Seabourn Pursuit christened by Traditional Owners in the Kimberley

Wunambal Gaambera Traditional Owners name expedition ship on Ngula Jar Island

Seabourn named Seabourn Pursuit in a unique and historic expedition naming ceremony at Ngula Jar Island, Australia on Saturday 29 June 2024. With guests on Zodiacs alongside the ship and the onboard team lined up along the decks, the Wunambal Gaambera Traditional Owners named Seabourn Pursuit, marking the first time Traditional Owners named a ship.

The day-long celebration and naming ceremony were planned to honour Wunambal Gaambera Country and people and Kimberley region, and guests were able to immerse themselves in the Aboriginal culture and history throughout the day.

Guests took part in a remarkable Wunambal Gaambera welcome and smoking ceremony, “jimɨrri,” to welcome guests to the country and bid them safe travels.

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“Our smoking ceremony is done for visitors so that our old people’s spirits won’t follow them,” said Lillian Karadada, Wunambal Gaambera Traditional Owner. Afterwards, the “Junba,” a traditional story-telling song and dance, was carried out by Wunambal Gaambera Traditional Owners, painted in ochre. Guests also visited ancient rock art sites and heard the cultural stories of that area. Artworks by Wunambal Gaambera artists were on display and for sale.

Seabourn and Wunambal Gaambera Traditional Owners exchanged gifts to celebrate their new relationship. In addition, Seabourn guests Vince and Jane Roig, who have sailed on every Seabourn inaugural voyage on the current seven-ship fleet, presented the Traditional Owners with a symbolic gift of art supplies as a token of appreciation for this new partnership together.

Seabourn guests Jane and Vince Roig presented the Wunambal Gambera Traditional Owners with a symbolic gift of art supplies as a token of appreciation for the new partnership with Seabourn. Pictured are Wunambal Gaambera Traditional Owners Desmond Williams (left) and Rosa Marnga (right), with the Roigs (centre).

The day culminated with the naming ceremony in Wunambal Gaambera language and English, where representatives from the Wunambal Gaambera Aboriginal Corporation wished Seabourn Pursuit an abundance of blessings and extraordinary expeditions to come in Wunambal Gaambera Country. Seabourn used a specially made bottle crafted from sugar and coated with sand from Ngula, Jar Island, to further celebrate and show respect to the land. Keeping with the time-honored maritime tradition, guests and crew members both on board and on the Zodiacs cheered and celebrated the moment the bottle broke on the bow of the ship.

Natalya Leahy, Seabourn President shared her excitement about the special relationship Seabourn has built with the Wunambal Gaambera Traditional Owners – their country and people – whose rich cultural history, deep connection to the land and sea, and established sustainable tourism initiatives, combine to make them a natural fit to be godparents for Seabourn Pursuit.

“This day marks a very special event with the christening of Seabourn Pursuit, our newest ultra- luxury purpose-built expedition ship. This is a wonderful maritime tradition, and today is extra special for us because we asked the Wunambal Gaambera to be the ship’s godparents, which marks the beginning of long sustainable partnership between our brand and this community,” Leahy said.

“We know our guests visit these wonderful places in the world because they believe in the transformative power of travel, and today we celebrate exactly this,” Leahy added.

Seabourn Pursuit was named during an historic expedition naming ceremony on June 29, 2024 at Ngula Jar Island in Western Australia.

“We are honoured to be the godparents of Seabourn Pursuit and share our culture with their crew and guests. It’s good to see our people working on Country and sharing our unique culture in the right way. Living and working on Country is important for us. When we are living and speaking language on Country, we are healthy. Thank you, Seabourn, for your support. Biyanga graa winya – Welcome,” said Catherine Goonack, Chair, Wunambal Gaambera Aboriginal Corporation.

From left: Handré Potgieter, Seabourn’s director of entertainment; Seabourn guest Jane Roig; Robin West, Seabourn VP and GM of Expeditions; Natalya Leahy, President of Seabourn; Vince Roig, Seabourn guest; Wunambal Gaambera Aboriginal Corporation Chair Catherine Goonack; Wunambal Gaambera Traditional Owners Maria Fredericks, Desmond Williams, and Rosa Marnga; and Seabourn Pursuit Captain Ertan Vasvi.

Also in attendance were Ms. Divina D’Anna, MLA, and Parliamentary Secretary to Deputy Premier Hon. Rita Saffioti MLA (Deputy Premier; Treasurer; Minister for Transport; Tourism;
Member for West Swan), and Di Bain, the Chair of Tourism Western Australia.

Seabourn chose the Kimberley for the site of the naming ceremony because the region represents everything for which the ship is intended, while also affording the opportunity for the line to create a lasting relationship with Wunambal Gaambera as an investment in sustainable tourism. The relationship with Wunambal Gaambera serves as a symbolic gesture of stewardship and responsibility toward the environment and the communities that Seabourn visits.

Seabourn President Natalya Leahy presented gifts to Wunambal Gaambera Traditional Owners. From left are: Leahy, Wunambal Gaambera Aboriginal Corporation Chair Catherine Goonack, Wunambal Gaambera Traditional Owner Maria Fredericks, Wunambal Gaambera Traditional Owner Desmond Williams, and Wunambal Gaambera Traditional Owner Rosa Marnga.

As part of the alliance, Seabourn is making a donation to assist Wunambal Gaambera develop a self-sustaining industry, producing authentic works of art and craft by Wunambal Gaambera artists to sell. In addition, Seabourn is contributing pearl shells, various art supplies, and polishing materials to foster sustainable, commercial arts and craft initiatives year-round for Wunambal Gaambera artists and craft producers.

Seabourn further intends to work alongside Wunambal Gaambera as they share their unique Uunguu Experience, imparting Wanjina Wunggurr culture through welcome and smoking ceremonies; rock art tours; junba song and dance; and art and stories from the Uunguu Rangers who are looking after and keeping the country healthy.

Seabourn’s monetary contribution adds to funding already received from the State Tourism Authority, Tourism Western Australia, that will assist Wunambal Gaambera’s development of tourism facilities and products for Traditional Owners to live on their country during the dry season when tourism operators can access the vast coastline of the Kimberley region.

Seabourn Pursuit guests watch on from Zodiacs as the vessel is officially named in the Kimberley.

Wunambal Gaambera Aboriginal Corporation is to be commended on the implementation of their Uunguu Visitor Management Plan to reconnect with their country, to manage visitor access and take leadership in the tourism industry, and to engage with water-based visitors who arrive on their land, thus participating in the value chain that operators like Seabourn offer. Ngula Jar Island will be featured on all Seabourn itineraries in the Kimberley, ensuring consistent visitation to Wunambal Gaambera Country.

Seabourn Pursuit offers the same luxurious small ship experience that travellers have come to expect from Seabourn, enhanced by world-class equipment that allows the line to offer its widest range of expedition activities led by an expert 24-person expedition team of scientists, scholars, naturalists, and more.

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