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The excursion boat Vida Mia is steeped in history. And luxury: Travel Weekly

If the Vida Mia could speak, what stories would she tell.

The sleek, 61-foot motor yacht was commissioned by architect Willard Campbell in Stockton, California in 1929. This year also marked the beginning of the Great Depression, but the Vida Mia exuded luxury from stern to bow.

Its hull was oak and Port Orford cedar; its interior, teak and mahogany; and its portholes, polished bronze. Furnishings were of the highest quality, including a porcelain clawfoot tub, tempered stained glass cabinets and a full set of serveware, right down to the cake plate, gravy boat and pickle bowl.

“They don’t build wooden boats like them anymore,” said Brynn Rovito, a former attorney who bought the Vida Mia in 2020 and is the ship’s 12th owner. “I am fortunate to have the same team that has taken good care of her for years. We make a point of teaching new crews the elements of boat building so that we can continue to maintain Vida Mia in the future. There are other great boats in Hawaii, but none have their long history.”

Guests head to the sea on a Vida Mia private charter.  The motor yacht was built in 1929 and served in World War II.

Guests head to the sea on a Vida Mia private charter. The motor yacht was built in 1929 and served in World War II. Credit: Asia Brynne

In March 1943, in the midst of World War II, the US government’s War Shipping Administration seized the Vida Mia, painted her military gray and gave her an official Coast Guard identification number, CG58006, which was engraved on the starboard side of the wheelhouse door. Equipped with a radar system, the ship patrolled the waters around the Golden Gate Bridge until the end of the war in 1945.

The Vida Mia also responded to calls from Hollywood, appearing in Final Countdown (1980) with A-list film stars Kirk Douglas and Martin Sheen and Snatched (2017) with Goldie Hawn and Amy Schumer. Most recently, he had a role on The White Lotus, the HBO series that won 10 Emmy Awards this year.

Live music is a popular part of the Vida Mia's sunset cruise. Dillon Pakele, pictured here, performs regularly.

Live music is a popular part of the Vida Mia’s sunset cruise. Dillon Pakele, pictured here, performs regularly. Photo credit: Keoni Ocalvey

Except for a period in the 1960’s and 1970’s when she was offering tours off Maui, the Vida Mia was used primarily by her owners and their friends and families for weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and “just-because-we-can” sailing . It is now moored at the small boat harbor Ala Wai near Waikiki for customers to enjoy.

“Our cruises along the Waikiki coast aren’t just about fabulous food and scenery,” said Rovito. “They inspire everyone, even strangers, to network, chat and hang out together. Whether you are 8 or 80 years old, you will feel happy and excited when you are on board. You hit the pause button on your life and enjoy being in the moment, seeing Oahu from a new perspective.”

Early risers might consider the daily Coffee Cruise, which offers gorgeous sunrise views and a buffet of egg bites, salmon and bagels, fresh local fruit, sweet and savory pastries, and freshly brewed Kona coffee. A second morning coffee cruise is added for whale watching November through March (10,000 to 12,000 humpback whales winter in Hawaii each year).

During the Sunset Cruise, offered Thursdays through Sundays, customers can watch the sun take its final bow while enjoying a seafood dinner of local fish ceviche with taro chips, shrimp cocktail, oyster shooters, blackened Hawaiian ahi, with crab-stuffed lobster tails and coconut enjoy panna cotta. A spectacular fireworks display is an additional attraction on Friday evening.

All Vida Mia cruises include dining, with the menu depending on the cruise.

All Vida Mia cruises include dining, with the menu depending on the cruise. Credit: Aloha Culinary Group/Keoni Ocalvey

Every area of ​​the pet-friendly boat can be explored – even the wheelhouse, where aspiring sailors can take the helm under the captain’s watchful eye.

Customers can purchase one of the public cruises or book a private charter, which gives them the flexibility to choose the menu, bring their own food, or hire a chef to oversee food service. Groups of up to 36 people can be accommodated.

Rovito is committed to being a responsible steward of the historic ship while offering select tours to help keep it afloat.

“Vida Mia was built for rest and relaxation,” she said. “Over the years she has rewarded so many people with wonderful memories – good times they will never forget. I want this to continue. I would like to invite guests from all over the world to come on board and learn about Vida Mia’s incredible story and have a great time.”

Vida Mia bookings pay travel agents 10% to 15% commission. Visit thevidamia.com for more information on booking a crossing.

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