Oh, CHRISTINA!

Anyone venturing to London with the slightest interest in classic ships and luxury yachts has a treat in store at the Canary Wharf. The 325 by 36 foot former Onassis yacht CHRISTINA O is now open for daily tours.

CHRISTINA O at London.

For more information, please go to: www.thejackieoexperience.com

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All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2012 unless otherwise noted.

The face of fame and fortune.

Even if she weren’t the playground of the wealthiest and most glamorous people of the 20th Century, the MV CHRISTINA O would still be a fascinating subject, simply for her splendid maritime architecture.

Spiraling down to a mosaic “O".

After decades of neglect and obscurity, the now glistening super yacht was originally a Canadian frigate built for World War Two service and rebuilt by Aristotle Onassis at a German shipyard in 1954 as one of the most opulent and sleek ships of the day.

The Callas Lounge is furnished with rare artifacts celebrating the legendary opera singer who frequently rendezvoused with Onassis aboard the CHRISTINA.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the CHRISTINA was the playground of such luminaries as Winston Churchill, JFK, Onassis’ mistress Maria Callas, Greta Garbo, Grace Kelley and Frank Sinatra. After he married Jackie Kennedy, the former first family vacationed aboard with her children.

Through these portals...

When Onassis died in 1975, the yacht was passed on to her tragic namesake, Christina Onassis, who in turn donated her to the Greek government. Instead of becoming a presidential yacht, CHRISTINA O lay tucked away at Perama until 1999, when the rust-streaked derelict was towed off to a Croatian shipyard, re engined with diesels and restored to her original glory over a period of two years.

Sign.

The vessel accommodates 36 guests and is available for charter at USD $65,000 per day. But for a mere 15 pounds, you can see what all the fuss is about and take a narrated tour of most of the ship’s public areas.

Shoe covers are supplied.

Open daily from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM, the sleek white vessel will be off on charter for the London Olympics and sailing back into the realm of the inaccessible.

Lapis Lounge, facing aft.

On a gloomy afternoon this past April, Peter Knego went on board and was able to take a number of photos. While photography is a sensitive issue, he worked with the ship’s representative to capture as much of the CHRISTINA as possible.

A Decked! feature will soon follow…

With special thanks: Martin Cox, David JeanJean, Mike Masino

Peter Knego

Peter Knego

Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea.  With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications.  Knego also runs the www.midshipcentury.com website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India.  He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."
Peter Knego
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