Christina O. It is a ship monument. The 79-year-old has many stories to tell. In the early 1940s she served as a Canadian naval vessel in World War II. In 1950, before the ship completed its 10 years at sea, it was built in 1943 and its purpose changed. Along with $35,000, it ended up in the hands of Aristotle Onassis. It is said to have cost more than $3.5 million to restore it, an exorbitant amount at the time.
It has fallen from its heyday and has been privately owned for two decades. The Newsbeast The shipbuilder-engineer met Kostas Karabela Perama Shipyard. The maintenance work that kept the ship in Greek waters for a few days before leaving for another voyage gave us a chance to visit the legendary yacht.
In 1975 and after the death of the Greek president, Onassis’ daughter Christina donated the luxury yacht to the Greek government with the intention of it being used by the current president. It was renamed “Argo”. After two decades and little use, the government, along with the navy that maintained her, decided that the acquisition of the “Christina O” was unprofitable. “Ship is up for auction”Mr. Karabelas recalled.
“It was bought by a Greek. However, he did not settle for using it, it was in poor condition. He sold it again. The new owner company is 50% owned by Greek businessman John-Paul Papanikolaou and an Irish lawyer from Dublin.” Papanicolaou maintained ties with the Onassis family. Everything pointed to a new lease of life for the historic ship. The new owners commissioned Mr Karabela to transform the sunken corpse into the “Christina” the world knew.
“I saw a sad state. The whole engine room was sitting down, full of water. A disappointing picture.”. The task was very difficult. From Salamis, the intention was to return to the seas of the earth. Here we are in 1998. “It took a lot of research and planning. I suggested they turn it into a passenger ship, with the same safety rules as on cruise ships, but to look like a yacht. Certainly to remind us of what it was like in Onassis’s day.”, told NewsBeast that Mr. Karabelas says. A tough market research followed, but a demanding business.
“They had to find shipyards that offered the possibility of long-term tanking, which was not done in the Greek reality. The ship was towed to Rijeka, Croatia in January 2000. We rolled up our sleeves and handed her over in July 2001. Since then, the legendary “Christina” has been enjoying a second era of glory. “, says an experienced shipbuilding engineer. Mr Karabelas has successfully completed hundreds of projects. I feel he talks about this with the greatest love and passion he can show. Even though two decades have passed since then, when he recalls that period, it is as if he is reliving it. He is proud to be a part of this particular story.
“In 2010, John-Paul Papanikolaou passed away. The Greek businessman became aware of his health problem, and a year ago, he decided to sell the shares to his partner, who owns the ship to this day.He explains to us.
Is everything in “Christina O”? “He doesn’t have all the things that Onassis chose, he has a part, but I think the most valuable”Mr. Karabelas answers. “We used some of the other original pieces that were in good condition when they were bought from auctions.”He adds.
To date, the yacht “Christina O” is one of the 50 largest yachts in the world. If a 99-meter ship built in 1943 ranks 45th in 2022, we can easily understand the differences in many levels from previous decades. The ship’s swimming pool on deck is of particular technology as it was one of the pioneering ideas used by Onassis on his yacht.
A floor made of mosaics depicting a Minoan bull sank 2.5 meters in the morning and resurfaced in the evening to become one with the rest of the floor. A dance floor.
An incident affecting the Greek shipyard took place several kilometers away from the ship. “At the beginning of 2001 when I was building a ship, I went to Antofagasta in Chile on behalf of another company. Returning to the airport to go to Greece, I took a taxi. During the trip, the taxi driver asked where I was from. I answered him from Piraeus. He shook as if he had been electrocuted. “I have been in Praeus for years,” he told me. “How” I asked him. He answered me: “I was in Christina Onassis”. I said to him “Do I have to tell you something now? Now I am rebuilding the ship”. He stopped by the road and started crying.. Before Chile bought a taxi in her country, she was a stewardess on a Greek president’s yacht. Aristotle Onassis liked him and, as he told Costas Garambales, promoted him to a sailor.
The stories are many and interesting, but it’s time to get into the boat…
Collection of Aristotle Onassis
Winston Churchill Library…
and Salon “Maria Callas”
The “Maria Callus” salon is dedicated to the Greek opera treble. All the items that adorn and decorate the place are authentic. From her piano and golden disc, to the gifts she received or the paintings and drawings of the world opera diva.
Famous Bar “Ariz”
“Mars” bar. A place where Aristotle Onassis especially liked to be with his guests. It is one of the few parts of the ship that has managed to keep the style of its original creation. As then, the element of the whale predominates today. “I consider it the best and most important job of the ship”Mr. Karabelas says.
The adventures of Odysseus are engraved on the whale’s teeth around the bar.
And the leather on the seats is from whale testicles. Onassis’ speech to Greta Garbo has gone down in history. “my lady”He told her, “You must feel good because you’re sitting on the world’s largest scrotum”.
Yacht “Christina O” – remaining interiors
Yacht “Christina O”: guest cabins
The ship has 18 cabins, whose names are inspired by the Greek islands, and can accommodate 36 passengers, while the “Christina O” crew has 42 people. Guests can reach up to 156 at receptions.
Nowadays, the ship moves between the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. “Even today the number of personalities it serves is huge”Mr. Karabelas says.
John Kennedy, Winston Churchill. Politicians, princes and kings. Marilyn Monroe, Liz Taylor, Greta Garbo. Frank Sinatra, Richard Burton. Hundreds of special guests. Key figures in Aristotle Onassis’s time and life have gone by “Christina O” in addition to Maria Callas and Jackie Kennedy. Sparkling garlands on the deck, endless conversations at the “Aris” bar. Boat is a part of world history. Since our visit to the famous ship, there will be many pictures, and many of what Kostas Karabelas told us. We came with a question, but…
How could the government not capitalize on such a gem?
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