Costa Navarino was the long-standing dream of an early and ardent environmentalist and a stalwart supporter of his native land.
Having grown up in Messinia, Vassilis C. Constantakopoulos became a seaman, gradually working his way up to master. Following a 21-year career at sea, in 1974 he bought a small old vessel and established Costamare Shipping Company S.A.. The fledgling shipping firm quickly expanded and is now one of the largest owners/operators of container ships in the world.
Captain Vassilis' vision had always been focused on preserving, promoting and giving back to the land of his birth. He was an environmental activist long before it became a popular trend. He had already become involved in the environmental movement by the early '80s. In 1985 he became a member of the Hellenic Marine Environment Protection Association (HELMEPA), a joint initiative of Greek seafarers and ship owners, and later a founding member HELMEPA Junior, chairing both organizations.
The Captain began acquiring land in Messinia in 1982. He singled out four areas that he wanted to develop and started buying these expanses - one parcel at a time - always paying substantially more than the going price.
His vision for Costa Navarino involved a bold and forward-looking development of high-end sustainable accommodations and facilities that would allow guests from all over the world to explore the natural beauty, history and traditions of his native Messinia, while at the same time creating jobs that would enable Messinians to stay in their homeland or even return.
Captain Vassilis was happily married with his wife Carmen since 1964. They had together 3 sons and 6 grandchildren.
For the last 15 years the task of bringing the Costa Navarino dream to fruition was handed to his son Achilles, with the Captain having remained the driving force behind him.
In 2000, Captain Vassilis founded the Center for Hellenic Studies of Peking University in China along with his wife and they had been financing its operation.
On Tuesday 25th of January 2011, Captain Vassilis passed away. He left peacefully, having fulfilled his dreams and vision both for land and sea, with his heart and mind to the Greek shipping family, the company's seamen and his beloved homeland, Messinia.