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A Cruise Through Royal Caribbean's History

By: Lucky Balaraman, Fri Apr 7th, 2006

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:

1971 Cruise ships NORDIC PRINCE and SUN VIKING arrive

1978 SONG OF NORWAY cut in half, 75-foot piece with 164 cabins introduced in between

1980 NORDIC PRINCE augmented the same way

1982 SONG OF AMERICA arrives with a larger, more luxurious lounge around the smokestack

1988 SOVEREIGN OF THE SEAS, the largest cruise ship ever built at 73,162 tons for 2,276 passengers, arrives at a cost of $150 million

1990 - NORDIC EMPRESS arrives - The Company expands beyond the Caribbean: Mexico, Alaska, and Europe are added as destinations; - Industry's first computerized booking system introduced

1991 - MONARCH OF THE SEAS arrives, ready for 2,354 passengers

1992 - MAJESTY OF THE SEAS delivered, equipped for 2,354 passengers

1993 - The Company goes public

1995 - LEGEND OF THE SEAS arrives, built for 1,804 passengers

1996 - GRANDEUR OF THE SEAS arrives at 74,000 tons and for 2,440 passengers - SPLENDOUR OF THE SEAS, in the same class as GRANDEUR, delivered

1997 - Name changed to Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited (RCCL) - RCCL buys Celebrity Cruises and its four working ships from Chandris Lines at a cost of $1.3 billion - RHAPSODY OF THE SEAS, at 79,000 tons and for 2,435 passengers, is delivered - ENCHANTMENT OF THE SEAS, at 74,000 tons and for 2,440 passengers, arrives

1998 - Enter VISION OF THE SEAS, 79,000 tons and to carry 2,435 passengers - Joint ownership agreement signed with Chicago's Pritzker family (that has $15 billion in assets) and Haifa's Ofer family (that owns one of the world's largest shipping companies, Ofer Brothers Shipping Co)

1999 - VOYAGER OF THE SEAS comes in at a whopping 140,000 tons for 3,114 guests

2000 - EXPLORER OF THE SEAS arrives; in the VOYAGER class, it has marine laboratories on board as well

2001 - ADVENTURE OF THE SEAS arrives: 3,114 passengers accommodated per cruise - RADIANCE OF THE SEAS delivered: 2,100 passenger capacity at 90,000 tons, with gas turbines, it is the first in it's class - The company buys 20% of UK tour operator First Choice and launches a joint venture cruise line. It offers land-based tours in Alaska through Royal Celebrity Tours.

2002 - BRILLIANCE OF THE SEAS, a vessel in the RADIANCE class, arrives and is ready for duty

2003 - SERENADE OF THE SEAS, the third RADIANCE class vessel, is delivered

2004 JEWEL OF THE SEAS, RADIANCE class, makes its debut

... and of course, more ships, even larger that the earlier ones, are on order!

* Conclusion *

With revenues in excess of $4 billion, RCCL is a juggernaut which will not slow down.

Its ships are floating cities, boast amenities such as rock climbing walls, miniature golf courses, swimming pools, ice skating rinks, sun decks, basketball courts, beauty salons, exercise and spa facilities, gaming facilities, lounges, bars, cabaret performances, cinemas, shopping arcades, multiple restaurants and casinos.

Most importantly, when on a cruise, one experiences some priceless bonuses: unpolluted air and a virtually noise-free environment. These are truly, in the modern context, balm for the soul.

If you can afford the entirely reasonable average fare of $400 per person for a 3-night cruise in a luxury stateroom... don't think twice about it, sign up for a cruise and gain the experience of a lifetime!

About the author: Lucky Balaraman has a Master's degree from a prestigious US university and writes on several subjects. To learn more about Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, please visit the website




Trip Advisor Reviews

-- Traveler Reviews & Opinions

(Click to see review that you are interested..)


