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The History of Royal Caribbean

By JoTuesday 23rd April 2013

Hello! Welcome to the Royal Caribbean blog. We're delighted to have you onboard and want to hear all about you and your travels. Firstly, let's get started by introducing you to who Royal Caribbean, where we’ve come from and what we do best.

Royal Caribbean History

Our story begins…

song of norway

…back in 1968 when founders Arne Wilhelmsen and Edwin Stephan were struck by the idea to take three successful Norwegian shipping companies and build a new cruise-liner business from scratch - Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines was born.

While the rest of the world watched events including the lunar landing and Woodstock festival, we were busy constructing our first ship, Song of Norway. It took its first passengers out to sea in 1970 and Royal Caribbean was officially launched.

The Song of Norway was one of the world’s first major cruise ships and stayed with us until 1997, when she was sold to Sun Cruises. After numerous name changes and different ownership, the once Song of Norway, now the Formosa Queen, is now operating as the first around-the-island cruise ship in Taiwan.

A period of growth 

As our business grew so did the size of our ships and ‘ship stretching’ began in 1978. This incredible task consists of cutting a ship in two and adding mid-sections to increase capacity. There have been a few ships involved in this operation, but the largest is our Enchantment of the seas.

Ship Stretching Enchantment of the Seas

Before the ship is sliced in two, the mid-section was designed and built in Finland. This mid-section was then floated to the Enchantment of the Seas location, which would have been an interesting sight for any passers-by.

With the mid-section added, the ship had an extra 151 staterooms, new splash deck, two suspension bridges and a flourish of shops and restaurants including a Boleros Latin Lounge and a Chops Grille Steakhouse.

It wasn’t only the ships that saw big changes. In 1988 Royal Caribbean merged with Admiral Cruises, marking a growth period as the company tripled in size. This paved the way for extra destinations and in 1990, we added trips to Mexico, Alaska and Europe so our cruises span from Europe to the Pacific.

Exclusives, celebrations and changes

We opened CocoCay in 1990, offering guests exclusive access to this dream island destination in the Bahamas. While there may be a wide selection of destinations to cruise to around the world, CocoCay is exclusive to us. It gives customers a chance to enjoy coral reefs, coconut palm groves and raft rides all in the knowledge that only a privileged few have experienced the same delights.

In 1992 we were listed on the New York Stock Exchange. And, like most big companies, this marked a new era for us. It wasn’t long after that we were celebrating again with our 25th birthday in 1995!

At the end of the 90’s we were ready to change our name to Royal Caribbean International (RCL) and merge with sister company Celebrity Cruises.

The early noughties saw a range of new sophisticated RCL ships take to the seas. Our Freedom of the Seas ship, one of the largest cruise ships in the world (that holds more than 3,600 guests!) set off on its first tour in 2006.

freedom of the seas

More to come

This is just a touch on the history of Royal Caribbean, look out for the next chapter coming soon. Are there any areas of our history you’d like to know about? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll try to incorporate this into our posts!

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