Royal Caribbean – From One Cruise Ship to Global Stars


Today, Royal Caribbean International is one of the biggest names in contemporary cruising. The line boasts a fleet of 22 vessels, including Quantum of the Seas, the world’s first next generation smartship. But how did this global cruise line become one of the biggest names in the business?

Read on for a brief overview of Royal Caribbean’s fascinating history…

1968 – In the late sixties three Norwegian shipping companies shared a dream of establishing a passenger oriented cruise line – Anders Wilhelmsen & Company, I.M. Skauge and Gotaas Larsen. The line was officially christened Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.

1970 – Two years later the ambitious trio launched the company’s very first purpose built cruise ship, Song of Norway.

1971 – Just one year later Royal Caribbean Cruise Line doubled its at sea presence when it launched the Nordic Prince.

1978 – Royal Caribbean had built itself a reputation for innovation and in 1978 it lived up to this standing by ‘stretching’ Song of Norway. This essentially involved slicing it in two, adding an additional 85 foot mid-section and increasing guest capacity from 700 to just over 1000.

1982 – This year saw Royal Caribbean welcome its third fleet member, Song of America.

1986 – The mid 80s were an incredibly exciting time for Royal Caribbean and saw the line secure exclusive access to Labadee, its very own private island located off the north coast of Hispaniola.


1988 – In 1988 Royal Caribbean Cruise Line merged with Admiral Cruises and saw Anders Wilhelmsen & Company gain full ownership of the enterprise.

1990 – The 90s marked a huge milestone for Royal Caribbean when Sun Viking started scheduling itineraries to Europe, Scandinavia and Russia.

1993 – Under the guidance of Anders Wilhelmsen & Company Royal Caribbean Cruise Line went public and started trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

1995 – Royal Caribbean celebrates 25 years in business!

1997 – Two years later company executives decided to change the line’s name to Royal Caribbean International. This has stuck to this day.

1999 – Royal Caribbean enjoyed masses of media attention this year thanks to the launch of Voyager of the Seas, the line’s first Voyager class vessel.

Voyager of the Seas

2000 – The millennium marked the launch of Royal Caribbean’s second Voyager class ship, the ultra-modern Explorer of the Seas.

2001 – In 2001 Royal Caribbean showed no signs of slowing down and christened its very first Radiance class ship, Radiance of the Seas. It was also the first Royal Caribbean fleet member to feature gas turbines.

2005 – After launching a series of Radiance class vessels 2005 saw Royal Caribbean commence construction on Freedom of the Seas. At the time, the debut Freedom class vessel boasted status as the largest cruise ship on the planet.

2009 – 2009 saw Royal Caribbean continue to wow the cruise industry with the launch of Oasis of the Seas, a luxury Oasis class vessel.

2013 – In February the line unveiled plans for two cutting edge Quantum class ships – Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas

2014 – On November 2 Quantum of the Seas embarked on its maiden voyage. The next generation smartship blew cruise critics away with its plethora of futuristic features!

Quantum of the Seas

Royal Caribbean has made tremendous progress since 1968 and we can’t wait to see what the forward thinking cruise line has in store for 2015! If you want to experience the line’s exceptional service and state-of-the-art vessels for yourself head over to Cruise 1st for some fantastic deals on Royal Caribbean voyages.

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Images via Royal Caribbean Press Center


About Author

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Claire has worked in the travel industry since leaving college in 1994. One of this blog's most regular contributors, Claire covers cruise news and industry trends.

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