Borough President Markowitz was the first city official to ever lecture on a cruise ship while still in office, The Brooklyn Paper has learned.
Markowitz drew some criticism last week for his free — yet legal — cruise on the Queen Mary 2, a complimentary fare he received from Cunard in exchange for giving three lectures on tourism and doing question-and-answer sessions with the ship’s passengers.
“In Cunard’s more than 165-year history, the line has sailed many luminaries and high-profile guests, [but] this is the first time we have had a serving New York–elected official lecture [passengers],” said Cunard spokeswoman Jackie Matthews.
Markowitz got a free ticket from Cunard, but paid his wife’s share of the $2,600 room — and was subsequently upgraded to a room nearly double in price, Cunard said.
Markowitz said the free trip and the upgrade was not a payback for his support in getting the city’s $56-million Brooklyn Cruise Terminal built in Red Hook, but because of his expertise in pitching Brooklyn as a tourist destination.
“[Passengers] had questions about transportation — about how to get around Brooklyn, and they wanted to know about our hotels,” he said.
Markowitz said that his audience of 450 people also had questions about how to spend a few hours in the borough.
“It made me think we really need to have a tourism brochure especially for that kind of traveler, a list of different itineraries you only have a half a day here,” he said.
Before setting sail, the deal was approved by the city’s Conflicts of Interest board.
Of course, there is a lingering problem with Markowitz’s cruise.
“I know I gained three pounds,” he said.