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Ivanna Seymour, top-ranked Mariner sets sights on becoming first Bahamian captain of a Royal Caribbean ship

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#TheBahamas, May 29, 2021 – As a toddler, Ivanna Seymour’s mother called her a ‘water baby.’ As a mature mariner, Seymour hopes crew aboard a Royal Caribbean ship will one day call her captain.  

If she makes that rank – and she is working toward it, she’s now the fifth-highest ranking bridge officer in a crew of 1,200 on Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas – Seymour will become the first Bahamian female to captain a cruise ship of that magnitude with responsibility for anywhere between 1,200 and 2,500 other crew members in addition to up to 6,800 guests.  

It’s a career she has been preparing for since she first went to sea, crewing on the Dean’s Shipping mailboat, MV Legend. At 18 and fresh out of St. Augustine’s College, she spent a year working on the ship making regular hops between West Palm Beach, Green Turtle Cay and Marsh Harbour in the Abacos and Nassau. She also crewed on its frequent charters to islands throughout The Bahamas.  

Seymour’s love of math, her determination to learn celestial navigation and her instinctual understanding of ship stability and loading factors drove her to go further at sea. She did what few females have ever done – becoming one woman among an all-male crew aboard a cargo ship, sometimes out to sea for months. The job was through Bahamas-based Campbell Shipping. The voyages were worldwide.  

“We went all over, one day we’d be doing China to Vancouver and the next we’d be doing South America to Europe,” says Seymour, now 29. Back then, in her early 20s, often with crew who hailed from India, she drew on every ounce of mental strength she had. It wasn’t just the obvious concern about being the only female in a crew of 24 in an isolated world. The worst part was the daily treatment.  

“In the beginning, I was assigned jobs every day like chipping, painting and mopping when I really wanted to be on the bridge, learning everything I could,” she said. Refusing to break under the gender prejudice, Seymour took it upon herself to learn on her own what she could about cargo loading, ship husbandry, meteorology and celestial navigation. Finally, on her second contract with the company, a new captain recognized her commitment and took the time to teach her.  

She remained with Campbell Shipping for six and half years, working on bulk carriers, spending Christmases and birthdays thousands of miles from home. Contracts were seven months on, two months off. During the off-time, she studied. She earned licenses from South Tyneside College in the U.K. and elsewhere.  

Today, Seymour holds the highest certification earned by a Bahamian female, Chief Officer Unlimited and she is close to earning her Master Mariner license.     

Her most frightening moment came during a freak storm.  

“We were a few miles off the coast of China on our way to Canada when we were hit by a typhoon,” she recalled. “We were literally ‘dancing’ on the bridge. I was sitting in a chair and the rogue wave came up and flung the chair. I slid from the port side all the way to the starboard.” The storm blew up so suddenly, crew members had no time to tie themselves to lifelines. Not worried that she could have been tossed overboard, she was fearful that the 189-meter ship (620 feet long) would capsize.  

“I think people think the life aboard cargo ships is easy, but it is much more difficult,” says Seymour. “You are very isolated, you have to be very strong-willed. You are all alone for long periods of time.”  

With certifications and licenses in hand, Seymour left the cargo world, took a chance and applied online for a position at Royal Caribbean.  

In March 2019, she landed the job and is now second officer in charge of all life-saving and firefighting equipment and appliances and keeping navigational watch on the 3,800-passemger, 1,020-foot-long Navigator of the Seas. She had one good year before the pandemic hit, leading to the ship being at anchor for 14 months.    

“I love it,” she said. “Coming from cargo ships to passenger ships, it was like starting life over, going from isolation to being with people who are having fun and thoroughly enjoy their job. And I love the atmosphere at Royal Caribbean. They are always encouraging you to learn more, study more, take this training, do that so you can move up within the company. It’s a great atmosphere.”  

If Seymour gets her wish to captain a Royal Caribbean Group ship, she will be the first Bahamian, but not the first female. In 2007, Royal Caribbean named Swedish mariner Karin Stahre-Janson captain of Monarch of the Seas and in 2015, Kate McCue, 43, became the first American female captain when she took the helm of Royal Caribbean Group’s Celebrity Summit. Today, McCue is captain of the luxury cruise line’s newest ship, Celebrity Edge.  

Seymour may not have a quarter million Instagram followers like McCue just yet, but she has a family that is continually amazed by and proud of her.  

“I set out a goal and I am accomplishing it. One day, I will be the first female Bahamian captain on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. One day in the next eight to 10 years.”  

We wouldn’t be surprised, Ivanna, if it came sooner than that.      

Bahamian Ivanna Seymour worked on a mailboat, then spent nearly seven years on bulk carriers, isolated from the outside world for months at a time before joining Royal Caribbean in 2019 and taking on the highest post of a Bahamian female, second officer. She hopes one day to become the first Bahamian female captain of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. Royal Caribbean Group named its first female captain in 2007 and eight years later, its first American woman to take the helm of one of its Celebrity Cruises ships.     

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Over 68,000 STAYED HOME in Bahamas Elections; We have BEST and WORST for Voter Participation

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#TheBahamas, September 21, 2021 – The just-concluded General Election in Bahamas has presented a new shift in governance.  The former ruling part, Free National Movement, lost nearly all the electoral seats it secured in the 2017 general elections.  However, this seems a swap of the Progressive Liberal party’s score in the 2017 general elections in which the former ruling party (FNM) won nearly all the parliamentary seats.

