Celebrity Yacht Holidays of the ’50s and ’60s

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The image of the classic sailing holiday has forever been one of glamour, style and elegance. You feel the wind in your hair and the sun on your skin as you sail by incredible coastal scenery – and what could be more elegant than lounging on the deck of a gorgeous yacht with a cocktail in hand?

However, as glamorous as they still are today, the original celebrity yacht holidays – and their pioneers, the classic sex bombs of the ’50s and ’60s – continue to dazzle us with their timeless outfits, sexy bikini bods and iconic superyachts. We obsessed over them back then and we continue to obsess over them now.

So, here they are, our favorite celebrity yacht holidays of the ’50s and ’60s sailing gorgeous, iconic yachts:

Grace Kelly, 1953
Grace Kelly, 1953

Brigitte Bardot

When one of the world’s sexiest actresses made her way to St Tropez in the ’50s to star in And God Created Woman, she had no idea just how much of an effect she would have on this sleepy, peaceful fishing town on the far western edge of the Cote D’Azure. After Bardot starred in this iconic film, she solidified St Tropez’s libertine image into a worldwide reputation for illicit pleasures.

This beautiful coastal town never looked back.

Brigitte Bardot Celebrity Yacht Holidays of the '50s and '60s
Brigitte Bardot, 1963

Today, 100,000 visitors trample St Tropez each day during summer, and the locals of this stunning French village continue to prosper through their image as one of the world’s most glamorous sailing destinations. At the Vieux Port, superyachts sit side by side in millionaire moorings and travelers flock from all over the world to get a glimpse of the rich and famous strolling its beautiful beaches.

Bardot still lives in the St Tropez area, so if you’re lucky you might even catch a glimpse of the famous style icon. Get the best of the celebrity yacht holidays of the ’60s!

Brigitte Bardot, 1968
Brigitte Bardot, 1968

Audrey Hepburn

The Breakfast at Tiffany’s star had our hearts from the very beginning. Always stylish from head to toe, we’ve forever loved Audrey’s style at sea. After filming Roman Holiday with Gregory Peck in 1953, Hepburn resided in the Italian capital for over 20 years. Often spending summers sailing around the Mediterranean, Audrey’s classic sailing style is still imitated today, by women all over the world.

Audrey Hepburn, 1954 Celebrity Yacht Holidays of the '50s and '60s
Audrey Hepburn, 1954

Grace Kelly

In April 1956, one of the most glamorous women and actresses of the century married into royalty, stepped on board an incredible yacht and set sail around the Mediterranean for the honeymoon of a lifetime. Grace Kelly is undeniably one of the most glamorous stars to ever feature on our screens, and this classic yacht represented her presence perfectly. The beautiful wooden yacht was gifted to Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco as a wedding gift by shipping mogul Aristotle Onassis, with the royal couple spending their honeymoon sailing it along the picturesque Italian coast – what a dream honeymoon!

Grace Kelly, 1955
Grace Kelly, 1955

Today, the M/Y Grace elegantly cruises around the pristine water of the Galapagos Islands, and you, too, could be sunbathing on its sleek wooden deck. The iconic boat has been completely refurbished with two master suites, two twin suites, five roomy and sun-filled staterooms, spacious deck areas, dining areas, reading salons and a shaded, open-air, fully-stocked bar and lounge. It even has a hot tub on the top deck – what’s more glamorous than that? A week aboard M/Y Grace will cost you a tidy $6,600.00, so if you’ve ever wanted to feel as glamorous as the princess herself, this super yacht is for you.

The M/Y Grace
The iconic M/Y Grace

Elizabeth Taylor

Not only did Elizabeth Taylor love to sail, but she looked damn good while doing it. She often frequented the famous Highlander, the super yacht owned by Malcolm Forbes. Forbes used this incredibly lavish yacht, complete with helipad and outdoor Jacuzzi, to host everyone from Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan to Robert de Niro, Harrison Ford and, of course, Miss Elizabeth Taylor. Now, holidaymakers who want to experience the celebrity lifestyle can charter the Highlander, complete with its six luxurious staterooms, but it will cost a whopping £127,000 per week.

