Throughout the history of yachting there has arguably only been one luxury yacht that has become a legend. The ‘Christina O’, originally the private yacht of Aristotle Onassis, is after a complete refurbishment from 1999 to 2001, now available for private yacht charters accommodating up to 30 guests. Karen Kelly, owner of All Yachts Worldwide located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is one of the select few who has had the opportunity to cruise onboard ‘Christina O’. Here is a recount of her stay onboard:
Upon arriving into Nice airport, I cleared customs and then walked a short distance to the private terminal and boarded a helicopter for a breathtaking 8 minute flight to Monaco. I spent the weekend at the port taking in the sites of Monaco and dancing at Jimmy Zs till the wee hours of the morning. On Monday, I headed to the Welcome Hotel in Villefranche where I was to board ‘Christina O’. When I told the driver where I was going he said “oh yes she pulled into port last night and was in Cannes the night before and San Cap Feret the night prior…” It seems the whole South of France follows ‘Christina O’s every movement hoping to catch a glimpse of a celebrity, a member of a royal family or perhaps some other famous person onboard.
Crew members of ‘Christina O’ pulled up alongside the dock in their tender to take me for a short boat ride to where the yacht was anchored. I was greeted with a flute of champagne while the crew took care of my luggage. A stewardess asked if I would like them to unpack my suitcase. I said “sounds great”. While enjoying a light lunch of salad nicoise washed down by some French wine of the region, the other guests arrived. While they were divulging in the freshly made desserts, I headed to my cabin to settle in knowing there would be plenty more of those tempting treats throughout the various gastronomic courses which were to be served onboard. Enroute to my cabin I stopped to check out the gym and the complimentary Sixth Senses Spa treatments. I signed up for a facial and massage for the following morning.
During Onassis’s time he entertained guests onboard with names such as Maria Callas, The Begum Aga Kahn, John Paul Getty, John D. Rockefeller, Eva Peron, Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, King Farouk of Egypt, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Rudolf Nureyev, John Wayne, Greta Garbo, and Dame Margot Fonteyn.
John F. Kennedy and Sir Winston Churchill first met as guests of Aristotle Onassis on board the ‘Christina O’. Two of the most celebrated wedding receptions were held on board – Prince Rainer to Grace Kelly, and Onassis to Jackie Kennedy.
There are ten guest staterooms on the main deck and eight staterooms on the lower cabin deck. On the way to my suite, located on the main deck, one of the stewardesses met me in the passageway and asked if I would like anything ironed for the evening. I walked to my cabin to be pleasantly surprised. Not only was my cabin spacious and spotlessly clean, but I immediately felt a sense of familiarity. My clothes were hanging in the closet, shoes neatly laid out, my computer was on the desk and my books and magazines neatly stored on the shelves. My hat was on the couch, personal toiletries were in the bathroom. I felt right at home. Talk about personalized service, this topped it all, completed of course, with a beautiful sea view from my window. The ample sized bathroom had a large shower with six jets, endless hot water and wonderful water pressure. The intoxicating bath products soothed my soul and relaxed my mind. My cabin consisted of a queen size bed, two end tables, a desk and a couch. The plasma TV was complete with DVD and CD player and Bose surround sound speakers. Each cabin has an individual thermostat for individual comfort zones.
Our welcome reception was set for 6pm in the Show Lounge which is a magnificent room with huge bay windows offering a panoramic view. The 10 guests and I arrived promptly to be greeted with champagne and caviar and other mouth watering appetizers. We were then led into the library and introduced to Captain John who hailed from the UK, David, the French mâitre de, and a few of the other 36 crew. The Captain instructed us on safety procedures and informed us where the lifejackets were stowed. David gave us a brief background of his travels and education including his expansive knowledge of wine. He also said to be certain to let him know when we wanted to go ashore so that he could arrange for us to get into the top night clubs and restaurants. We were then taken on a tour back in time. Walking from room to room and seeing all the history was amazing. In the library there were many books with original photos and on the wall was Maria Callas’s gold record. Blending in with the old and the new was a current selection of newspapers in various languages along with a laptop for internet.
We then walked up the spiral staircase to the Onassis suite while holding onto the original brass handrails and admiring the onyx pillars and the mosaic floor below. The large study still has the original fireplace and the original pink Baccarat chandeliers, and a Renoir . The master bath was complete with Jacuzzi tub and jet shower. We then took the elevator down to the main deck.
Upon entering the Music room, pictures of Frank Sinatra were prominently displayed and the background music was none other than ‘New York New York’. The authentic Steinway Baby Grande piano was a sight to behold and complimented by a gallery of photos reflecting life on board the yacht during the Onassis years.
