There are likely only two reasons you’d ever be aware of Tivat, Montenegro:
1. You are landing at the Tivat airport on your way to either of the better-known resort towns of Kotor or Budva.
2. You are a stinking-rich Russian oil tycoon with a giant yacht and you want to park it somewhere convenient.
Top: Anchor art in Tivat, Montenegro; Bottom: Water feature in Porto Montenegro
Tivat (TEA-vat) is a small Aegean coastal village situated on the outer part of the Bay of Kotor. If you look at a map, you’ll see that the Bay of Kotor is distinctly bow tie shaped, with Kotor being on a corner of the tie. Tivat is on the knot of the tie, protected from the open Aegean by a rugged, mountainous peninsula and surrounded by the sharp mountains that define the entire bay area. This unique geography creates a perfect natural shelter for boats, and since Tivat is closer to the sea than Kotor it’s more convenient for those stinking-rich Russian oil tycoons to park their two-hundred foot dinghy’s.
Tivat has been an ideal spot for a harbor for as long as men from around here have been taking to the sea. Archaeological evidence and ancient records from nearby Kotor indicate the value of this spot for seafarers from Roman times. The Venetian navy claimed this spot, as did the Yugoslavian navy. The Yugoslavs, in fact, operated it as a major repair port for their own, Russian, and Libyan ships and submarines.
After the “stupid wars” of the 1990’s, the Yugoslavian Navy evaporated and a Canadian investor stepped in (really) and created Porto Montenegro, a 100’s million-dollar yacht-condo-shopping resort along Tivat’s harbor. The only remnants of that military past are a maritime museum with an old Soviet-era submarine open for tours (oh yeah, count us in) and a giant red-and-white striped cargo crane looming over the mega yachts, now bathed in colored lights every night for a little bit of eastern-block-turned-capitalist ambiance.
One of those mega yachts is the Golden Odyssey, one of the largest in the world (so said the driver we hired to bring us here from Dubrovnik). “Mega yacht” doesn’t adequately describe it. It’s more of a “super yacht”. Or perhaps a “mega super yacht”. It tops out over 400 feet long. She’s more like a small cruise ship. I’ve developed a new pastime in Googling the names and registrations of these giant yachts to discover just who owns them.
The Golden Odyssey is unsurprisingly owned by Saudi Prince Khaled bin Sultan bin Abdul Azziz1. Prince Khaled founded the Saudi Air Defense Force, served as its first commander, was commander of the joint Arab forces in the first Persian Gulf War, and has served as an assistant Saudi defense minister. He’s a long time friend of the United States, and in fact attended the US Army’s Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and went on to earn a Master’s in Political Science from Auburn University.
Top: The Golden Odyssey (longest one in the background) with her 2 support ships; Middle: Golden Odyssey from stern to bow; Bottom: Golden Odyssey decked out in red and green lights for Christmas
That he attended Auburn is enough to make him a sworn enemy to many of my Bama-loving relatives. I, for one, am full of forgiveness, especially for someone who owns such a splendid boat, who—if he’s reading this—will be greatly appreciated should he ever invite this travel blogging couple onto said splendid boat.
Another fun pastime for me regarding these yachts is admiring the creative names their owners have come up with. Names like Galactica, 4You, Trident, Artpolars, and the sexy Russian women’s names like Tatiana and Svetlana II.
Finally, ogling over all these yachts has made me want to buy a boat of my own. Here’s the one we’re considering, which I will probably name Titanic II:
1 – Prince Khalid actually puts Golden Odyssey and her support ships to good use. He founded the Living Oceans Foundation, a non profit organization based in Annapolis, Maryland, dedicated “to help preserve, protect and restore the world’s oceans and aquatic resources through research, education, and outreach”. We might just volunteer for a research trip.