If you like your boats to have a bit of history, we’ve come across a yacht that has possibly one of the most interesting backgrounds imaginable. You can now cruise to the Galápagos Islands in Ecuador on the M/Y Grace, which was given as a wedding present to Prince Rainier of Monaco and his bride, Grace Kelly, in 1956 by Greek shipping magnate, Aristotle Onassis.
The M/Y Grace was built in Southampton, England, and launched in 1928. She was first owned by Argentinean tycoon, Santiago Soulas, who named her after his daughter Monica. He kept her for four years before selling her to Zarch Couyoumbian from Greece, who renamed her Rion.
In 1938, Sir George Tilley acquired her, and then the British Royal Navy conscripted the yacht during World War II. They equipped her with ammunition and sent her to patrol the entrances to the Solent and along the Isle of Wight.
The boat was renamed HMS Noir and experienced some structural damage during the war, and she was repaired and returned to Sir George Tilley in 1947. In 1951, Aristotle Onassis’ charter firm acquired the yacht and renamed her Arion, and the tycoon then gave her to Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco as a wedding present.
The royal couple christened her Deo Juvente II and they honeymooned in her along the coasts of Corsica and Sardinia. Princess Grace used the yacht to entertain guests of the principality on day-long excursions on the Mediterranean, and went on holidays with her family between the Italian and French rivieras. After the royal family sold her, she had various owners and name changes until Quasar Expeditions acquired her in 2007 and rechristened her the M/Y Grace.
Over the course of the next two years the yacht was beautifully refitted and restored, and has now embarked on her new era as an elegant ship cruising the Galápagos Islands. She can accommodate approximately 25 guests, and there are various itineraries packed full of adventure to enjoy on this little piece of nautical history.
For further information on M/Y Grace and her expeditions, see here.