'Love at first sight' for cruise couple

It was ''love at first sight'' for Dutch couple Frans and Tessa Visser, who sailed into Dunedin yesterday aboard their very own love boat, Costa neoRomantica.

Mr and Mrs Visser embarked on a cruise on the Italian vessel on September 17 to celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary, and upon reaching Dunedin spent some time sightseeing in the Octagon between kisses and cuddles.

Mrs Visser said she and her husband were still very much in love, and happy to display their affection for fellow cruise-ship passengers armed with cameras.

''It was love at first sight,'' she said, before pulling her husband in for a kiss.

The couple were among about 2000 cruise-ship passengers and 1000 crew members in Dunedin yesterday from Costa neoRomantica (formerly Costa Romantica) and Crystal Symphony.

Both vessels had travelled south from Akaroa and last night departed Port Chalmers for Milford Sound.

Norma Nesbitt and Art Levins, of Canada, said spending Christmas Day aboard Crystal Symphony was wonderful.

''We were waited on hand and foot and the food was outstanding,'' Ms Nesbitt said.

Her son and daughter, with their spouses and four children, were also on the cruise ship.

It was the first time Ms Nesbitt had been to New Zealand and the first time she had spent Christmas on a cruise liner.

''It's just wonderful having your clothes in one place and not having to put your suitcases out like when travelling by bus. Everything's easy,'' she said.

German couple Marianne and Werner Eimer had taken a cruise on Costa neoRomantica to escape the northern hemisphere winter and were thrilled by their first visit to the South Island.

The couple toured the North Island about 20 years ago.

Mr and Mrs Eimer said New Zealand was ''doing a lot'' for cruise-ship passengers.

At each port they visited there was plenty of information about attractions and events, and certain things were organised especially for cruise passengers, they said.

One such event was a special concert at St Paul's Cathedral in the Octagon yesterday.

''New Zealanders are also very friendly, which we like,'' Mrs Eimer said.

Costa neoRomantica is part of the fleet of Italian cruise-ship company Costa Crociere, whose vessel Costa Concordia hit a reef off the Italian coast and ran aground on January 13.

More than 4000 people on board had to be evacuated in the partial sinking, in which 30 people were known to have died and 64 others were injured.

Scheduled to return to Dunedin today is Voyager of the Seas, which can carry up to 3114 passengers and 1181 crew.

The next cruise ship to visit will be Celebrity Solstice, which is due to arrive on Sunday.

- rosie.manins@odt.co.nz

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