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Onassis’ Legendary Yacht “Christina O” Spotted Off Nafplio, Greece

Onassis Yacht
The yacht has been a host to several celebrities and influential figures of the 20th century. Credit: Argolikes Eidiseis

Aristotle Onassis’ legendary yacht “Christina O“, a luxury boat has hosted some of the world’s biggest celebrities in the past century, has been spotted on patrol in the Arvanitia gulf of the city of Nafplio.

The yacht has been a host to several celebrities and influential figures of the 20th century when it was owned by Greek billionaire Aristotle Onassis.

Among those who have graced its decks over the years were Winston Churchill, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, JFK, Frank Sinatra, Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco and, of course, Onassis’ wife and former First Lady of the US, Jackie Kennedy Onassis.

At 99.06 metres long, Christina O  was originally a Canadian anti-submarine River-class frigate called HMCS Stormont and was launched in 1943.

She served as a convoy escort during the WWII Battle of the Atlantic and was present at the Normandy landings.

After the end of the Second World War, she was one of many surplus naval vessels; Onassis purchased her at a scrap value of $34,000. He then spent US$4 million to convert her into a luxurious super-yacht named after his daughter Christina.

Upon Onassis’ death, Christina donated the yacht to the Greek government as a presidential yacht, renamed Argo.

Allowed to decay, the vessel was purchased in 1998 by fellow Greek shipping magnate John Paul Papanicolaou, an Onassis family friend, who secured it in a government-sponsored auction.

He spent $50 million to retrofit her, restoring her previous name in honor of his then-departed friend, Christina. Since Papanicolaou’s death in 2010, Christina O has been rented for private charters and cruises.

Life aboard Onassis’ legendary yacht

The captain of Aristotle Onassis’ legendary yacht “Christina O” recently broke his long self-imposed silence, speaking about the celebrities the Greek tycoon once entertained onboard.

In an extensive interview with Greek daily Espresso, Giorgos Zacharias spoke about Onassis’ kindness to his staff and recalled personalities such as Winston Churchill, Greta Garbo, Maria Callas, and Jackie Onassis.

Zacharias, who served as the captain of the yacht for ten years, said that Onassis treated him as a trusted and valued employee. He was often the dining companion of the billionaire.

“Churchill was a very weird person…Because of his weight, most of the time he was sitting on a chair eating, sleeping or drinking,” the captain related. “He emptied whole bottles of whisky while on board.”

Zacharias said that “he will never forget Greta Garbo.” The Hollywood actress, in her heyday during the 1920s and 1930s, was much older when she befriended Onassis, but she was “still elegant and beautiful.”

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