The purchase of the ship gave Aristotle Onassis immense satisfaction. In Pavlos Ioannidis’s words, it was the most luxurious private yacht of its time: Onassis was very proud of his asset and almost considered it home. “This is the only place in the world where I don’t feel a stranger” Onassis once said. Nowhere else was he happier than when on his 325ft (99m) yacht. The conversion of the old Canadian frigate into what King Farouk of Saudi Arabia once described as “the ultimate opulence” had cost Onassis more than 4 million dollars.
The yacht’s library was packed with works by Greek classical authors and other leather-bound books. In the dining room, two paintings depicted Tina Onassis in ice-skates in one and Alexander and Christina having a picnic on the grass in the other. The bar stools were covered with white whale skin. The pool bottom rose to deck level, instantly becoming a dance floor, inlaid with mosaics portraying scenes from Greek mythology. The sense of affluence was enhanced by the lapis lazuli mantel of the fireplace, the bar handholds ornately carved with themes from the Iliad and Odyssey, and the staircase with the marble handrail.
For himself, Onassis had reserved a 4 bedroom suite with a bath of blue Sienna marble, a replica of a bathroom from a Minoan palace. On the walls hung Venetian mirrors. There were nine more suites, each named after a Greek island. The “Ithaki” suite always accommodated the finest of guests, among whom were Greta Garbo, Jackie Kennedy, Maria Callas, Winston Churchill, Umberto Agnelli of the FIAT Group, John Paul Getty and many Hollywood stars.
It is rumoured that Richard Burton had once said “I am positive that there is no man or woman that will not be seduced by this yacht”. This yacht was where Onassis’s fabled romances evolved, first with Maria Callas and then with Kennedy’s widow.
The yacht featured the last word in technology with systems highly innovative for the time: radar, communications, air-conditioning, electronic temperature control for the pool water, and much more.
The yacht was usually docked either at Skorpios or in Monte Carlo, and Onassis used her frequently for cruises to Venice, the Ionian islands, Piraeus, Delos, Mikonos, Lesvos, Athos, Istanbul, Smyrna, Crete, while he even went as far as the Caribbean. His amphibian aircraft, Piaggio, later to prove fatal for his son, always escorted him on his trips and was at the service of his guests. “Aboard Christina, Onassis combined work with pleasure”, states Pavlos Ioannidis. “It was more of a home. He loved pampering his guests, he adored the sea just as he did every part of his business. Stelios Papadimitriou asked him once ‘What will happen afterwards, Mr. Onassis?’ ‘You will keep my business alive’ answered Onassis, ‘I am the business’.”
Pavlos Ioannidis explains that “In 1999, the Greek government announced its decision to sell the yacht to the Greek ship-owner, Yiannis-Pavlos Papanicolaou, who transformed her into a modern high-quality charter boat. The yacht underwent complete refurbishment and was fitted with new engines; the old engines were removed and one of them was salvaged thanks to Constantine Philippou’s initiative and the sponsorship from the Onassis Foundation.
Her maintenance costs were extremely high: many hundreds thousands of dollars annually. In 1978, Christina Onassis presented the yacht to the Greek government to be used by the incumbent President of the Republic..
Pavlos Ioannidis states that “As trustees of the estate of Christina Onassis, before delivering the yacht, we made sure that all equipment aboard was recorded in detail.”
Built/Refitted: Christina O was originally built in 1943 as a Canadian Convoy Escort. Bought & refitted as a yacht by Aristotle Onassis in 1954, Christina O was restored & extensively refitted in 1999-2001.
The Yacht sleeps 36 guests in:
- Onassis suite (bridge deck) with Jacuzzi bathroom & private lounge en suite
- 10 guest cabins forward on the main deck
- 8 guest cabins aft on the cabin (sea) deck
- All but one guest cabin are convertible from twin to double
- All cabins with en suite shower room, TV/DVD/CD/Stereo
Compass Deck: Galaxy Bar, Sun Lounges
Fuel cons: 750 l/hr cruising