Picton back in the cruise ship business
Ruth de Reus was rearranging her Picton art gallery late into the night on Tuesday as she wanted the place ready for the influx of cruise ship passengers the following morning.
‘‘We bring out a lot of our smaller stock items to make it easier for people to take with them travelling, a lot of typical Kiwiana items as well, and rearranging all the displays . . . so it’s exciting.’’
The Raukura Art Gallery and Giftware store, on Picton’s High St, opened at 8.30am on Wednesday, 90 minutes earlier than usual, as the Ovation of the Seas berthed in the port town.
The Royal Caribbean ship, with 4500 people on board, was the first cruise ship in Picton in 21⁄2 years, when Covid-19 closed the country’s borders. It was confirmed on Wednesday that the ship had about 130 Covid cases onboard.
De Reus and her gallery salesperson Richelle Hendry had masks at the ready, but they were not too concerned about Covid on the cruise ships.
The shop would open at 8.30am every time a ship was in town, and stay open until 6.30pm or 7pm, with three staff working, de Reus said.
Marlborough Trike Tours owner Kent Stevenson, who runs three V-8 super trikes around Picton, was – by 8.30am – fully booked until lunchtime.
Stevenson had about 10 different tours, but was taking people to Karaka Point on Wednesday, ‘‘to show off the Sounds’’.
The Ovation of the Seas was the first of 48 ships scheduled to visit Picton this season, and there were plenty of people in town spending money.
Paperfish Picton manager Matt Richards said it was exciting to see a lot of people walking around town.
He was curious to see if the influx of people would lead to more sales.
Paperfish had five staff working, and opened two hours early ‘‘to see if people walking around want breakfast’’, Richards said.
‘‘We made sure we have enough of everything. We are prepared for twice what we normally do.’’
Meanwhile, the souvenir shops were pulling in the crowds, as was the cruise ship market on the foreshore.
Sydney couple Michelle and Damon Thurgar were looking for a fluffy kiwi for their 18-yearold daughter and some other bits and pieces.
Michelle Thurgar said this was their second time on the Ovation of the Seas but their first time in Picton.
‘‘It’s absolutely beautiful, and we have just booked a tour on a boat at 10.30am to go to see the seals.’’
Tasmanian couple Suzanne and Craig Coleman were also in Picton for the first time.
‘‘It’s a very pretty place. My husband loves seafood, so we are hoping to find some mussels,’’
Suzanne Coleman said.
‘‘We have decided to just have a walk around, see what’s around the town, there is a museum, an aquarium ... We’ve just walked along the waterfront,’’ Coleman said.
Picton healthcare pharmacy pharmacist Graeme Smith said returning cruise ships were good for the businesses in town that had struggled for the past two years, but he was concerned about passengers not wearing masks in the pharmacy.
‘‘There is a lot of people without masks coming in for cough [and] cold [remedies] and I know that Covid is on that ship.
‘‘As a health facility people are supposed to wear a mask coming in.
‘‘We have free masks on the counter and a sign, but people are ignoring it.
‘‘There are so many people you can’t control it,’’ Smith said.
Destination Marlborough general manager Jacqui Lloyd said Public Health put a message out to tour operators the day before the cruise ship docked in Picton, saying there were some cases of Covid and gastroenteritis onboard.
Gastro, with symptoms such as diarrhoea and vomiting, was ‘‘quite common’’ on cruise ships, Lloyd said.
‘‘We’ve had ships coming before with gastro.’’
‘‘Public Health was very comfortable with the protocols put in place by Ovation [of the Seas] and that’s why they have allowed the unaffected passengers to come off.’’