Elizabeth Taylor, 1955 Celebrity Yacht Holidays
Elizabeth Taylor, 1955

Taylor’s husband, Richard Burton, purchased their Edwardian motor yacht, the Kalizma, for her in 1967. After renting the iconic boat, the couple bought it and had it completely refurbished. Nearly every week, the yacht was moored at one of the beautiful ports along the Mediterranean, and boarded by famous friends and guests who indulged in lavish meals as they sailed the stunning coastline together.

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, 1967
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, 1967

Lauren Bacall

We will always remember Lauren Bacall as one of Hollywood’s most glamorous actresses. With her cat-like eyes, bright red lips and sultry voice, Bacall commanded attention on the silver screen in the ’40s and ’50s. This glamour and elegance certainly transferred to her style on the sea. She paired this classic image with an ever-present elegance, and forced us notice her, even alongside her famous soon-to-be husband, Humphrey Bogart, in To Have and Have Not.

Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, 1944
Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart, 1944

Elke Sommer

German actress, Elke Sommer was first spotted while holidaying in Italy and quickly began her career starring in Italian films in the late 1950s. She became one of the most popular actresses of the ’60s and her image as a glamorous pin-up girl skyrocketed. After moving to Hollywood in the 1960s, it wasn’t long before she was starring in Playboy magazine and solidifying her iconic look on the silver screen. When living in Italy, she would spend her days sailing the Mediterranean in classic bikinis, posing for glamour magazines and painting her artwork on canvasses. If Sommer was still sailing today, we can imagine her – and her iconic sex bomb look – partying on a beach in Croatia or sipping on cocktails along the French Riviera. She really knew how to enjoy most amazing celebrity yacht holidays!

Elke Sommer, 1963
Elke Sommer, 1963

Sophia Loren

Declared ‘one of the world cinema’s treasures’, Sophia Loren, the Italian-French film star, radiates with an allure like no other. Following her five-picture contract with Paramount, she shot to stardom in the late 1950s and secured her image as a poster-girl for Mediterranean glamour. Owning homes in Naples and Rome, Loren is often sailing the coastline of Italy, and recently she was even asked to christen a shiny new mega-ship, the MSC Preziosa. Sweeping down the curved golden stairway of this mega-ship in a dazzling quayside ceremony, Loren fit right in. Her obvious radiance, mixed with the Swarovski crystal-covered deck, proved that, just like the ship, she emanates Italian style and possesses epic international appeal.

Sophia Loren, 1965
Sophia Loren, 1965

And one more for the guys (or the ladies?)…

John F. Kennedy

When former American President, John F. Kennedy needed a break from the chaos of the White House, he would escape with his family and set sail on the Potomac River in his ‘White House on the water’, his beloved yacht, the Honey Fitz. This iconic wooden vessel was built in 1931 and has served five American presidents, including Harry S. Truman, Lyndon B. Johnson, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, and, of course, JFK, whose wife, Jackie installed the boat’s very first colour television in the ’60s.

The Honey Fitz underwent a recent makeover, now holding 70-passengers and completing a charity fundraising tour around the U.S., but it’s also available for private hire, costing guests the tidy sum of just $5,000 for four hours.

Kennedy exudes glamour himself, often referred to as one of the most handsome and charming presidents of all time. Plus, he sure does look good on that yacht!

President John F. Kennedy with daughter Caroline on board the Honey Fitz, 1962 Celebrity Yacht Holidays of the '50s and '60s
President John F. Kennedy with wife, Jackie, 1953

The glamour of the celebrity yacht holidays is still prevalent today, on the beaches of the Greek Islands and in the bays of the Croatian coast. Sailing along the French Riviera or the Mediterranean Sea on a beautiful, sleek yacht (and with the style of Brigitte or Audrey) is not just a dream; it’s closer than you think. Chartering a boat isn’t only easy, it’s affordable. So now you can save some extra cash for that perfect outfit or classic bikini you’ve had your eye on for next summer. Plus, if you want to know what to pack to look like these bombshells of the sea, check out our ultimate packing checklist guide.

So, start planning now and you, too, can be on your way to setting sail along the glamour seas, just like these iconic celebrities.

Thanks to Blogspot, CNN, James Vaughan, Joe WolfConde Nast Traveller, Insomnia cured here, and Harpers Bazaar for the excellent images from Flickr. Please note all were under Creative Commons Licence at the time of publishing.

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