A pot of locally produced manuka honey was hurriedly transported to the Seven Seas Mariner on Sunday after its captain made an unusual request.
The sweet twist to the traditional gift exchange with a cruise ship making its maiden call happened while Gisborne Deputy Mayor Rehette Stoltz was on board.
“Captain Ubaldo 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’s 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, he told me his wife had requested he get some manuka honey for their children to eat and that it had to have a high unique manuka honey factor for its antibacterial qualities.”
With the help of Eastland Port staff back on land a jar of local Pauariki manuka honey was dispatched to Captain Ubaldo on one of the tender boats returning passengers to the ship.
While on board Ms Stoltz received a tour of the 11-story 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 ever again.
“The ship was stunning and it would appear that passengers’ every want and need is met with personalised service and luxurious comfort.”
The receipt of the ship’s dedication plaque is a long-standing naval tradition and Ms Stoltz says, “it was a special privilege to be involved in the ceremony”.
Six-star luxury cruise ship 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 with say they enjoyed Gisborne for its taste of real New Zealand and it’s down-to-earth tourist experiences.
Now back on board the 216m long ship guests are enjoying the remainder of their 16-night cruise that started in Auckland, takes them around the South Island, and finishes in Sydney.
The fourth cruise ship visiting Gisborne this cruise season will be Maasdam on Thursday.
Image: Gisborne deputy mayor Rehette Stoltz and Seven Seas Mariner Captain Ubaldo Armellino from Rome exchanged gifts on board the luxury cruise ship during her maiden visit to Gisborne on Sunday. Strike Photography.