In 1954, the late Aristotle Onassis acquired a frigate that saw action in Normandy during World War II. While he didn’t initially set out to convert her into a yacht, that’s what he ultimately did—and ultimately, he turned her into Christina, known today as Christina O, one of the world’s most famous superyachts.
At 325 feet (99.13 meters), this was no mere boat. Even in today’s world, that length turns heads, so imagine the astonishment 60 years ago. Fascinatingly, Onassis acquired her for her scrap value: $34,000, which in today’s dollars would be roughly $511,600. The total pales in comparison to what he spent to rebuild and renovate her. It was worth every penny to Onassis. And, the end result was nothing short of spectacular. Christina, christened in honor of his daughter, wined and dined world leaders, Hollywood elite, and numerous other dignitaries for nearly two decades under his ownership. Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor… Winston Churchill… the Aga Khan… Frank Sinatra… Jackie Kennedy. The list goes on.
Upon his death in 1975, Christina O passed to the Greek government, for use as a presidential yacht. Unfortunately, the government eventually could not keep up with the maintenance costs. Christina O deteriorated for years, until the late 1990s, when a gentleman with ties to the Onassis family stepped in to rescue her.
Thanks to him, today you can walk on the same decks and in the same rooms, meticulously restored, as Burton and Taylor as well as all those other famous faces. In fact, you can relax in one of the Hollywood couple’s favorite places. It’s in front of the lapis lazuli-fronted fireplace, in the main deck’s Lapis Lounge. Imagine hearing opera diva Maria Callas sing to the tune coming from the piano in the aptly named Maria Callas Lounge. The singer and Onassis had quite the stormy affair. In her honor, the room features plentiful memorabilia.
Even more rooms aboard Christina O could tell amazing stories if their walls could talk. These are the types of stories we love to retell in our books—and we share at least one more famous (infamous, really) tale about the superyacht in Spectacular Superyachts: Inspired Interiors. It involves Ari’s Bar (above), the extraordinary cocktail lounge adjacent to the formal dining room. Onassis had the bar stools covered with whale foreskin. Want to know what he’d tell his guests? Turn to page 31 in the book to find out… then be sure to admire the rest of her interior, featured in six full-color pages.
To experience the luxury in person, Christina O is available for charter via the central agency of Morley Yachts.