Seabourn squeezing more guests on Pursuit’s christening

LATTE chats exclusively with Seabourn President, Natalya Leahy

Demand for Seabourn‘s christening cruise of Seabourn Pursuit in the Kimberley has seen the luxury cruise line re-assign many of its own staff to shared suites to squeeze more guests onboard the sailing, LATTE can reveal.

Speaking exclusively with LATTE from Seattle ahead of Seabourn Pursuit’s inaugural South Pacific and Kimberley deployment, Natalya Leahy, President of Seabourn said requests were running hot for the last remaining berths on the expedition ship for the 22 June 2024 sailing, as well as the entire debut season in the region.

Leahy – who confirmed she will be attending the ceremony in Northwest WA next month – said Seabourn’s own employees on the official sailing are now all sharing, “in some cases tripling up,” to provide an opportunity to allow additional paying passengers on the once-in-a-lifetime departure.

Natalya Leahy, President, Seabourn, in Sydney for the first time in February 2024 | Credit: LATTE

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In a break from tradition, last month Seabourn announced the Western Kimberley Traditional Owners, the Wunambal Gaambera people, had been selected as the godparents for Seabourn Pursuit. More often than not, this maritime traditional honour is bestowed on a celebrity godmother, or the occasional godfather. Seabourn too had started down that path, with Leahy explaining the thought process behind the decision.

“The classic route of most cruise lines is to go in search of a celebrity,” Leahy said. “We originally went that route too. We considered artists to explorers to Hollywood celebrities.”

Jar Island, Kimberley

“There were a few yeses from very prominent celebrities who were interested in partnering with us,” Leahy told LATTE, but flagged a degree of trepidation.

“We asked ourselves, why are we not as comfortable?”

“We have these people who are very, very high profile, who want to work with us, but what bothers us? What is our hesitation?”

“We kept reviewing the list and constantly returned to the same fact that we couldn’t land where we felt there was a full alignment with what we are trying to communicate – what the Seabourn brand stands for, what our expedition product stands for, which is taking the Seabourn experience to the next level and bringing people much closer to forge a deeper to the connection with the world and culture.”

“What we came to realise is that fundamentally we felt that when we bring a celebrity onboard to be a godparent – and they are fantastic people and we felt blessed they were keen to work with us – but fundamentally it’s taking someone’s accomplishments and giving a little glory of their success on our ship, and really celebrating the past of someone else’s journey.”

“Whereas what Seabourn is all about is creating a lasting, authentic connection and celebrating the future.”

Natalya Leahy, President, Seabourn | Credit: LATTE

“As we were articulating that principle of what we want to do, and the reason for our existence, and the reason our guests’ love of us is because Seabourn generates a genuine, authentic, warm connection with the world and the expedition business takes that to a whole next level.”

“We asked ourselves who is best to give the blessing to our product, our ship, our expedition ship, and it became abundantly clear there was no one who can give the blessing better than the community.”

“We considered why was it that we had never tasked community as godparents before, and why should it be limited to just one godparent when it really is a community that we are visiting. Apparently no one had done it before and so we went for it.”

Leahy said to gauge the opinion of Seabourn’s leadership team on the topic, they were required to write down on a piece of paper their preference for either a celebrity or a member of the community and 100% of the team voted in favour of the community, “so it was an obvious path we wanted to take,” she said.

“As we progressed with this journey we were increasingly proud of our choice and solidified in our decision. We realised that our contributions can go such a long way to delivering on our key focus points – sustainable tourism, creating sustainable travel practices, how we talk about authenticity.”

“And we were completely thrilled and honoured that the Western Australian government would not just match but double our donation.”

Stay tuned to LATTE to take a deeper dive with Leahy into the indigenous tourism initiatives in the Kimberley, and some exclusive details on the upcoming ceremony.

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