Ivona Eve Jo, a former chief stewardess and the founder and CEO of the new yacht agency CYOR, loves her home country of Montenegro so much she decided to create a company that helps others fall in love with it too. “As the yachting industry is enormously developing at this destination, before all, my mission is to inspire vessels to add this pearl of the Adriatic to their itinerary and with my team enable them a smooth and stunning experience in Montenegro.”
“It’s not just the mountains and picture-perfect coastline that turns visitors into lifelong fans: some of Montenegro’s towns are well over 2,000 years old, it is home to two world heritage sites with five national parks, which makes Montenegro a truly unforgettable destination."
CYOR, which stands for Create Your Own Reality, was created in May 2020 in Tivat as a shore support yachting agency to inspire the yachting industry to discover and explore Montenegro and the rest of the Mediterranean in a unique and exclusive way. “As a former chief stewardess, after closing that chapter, I’ve got the urge to still stay a part of the industry in a different role,” she says.
CYOR supports captains, crew, owners, yacht management, and brokers with crew placement, itinerary planning, pre-arrival info, berth bookings, clearance formalities, and more. They offer free itinerary plans in order to be more accessible to their client base, as well as free consultation. “Our goal is not to be the biggest company in the branch, but to build a custom-oriented service known for [our] dedicated and unique approach towards our clients,” Jo says.
From Chief Stew to CEO and Founder
During her time as crew, notable aboard her most recent yacht M/Y Surina, Jo notes that she had the opportunity to explore many destinations along the coastlines around the world and meet wonderful people along the way. “I am grateful that I’ve been a part of such a fascinating industry and had the urge to still stay a part of it, so I came across the idea of CYOR as the yachting industry is enormously developing in Montenegro as my home country.”
The former chief stew adds that she’s actually considering getting back into the industry in the role of a purser on rotation or freelance gigs during the winter season in Montenegro.
While still being on board, Jo says she encountered different agencies offering services where she had the opportunity to see several shortcomings in their offering and approach. “This served as an inspiration to build CYOR as a top-of-the-line service provider.”
Calling Montenegro an undiscovered gem in the Med, the CEO says there are many reasons to go there, from “dark, magnificent mountains that flow into the sea and create 117 beaches along 293 kilometers of coastline: there are rocky ones, sandy ones, tiny hidden ones, and glorious cave spots.”
In addition to the three marinas with luxury resorts: Porto Montenegro, Portonovi, and Lustica Bay, Jo also recommends other smaller local unique ports on the frontline of the old towns Kotor and Budva (unique in its historical way), and the port of Bar. “Whether being a nature-lover, beach-lounger, or adrenaline addict, Montenegro is a destination that fulfills the highest of expectations,” she says.
“It’s not just the mountains and picture-perfect coastline that turns visitors into lifelong fans: some of Montenegro’s towns are well over 2,000 years old, it is home to two World Heritage Sites with five national parks, which makes Montenegro a truly unforgettable destination: the perfect blend of wild natural beauty, luxury and traditional, historical and adventure,” she says. “I truly believe that Montenegro is heading towards the world’s top yachting destinations, with the benefits of a low-price standards and tax-free bunkering offer.
“From the very beginning, we strive to incorporate into our services many years of experience accumulated not only in the yachting industry, but also in the hospitality and tourism sector, most notably in promoting unique spots along the coastline of Montenegro as licensed tour guide,” she says.
Right Place, Wrong Time
Having launched during the height of the pandemic, it’s no surprise that things didn’t go as planned. “Unfortunately, this season was quite slow for the agency. I am aware that every start-up has its process to be discovered on the market by the right target,” she says. “In light of ongoing COVID challenges, our main efforts are still focused on building up our initial set of services, as well as a stable client base.”
“I am grateful that I’ve been a part of such a fascinating industry and had the urge to still stay a part of it, so I came across the idea of CYOR as the yachting industry is enormously developing in Montenegro as my home country.”
Currently, they’re laying grounds for a project distributing necessary specialized produce still unavailable in Montenegro. “We hope to import the [produce] by the beginning of the coming summer season, depending on the current global situation with the virus,” Jo says. “Officially, there is nothing particularly new, besides the project of distributing specialized produces needed in the industry, that we are aware are not accessible on the Montenegrin market, as Ziploc bags, dehumidifier, beepers, etc.”
“The yachting industry introduce[d] me to the world,” she says. “Now it’s my turn to introduce the yachting industry to my world ... with the yacht-needs service that CYOR provides.”