A Cruise Through Royal Caribbean’s History

Ever heard of a luxury hotel that moves every half hour?You guessed it: it’s a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, a mass of one hundred thousand tons, that glides on the ocean between Florida and the islands of the Caribbean on a regular basis.

Royal Caribbean International is the second largest cruise ship operator in the world with revenues in excess of $4 billion. It owns 28 ships with more than 65,000 berths on them and is growing. Here’s their story.

Flash back to 1969. An idea suddenly struck Arne Wilhelmsen and Edwin Stephan (Arne was a Harvard-educated investor and Edwin a famous Floridian businessman). The idea was that there was a large community of extremely wealthy Americans in Florida, and that this community would put down top dollar for a short, relaxing luxury cruise to the nearby Caribbean.

Arne and Edwin marketed this brainwave to some of the shipping magnates in Norway who readily bought it and came up with large investments. After a short gestation period, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (and an entire new industry) was born.

By the next year (1970), the infant company could speak of it’s first possession: The SONG OF NORWAY, a splendid cruise ship, weighing 18,500 tons and equipped for 700 passengers, custom-built in Finland. The most stunning feature of it was a cocktail lounge cantilevered around the smokestack (Edwin Stephen got the idea from the Seattle Space Needle). This lounge was built into many of the Line’s later ships and became the hallmark of the Company’s fleet.

Growth, Growth and More Growth

The founders of the Company pursued their vision of achieving market dominance through a continual program of adding ships and services. A consolidated record of this, which is very difficult to find elsewhere in the media, is presented below: