetown, Barbados to Manaus, Brazil.

A further six itineraries are listed online traversing the South American continent to, and including, Antarctica. Multiple departures (some of which are also operated by Seabourn Venture) are offered on the 12-day Great White Continent and 14-day Antarctica Exploration. Seabourn Pursuit‘s final voyage of the season appears to conclude in Ushuaia on 20 February 2024.

Expeditions with Seabourn to Antarctica for the 2023/24 season are priced from AU$13,999 per person twin share.

Seabourn Pursuit's hull was repositioned to the T. Mariotti shipyard in Genoa, Italy, for final outfitting in April 2022.

Expedition ship charters

Meanwhile, West told LATTE there has been interest in charters of Seabourn’s expedition fleet. With sole-use operation of ships planned years in advance, any future charter of Seabourn Venture or Seabourn Pursuit would likely be several years away, he said.

West was in Sydney as part of a mini Seabourn Expedition roadshow for VIP travel advisors and their clients, with a series of events hosted in Brisbane on Tuesday and in Melbourne on Wednesday.

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