It was a welcome to Art Deco Napier which left the commanding officer of the visiting French patrol ship La Moqueuse, Lieutenant Francois-Xavier Madec and two of his senior officers grinning from ear to ear.
In the company of the Bay's navy liaison officer Lieutenant Commander Neville Smith, they went on a quick tour of the central city in his vintage 1936 Buick 8 after the vessel docked at 9am yesterday.
"They were just blown away by it," Lt Cdr Smith said.
"We stopped for a coffee and people were coming up and saying hello and asking to have their photos taken with them. People were waving and smiling ... they said they felt like they were in a movie."
Lt Madec, 32, was captivated with his first visit to Napier.
He has been to Wellington, Auckland and the South Island, but never to the Bay before - and it was his first taste of the magic of Art Deco.
"I have read about it and we are all looking forward to it so much," he said, adding that he was ensuring all the ship's 31 crew would get an opportunity to embrace it.
"The city is beautiful - very nice."
He said it was also beautiful to sail into the calm and glistening Bay after what he said was one of the roughest passages out of his home port of Noumea in New Caledonia in the 18 months he has commanded the patrol ship, one of four French navy ships based in the Pacific.
"Once we got near New Zealand it all calmed down."
During a lunch on the ship yesterday attended by Mayor Barbara Arnott and French consul representative Maryse Malet-Antonique, Lieutenant Madec smiled and said French sailors ate "the best food".
"It can be hard work at sea so we must eat well," he said, adding he was so impressed with the chef who had been temporarily posted aboard that he may not let him go.
"Napier people love the navy," Mrs Arnott told him.
"It is always exciting to have the navy here - and especially a visiting navy over Art Deco Weekend."
The ship's company will join the crew from the New Zealand patrol ship HMNZS Rotoiti, and a large army contingent, in the big Saturday parade up Emerson St.
To further get into the Art Deco swing the patrol ship last night also hosted a private cocktail party for local politicians and other dignitaries.