Leaving the formal dining area lit by original Baccarat crystal wall lights and boasting an original Renoir, we were in Ari’s bar and shown the original ‘foreskin’ covered bar stools! I immediately reached out to touch the top of the stool and Captain John congratulated me on being in the 80% of women who touched the whale’s foreskin. It is said that it was just one foreskin which covered all the stools. When Marilyn Monroe was a guest of Onassis, he proudly bragged to her that she was sitting on the foreskin of a whale! An original world map is in the bar but sadly the country of Czech Republic was scratched off. This is most likely due to the fact that the yacht was in restoration in Greece during the period when there was an invasion of communism in that part of the world.
The Lapis Lounge next door had several couches for relaxing. This elegant lounge owes its name to the breathtaking Lapis Lazuli fireplace which is a focal point in the room. The aft deck offers al-fresco dining and dancing. The original mosaic tile floor covers the pool and acts as a dance floor or venue for various entertainers.
The promenade deck consists of an open air bar, al-fresco dining, a jacuzzi and plenty of chairs for sunning and umbrellas. The sun lounge area can also be used for a helipad. After a tantalizing meal served al-fresco on the main deck, complete with homemade pasta, and desserts, I strolled on deck to admire the starlit sky and full moon before retiring to my cabin. My bed had been turned down and a nightgown placed on the pillow. Fresh towels were in the bathroom. Was it the Venetian cotton linens or the full palate or the fresh air which put me to sleep in no time at all? The DVD I had planned on watching while in bed went untouched. The next morning when I woke up we were halfway to St. Tropez.
While the others went ashore, two guests and I opted to stay onboard and indulge in the various spa treatments and beauty salon . The Sixth Senses Spa treatment onboard was second to none. The aromas and massage were very relaxing.
After the delicious food we were consuming, prepared by our Michelin Star Italian chef, the modern fitness center was certainly needed and tempting. Back in my stateroom, instead of donning work out clothes I changed into my swim suit. I spent the late morning and early afternoon sipping on mimosas while soaking in the hot tub after a refreshing dip in the salt water swimming pool. The crew had fresh towels laid out on the sun deck as well as an assortment of sun products.
Later that afternoon I ventured ashore, did some shopping and enjoyed St. Tropez. The marina was filled with superyachts and I was lucky enough to run into a friend of mine who was captain of a 50 metre charter yacht and he gave us a tour. After returning by tender to the ‘Christina O’ the weather was a bit balmy so we had dinner in the Main Dining Room which features fine hand finished tables, Venetian lace tablecloths, Waterford crystalware and Ercuis silverware. It is centered on a sunken marble floor with the capacity to entertain a party of 40. We had planned on going ashore to one of the night clubs but the atmosphere onboard was too pleasant to leave.
We wrapped up the evening in Ari’s bar attempting to drink the champagne bar dry and creating our own private nightclub in Ari’s bar. We danced until the wee hours as one of the guests hooked up her Ipod to the music system and played DJ. Terri the bartender kept us in a gala mood as he endlessly stirred, blended, and whipped up everyone’s favorite spirits.
The following day we headed to Cannes. Most of us spent the day lounging in the Lapis Lounge reading books or watching movies. We were planning on going to Monaco for the evening but we decided to stay in Cannes as the winds were blowing from the South which would have made an uncomfortable evening while anchored in Monaco Harbor.
Most meals were spent dining al-fresco with breakfast also being served in the Lapis Lounge and Dining Room. Breakfast was a buffet of freshly made croissants and pastries, a variety of cereals and freshly squeezed juice coffee and tea. A full hot breakfast to order was also available. Lunch was an open menu with your choice of salads, sandwiches, soups, seafood, or pasta. Happy hour always had a fresh variety of hor d’oeuvres and dinner was a six course meal starting with soup and salad and ending with zero calorie deserts, assorted cheeses and biscuits along with a tri-level fountain of chocolates and liqueurs. The following day regrettably we departed from our few days of bliss. While at breakfast the stewardess packed all of my bags making certain nothing was left behind. My laundry was done every evening and returned later that day neatly pressed
and put away in the drawers. In fact I had a few soiled items when I arrived and these were promptly washed and folded with out my even asking. Leaving with clean clothes, this was a first! David informed us our taxis were waiting ashore. I was staying in Cannes for a few days to enjoy the boat show which was taking place at the time.
We all signed the guest book prior to departing. Being whisked off by tender the same way we arrived, I looked back at the legend of the sea with pleasant memories of my time onboard. The scent of the fresh flowers and the memories of the wonderful meals and place settings were still in my mind. “Yes, I was one of the discerning few.”
You now have the unique opportunity to share the lifestyle of the discerning few. ‘Christina O’ will be cruising the East and West Mediterranean and is available for charter.
For further information, please contact All Yachts Worldwide to arrange your dream vacation while availability lasts. Email: Karen@allyachtsworldwide.com or phone direct: +1 954 632 3555