Seabourn Sets Sail with Sustainability in Mind


Luxury cruise line Seabourn breaks new ground by appointing the Wunambal Gaambera Traditional Owners as the godparents of their newest expedition ship, Seabourn Pursuit. This landmark decision signifies Seabourn’s deep commitment to environmental stewardship, cultural responsibility, and sustainable tourism practices.

A First for the Cruise Industry: Honoring Tradition and Community

Seabourn takes the helm in a first for the cruise industry by selecting the Wunambal Gaambera people as Seabourn Pursuit’s godparents. Traditionally, christening a ship involves selecting godparents to bestow blessings upon the vessel and its passengers. In this instance, the Wunambal Gaambera people, as the Traditional Owners of the Kimberley region in Australia, become symbolic guardians of Seabourn Pursuit, reflecting a commitment to respecting the lands and communities the ship will visit.

Seabourn Sets Sail
Seabourn Sets Sail

Natalya Leahy, President of Seabourn, emphasizes the significance of this selection: “We believe no one can give a better blessing to our ship than the communities we visit… We truly believe in the transformative power of travel, and when we visit local communities, we can both celebrate their culture and drive positive sustainable change in the places they call home.”

This appointment goes beyond a symbolic gesture. Seabourn acknowledges the importance of fostering long-term, sustainable partnerships. By collaborating with the Wunambal Gaambera people, Seabourn aims to contribute meaningfully to the cultural and economic well-being of the region.

The Wunambal Gaambera People: Stewards of the Land and Sea

The Wunambal Gaambera people are the rightful custodians of a vast Kimberley region encompassing the sea country around Ngula Jar Island (Vansittart Bay) and Yirinni (Hunter River), and extending to the freshwater country of Ngauwudu (Mitchell Plateau). Their rich cultural heritage and profound connection to the land and sea make them ideal partners for Seabourn Pursuit’s inaugural voyage through Western Australia.

The Wunambal Gaambera word for “godparent” is “garrangarru”, which translates to “mother” or “listener.” This beautifully captures the nurturing and supportive role the Wunambal Gaambera people will play in Seabourn Pursuit’s journey. The Wunambal Gaambera Aboriginal Corporation (WGAC) embodies the spirit of ideal ambassadors for Seabourn Pursuit. Their established sustainable tourism initiatives and deep respect for the environment perfectly align with Seabourn’s values.

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A Welcoming Presence: Wunambal Gaambera Participation in the Naming Ceremony

Representatives from the WGAC will extend a warm welcome to Seabourn Pursuit guests at Ngula Jar Island on the Uunguu Coast. This special occasion will culminate in an inaugural dedication ceremony scheduled for June 29, 2024.

A Lasting Partnership: Investing in a Sustainable Future

Seabourn’s commitment extends beyond the ceremonial. As part of this partnership, Seabourn will provide financial support to the WGAC to cultivate a self-sustaining art and craft industry. This initiative will empower Wunambal Gaambera artists to create and sell authentic works of art, fostering cultural preservation and economic opportunities.

Furthermore, Seabourn will donate pearl shells, art supplies, and polishing materials to the WGAC, enabling the continued development of sustainable art and craft ventures.

Sharing the Uunguu Experience

Seabourn looks forward to collaborating with the Wunambal Gaambera people to offer guests a unique and enriching cultural experience, the “Uunguu Experience.” This immersive program allows guests to partake in traditional welcome and smoking ceremonies, explore ancient rock art, witness captivating junta song and dance performances, and gain insights from Uunguu Rangers dedicated to protecting the land.

Catherine Goonack, Chairperson of the Wunambal Gaambera Aboriginal Corporation, expresses her appreciation for this partnership: “We, the Wunambal Gaambera people, have a responsibility to look after and prosper from our country. Seabourn’s contributions will assist us… to strengthen our Wanjina Wunggurr culture, and create economic opportunities for our people.”

Ms. Goonack highlights the importance of preserving their cultural heritage and traditions while ensuring a healthy future for generations to come. She welcomes the opportunity to share the Uunguu Experience with Seabourn guests and contribute to a mutually beneficial relationship.

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