Review of Moby Dick Tours,

Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, Caribbean

 Great Sting Ray Experience
... excellent alternative to what the Cruise ship offers! Based ... early tender boat from the ship

(another reviewer complained about the lack of this info) and even knew info about my specific ship ...


Review of Captain Oliver's Resort Hotel,

St. Maarten/St. Martin, Caribbean

 What a Way to Start the New Year
... been staying there almost every Christmas/New Year ... island away from all the cruse ship tourists.

 The rooms are spacious and clean with a veranda to sit and relax watching the sailboats ...


Review of Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort,

Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, Carribbean

 Terrific place for savvy Marriott travelers
... have found anywhere in the Caribbean and in ... the two deep reported around Christmas 2005.

You ... you will also avoid the cruse ship excursions. A neat surprise is that next door to ...


Review of Long Bay Hotel,

Antigua, Antigua, Antigua and Barbuda, Carribbean

 Shabby Chic
... 10 days I spent over Christmas at Long ... of heaven. If you're the cruse ship type, there a great

 mega resort next door- you'll be happier there- This beach is for serious ...


Review of Anse Chastanet,

Soufrière, St. Lucia, Caribbean

 Wonderful relaxing Christmas
... decided to go away for Christmas this year ... resort to be busy over Christmas and even ...

the rare occasion that a cruse ship group visited and those visits were brief. The loungers ...


Review of Howard Johnson Hotel - San Juan,

San Juan, Puerto Rico, Carribbean

 Small cozy hotel is near everything
... Isla Verde the week or Christmas. Although our ... can just sit by the cruse ship port &

sip on a cup of spanish coffee while taking in the gorgeous sunset. Loved loved loved ...


Review of Port Lucaya Resort & Yacht Club,

Freeport, Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas, Carabbian

 Great Place to stay
... hotel was nicely decorated for Christmas/Boxing Day ... the island via the Discovery cruise,

which was ... she is an older smaller cruse ship that rocks a bit as she crosses the gulf ...


Review of Watergate Villas,

Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Carribbean

 Watergate Villas have the comfort of home with the view
After visiting the Caribbean for the first time on a cruise over Christmas, 2004, my husband

and I fell in love with Carribbean beaches, weather and music. So we decided to have ...


Review of Radisson Cable Beach & Golf Resort,

Nassau, New Providence Island, Bahamas, Caribbean

 Good hotel, not sure about Nassau
... taken up with a huge cruise-ship port so ... and good views of the cruse ships coming ...

happen to be there over Christmas. If you go here you must do at least ...


Review of British Colonial Hilton Nassau,

Nassau, New Providence Island, Bahamas, Carribbean

 Favorite Christmas Getaway
... to the British Colonial during Christmas. I traveled ... additonal person. We arrived on Christmas day.

 We ... hotel with regards to the cruse ships. I ... and watch a million-ton cruse ship do ...


Review of Bermuda, Caribbean

 Bermuda Overview
... returned from a 7 day cruise to Bermuda. ... minute uphill walk from the ship. The streets ...

in the afternoon from the ship, thus took ... minute walk back to the ship. Wouldn't recommend ...


Review of Carambola Villas Golf And Beach Resort,

St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, Carribbean

 Perfect for travelers looking for a quiet vacation
... weeks we stayed (right before Christmas) were very ... in Fredricksted

(go there on cruse ship days to see the town come alive.) If you are there on a Friday, go to the ...


Review of Holland House Beach Hotel,

Philipsburg, St. Maarten/St. Martin, Carabbian

 Reality Check
... the bay where all the cruse ships dock ... of clarity is from the cruise ship/people pollution ...

also gets awfully CROWDED on cruse ship days with cruise ship people and local vendors. ...


Review of Castries Market,

Castries, St. Lucia, Caribbean

 Strolling through the market place
... season. We were on a cruise and had ... a water taxi from the ship to town ...

Locals were out finishing there Christmas Shopping and a visit to the local furniture store was ...


