A pot of locally-produced manuka honey was hurriedly transported to the Seven Seas Mariner cruise ship after her captain made an unusual request.
The sweet twist to the traditional gift exchange with a cruise ship making its maiden call happened on Sunday while Gisborne Deputy Mayor Rehette Stoltz was on board.
“Captain Ubaldo Armellino was a lovely man and seemed very pleased to be visiting Gisborne for the first time, but we weren’t prepared for his interest in some local manuka honey,” says Ms Stoltz.
When new vessels visit a port for the first time it is customary to exchange gifts and ship plaques. Gisborne’s gift to the ship was a framed ceremonial bone fish hook signifying strength and safety over water. The hook was carved at The Stone Studio and a plaque was received in return.
“During the exchange the captain told me his wife had requested he get some manuka honey for their children and that it had to have a high unique manuka honey factor for its antibacterial qualities,” said Ms Stoltz.
With the help of Eastland Port staff back on land, a jar of Pauariki manuka honey was dispatched to Captain Armellino on one of the tender boats returning passengers to the ship.
While on board, Ms Stoltz received a tour of the six-star, 11-deck, fully-refurbished luxury ship, which sails with 430 crew and offers high-end cruise packages costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.
With elegant suites, dramatic dining areas, and opulent guest spaces, the floating hotel is a sumptuous experience and one that Ms Stoltz suspects she is unlikely to experience again.
“The ship was stunning and it would appear that passengers’ every want and need are met with a personalised service and luxurious comfort.”
The receiving of the ship’s dedication plaque is a long-standing naval tradition.
Ms Stoltz said “it was a special privilege to be involved in the ceremony”.
Seven Seas Mariner anchored in Poverty Bay early Sunday morning. The majority of its 650 passengers came ashore to explore Gisborne for the day, enjoying their choice of local activities, including lunch at a vineyard, cycle tours and a visit to the stingrays at Tatapouri.
Passengers spoken to enjoyed Gisborne as a taste of real New Zealand and down-to-earth tourist experiences.
The 16-night cruise started in Auckland and finishes in Sydney.
The fourth ship visiting Gisborne this cruise season is the Maasdam on Thursday.