At Sea With The Conversationalist – The Great Stowaway Story!

As we in Fremantle have recently been admiring a veritable flotilla of cruise ships coming and going in port, regular Shipping News contributor, emeritus professor, author, scriptwriter and Inner City Fremantle resident, Brian Stoddart has again been engaging in the art of the ‘Conversationalist’, this time aboard the fabulous Seabourn Sojourn which is on a cruise from Freo to Africa. In this piece, Brian kindly recounts the cruise so far – including the arrival of The Stowaway!

On 20 March, we left Fremantle aboard Seabourn Sojourn, having the rare opportunity of actually walking to the ship from home.

Seabourn Sojourn alongside in Fremantle, 20 March 2023

Straight into three sea days, which for Conversationalists means three talk days.

Seabourn Sojourn departing Fremantle, 20 March 2023

This time we are joined by an Australian navy officer and master mariner, a geographer and a paleontologist, all of us focused on helping Seabourn travellers understand something of the regions we are travelling through.

Life on board through sea days takes a myriad of forms. Some guests frequent the pool, others play mahjong or bridge, a few are seen at the gym.

For many, these are the days to relax, a bridge between port days which for them become highly active.

Organised needlework sessions appear alongside art classes, dancing sessions, cooking and jewellery shows and more.

Then there is the entertainment, with the resident band and entertainers performing in the three main bars as well as the Grand Salon where the guest entertainers appear nightly. The stand out so far has been Will Martin, a very funny and self-deprecatingly marvellous singer – for many here, he has been one of the best shows ever, a huge talent who is well worth looking up.

A Seabourn highlight is the daily team trivia session where “It’s the winning that counts, not the taking part!” On all Seabourn ships, trivia is a major blood sport.

Much of the fun on Seabourn is getting to meet the big range of people aboard. So far: former American air force pilots; a Buddhist priest; Kiwi industrialists; an American manufacturer; international lawyers; business people. All these and others have a great interest in this part of the world, which makes talking with them a pleasure. Several of them are on the whole world voyage from Miami to Barcelona, and are seasoned sailors with much to talk about.

The first stop out of Fremantle was Broome, hot and humid but interesting as always, especially with the normal big tide fluctuations aggravated by the equinox. As we sailed away, a massive storm formed behind us, with the lightning show spectacular.

And we have a stowaway. A Black Kite apparently got discombobulated by the storm and found its way aboard and, twenty four hours later, is still with us.

One story has it being a juvenile kicked out of the next by parents then confused by the storm. Another has it being a half-tame resident of Broome with the name Milly. Whatever the reality, the splendid bird may be seen around the pool deck and, occasionally, propping up the bar there as we head for Bali. It was the star of the show at the “sailaway” session from Broome, upstaging the cruise director who is the most dynamic person in the whole of Seabourn.

Seabourn Sojourn leaving Fremantle, 20 March 2023

The real question, of course, is what happens next given issues of biosecurity, international rules and the most humane thing to do, all while traversing the opinions and sentiments of guests who all have a view.

Stay tuned for that.

Meanwhile, a planned tour in Mombasa, Kenya has been cancelled because of concerns with the political situation there, with extra time scheduled in Zanzibar along with a new stop in Dar Es Salaam. That is all great, except we were scheduled to leave in Mombasa.

Stay tuned for that, too!

* By Brian Stoddart. You’ll find more feature articles by Brian Stoddart right here!

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