68,000 STAYED AWAY

While the FNM secured 35 out of 39 seats in the 2017 ballot, leaving only four slots for the Opposition, the 2021 elections presented “new day” with the Opposition clinching 32 parliamentary seats, leaving the former ruling party FNM with only seven slots.

However, the election results showed a significant drop in voter turnout compared to the 2017 election results. Out of 194,494 registered voters in The Bahamas, only 126,414 voted, translating to 65 per cent voter turnout.

PREVIOUS ELECTION HIGHER

This was different from the previous election in which 160,407 out of 181,543 registered voters cast their ballots, translating to a remarkable 88.36 per cent voter turnout.

Being the first election in the island nation since the Covid-19 struck the Caribbean; the dismal voter turnout could be attributed to the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in The Bahamas and the current countermeasures taken by individuals to avoid contracting the deadly virus.

It could also be voter apathy.

BEST IN SHOW

Despite coronavirus prevalence in the country, North Andros & Berry Islands, Cat Island, Rum Cay & San Salvador, and Mangrove Cay & South Andros constituencies recorded an impressive voter turnout of 77.99 per cent, 76.11 per cent and 73.06 per cent respectively.

North Andros & Berry Islands had 2,126 out of 2,569 registered voters cast their ballots, followed by 1,255 out of 1,622 in Cat Island, Rum Cay & San Salvador, and 1,706 out of 2,164 registered voters in Mangrove Cay & South Andros.

VERY LOW SHOW

The bottom three constituencies in terms of voter turnout include Bamboo Town, which had 3,436 out of 5,838 (58.63 per cent) registered voters cast their ballot, followed by Garden Hills with 3,033 out of 5,287 (57.09 per cent), and   Central & South Abaco falling at the bottom of the list with 1,844 out of 3,271 (55.96 per cent).

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BAHAMAS: Nine new Cabinet ministers sworn-in

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#TheBahamas, September 21, 2021 – Prime Minister the Hon. Philip Davis today introduced the first set of new Cabinet ministers with portfolios covering the Attorney General, Foreign Affairs, Education, Works and Public Utilities, Health and Wellness, Government Affairs, Agriculture, National Security and Legal Affairs.

The nine ministers were sworn-in on Monday 20 September 2021 by Governor-General the Most Hon. Sir Cornelius A. Smith during ceremonies held at the Baha Mar Convention Center.

“They are the initial members of a Cabinet which will reflect the breadth and depth of the competencies and characteristics of our team: experience combined with innovation; expertise combined with a willingness to see things anew; integrity and a strong sense of purpose,” said Prime Minister Davis.

“They are receiving these appointments because of their determination to get things done.”

Among the new Ministers sworn-in on Monday were:

  • Senator the Hon. L. Ryan Pinder, Attorney General;
  • Hon. Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Public Service;
  • Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin, Minister of Education, and Technical and Vocational Training;
  • Hon. Alfred Sears, Minister of Works and Utilities;
  • Dr. Hon. Michael Darville, Minister of Health and Wellness;
  • Senator the Hon. Michael Halkitis, Minister of Government Affairs and Leader of Government Business in the Senate;
  • Hon. Clay Sweeting, Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs;
  • Hon. Wayne Munroe, Minister of National Security; and
  • Hon. Jomo Campbell, Minister of State for Legal Affairs.

“I am confident that these first-appointed members of our Cabinet team are ready to deliver on the promise of a New Day for our Bahamas,” said the Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Davis pledged to move with urgency to address the economic and health crises that are faced by The Bahamas.

Many thousands of Bahamians are out of work, people are losing too many loved ones to the COVID-19 virus and Bahamian schoolchildren are falling behind, said Prime Minister Davis.

“I want to be clear: we are not here to tinker at the edges of these problems,” said the Prime Minister.

“We are here to meet them head on.”

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Prime Minister Hon. Philip Davis pledges to govern in the interests of all Bahamians

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#TheBahamas, September 19, 2021 – During his ceremonial swearing-in today as the nation’s fifth Prime Minister, Hon. Philip Davis pledged to govern in the interests of all Bahamians and to consult widely with the Bahamian people.

The best way to make progress as a nation is to bring people together, said Prime Minister Davis, who was presented with his instruments of Office in ceremonies held at the Baha Mar Convention Centre, on Saturday 18 September 2021.

Prime Minister Davis was officially sworn in as Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas on Friday 17 September 2021 at the Office of the Governor General.

“We will uphold the constitution and the rule of law, and ensure that everyone is treated fairly, so that it’s not one rule for one set of people, and another for another set of people,” said the Prime Minister.

“There is much work to be done; but I know that by working together we can succeed and build the kind of prosperous, independent Bahamas that our founding fathers dreamed for us.”

Prime Minister Davis said that while there are big challenges ahead for The Bahamas, his team has the right vision and policies to take the country forward.

The Prime Minister said the new administration is coming into office at a time when the Bahamian people are hurting as never before.

The country faces many crises due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an economy in decline and deeply concerning challenges in education, said Prime Minister Davis.

If everyone works together towards a common purpose, in the common interest and for the common good, great things are possible for The Bahamas and its people, said the Prime Minister.

But no government can do great things on its own, Prime Minister Davis added.

“I am sure that my government can only succeed if we partner with the Bahamian people,” said the Prime Minister.
“We are going to listen, we are going to consult widely and we are going to bring people together.”

_
18 September 2021
Office of the Prime Minister
Commonwealth of The Bahamas
Contact: opmcommunications@bahamas.gov.bs
Website: opm.gov.bs

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