Review of Girasol Condo Hotel,

Cancun, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

 Great unit, great beach, great vacation
... in Penthouse unit #4 over Christmas break and ... the beachcombers, and the occasional

cruse ship pass by. Our kids didn't use the pool much, as they were mostly on the beach. The ...


Review of The Dive Inn,

Kralendijk, Bonaire, Caribbean

 Spare but convenient
... here for a week at Christmas 2004. Chosen ... waterfront street, by the southern cruise

ship pier, quite ... lot of snorkellers off the cruise ships, so they go there because there is a ...


Review of Hotel Mont Vernon,

St. Maarten/St. Martin, Carribbean

 Be prepared to do it yourself
... rooms. It was decorated for Christmas with some ... buildings- each named after a Carbbean island. We ... a feeding on a budget cruse ship (complete with cabaret-type entertainment provided by the...


Review of Coconut Palms Inn,

Rincon, Puerto Rico, Carribbean

 Wonderful Find for the Independent Traveler
... Palms and stayed there over Christmas, 2004. We were so delighted to find holiday decorations

and a Christmas Tree just ... romantic beach place, not a cruise ship on land. Vacation is what ...


Review of Rooms on the Beach Ocho Rios by Superclubs,

Ocho Rios, Jamaica, Caribbean

 Great location in Ocho Rios
... clear ocean view (of moored cruse ships mostly ... service. went there twice including Christmas

 dinner. Never ... to try it due to Christmas. Didn't care ... of the beach on the cruse ship pier. ...


Review of Sapphire Beach Resort,

East End, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Caribbean

 A nice place to relax, but not to be pampered
Spent the week before Christmas in a Harbor ... first aid kit item.) 2) Cruise

ship visitors flood the beach - about 3 cruse ships a day dock at Charlotte Amalie in winter and ...


Review of Grand Royal Antiguan Resort,

St. John's, Antigua, Antigua and Barbuda, Carribbean

 Great beach
Stayed for 2 weeks at Christmas 2003 and ... and you could watch the cruse ships coming ...

but too geared up for cruse ship passengers, Neslon's Dockyard is fascinating and worth a visit ...


Review of Nassau Beach Hotel,

Nassau, New Providence Island, Bahamas, Caribbean

 Seperating FACT from OPINION
... Coast, East Coast, New England, Carribean, Mexico, France ... late at night and the christmas lights

 wrapped ... fun because of all the cruise ship passengers. Be careful downtown we were told crime..


Review of Westin St. John Resort & Villas,

St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, Carribbean

 Westin a disappointment for well travelled people
... experience someplace relaxing. Over the Christmas holidays, we ... hotel or resort in the Carbbean

 would choose ... Westin is a 15-minute cruise from U.S. ... disturbed them. We wanted to ship a box ...


Review of Turtle Nest Inn,

Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, Caribbean

 Forgot what day it was
... secluded quiet spot in the Carribbean to decompress ... booked a room soon after Christmas (for a ... were at least 5 huge cruse ships that ... Fortunately, the buses filled with cruise-ship passengers ...


Review of Escape At The Gap,

Barbados, Carribbean

 Escape At The Gap
... days at Escape just before Christmas and was ... are very disappointing considering the 'cruise

ship' market. I expected it to be a bit more 'americanised'.This hotel provided a good deal.. nice food ...


Review of Divi Little Bay Beach Resort and Casino,

Philipsburg, St. Maarten/St. Martin, Caribbean

 Excellent Value for Money
... less good - twice a week cruse ship people come ... Reggae Cafe on way to cruise ship terminal

 from Philipsburgh. Delicious fresh wraps in good atmosphere and lots of space for kids - Christmas ...


Review of Brisas del Caribe,

Varadero Beach, Cuba, Carribbean

 What a terrific holiday
... However, we saw a special Christmas show held ... were limited in number (sunset cruise

is only ... driver point, my son jumped ship and drove with one of the other guides. The second ...




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