The cruise ships of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. sail in Antarctica, Alaska, Bermuda, Caribbean, California, Europe, Hawaii, Galapagos Islands, Panama Canal, Mexican Riviera, Australia, New Zealand and South America.
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Beginnings
During the time Royal Caribbean Cruises was founded in 1969, cruises were a transatlantic voyage or a trip around the world, and for the very wealthy. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. was formed in 1997 when it purchased Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and Celebrity Cruises.
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Ships and Program Introductions Timeline
In 1970, Cruise Line International Association or CLIA estimated that half a million guests took a three-night or more cruise. Royal Caribbean Cruise Line began with three Norwegian shipping companies: Anders Wilhelmsen & Company, I.M. Skauge & Company and Gotaas Larsen. The first ship, Song of Norway, went into service in 1970, followed by Nordic Prince, in 1971 and Sun Viking in 1972. The 700-passenger Song of Norway introduced glass-walled dining rooms and the Viking Crown Lounge projecting out from the ship’s funnel, one of Royal Caribbean’s signatures. These three ships offered seven- and 14-night vacation cruises from Miami to the Caribbean.
In 1980, Nordic Prince was stretched. It was cut in half and 85 feet was added to the ship’s mid-section, extending guest capacity from 700 to 1,000. Song of America was added to the fleet in 1982. Anders Wilhelmsen & Company fully owns Royal Caribbean and enters into a joint agreement with the Pritzer family, owner of Hyatt hotels, and the Ofer shipping family. That same year Royal Caribbean triples in size. The 2,350 passenger Sovereign of the Seas enters service in 1988. Sun Viking begins service to Russia, Scandinavia and Europe. The same year, Nordic Empress enters service for 1,600 guests.
In 1990, Royal Caribbean’s private island, CocoCay in The Bahamas, opens. The first real-time reservation system, CruiseMatch 2000, is introduced to 29,000 travel agents in 1991. That same year Monarch of the Seas begins its Southern Caribbean itinerary and the 1,500-passenger Viking Serenade begins its West Coast sailings. In 1992, Royal Caribbean sells two ships and becomes the only cruise line with three, 70,000-ton ships. It is the first cruise line offering year round trips to the Caribbean. It also introduced its “Save the Waves” program with a goal of preserving the environment. Royal Caribbean adopted a non-dumping overboard policy. Its fleet recycled 20,000 aluminum cans a week and purchased 1 million pounds of recycled products a year.
Royal Caribbean goes public on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol, “RCL” in 1993. Royal Caribbean builds its second office building in the Port of Miami (1994). Royal Caribbean’s positions itself as a cruise that “lets you have a cruise your way.” Passengers could have a vacation with a trip to the spa, a day on the white sandy beaches, or a jog around the ship. At this time, Royal Caribbean starting offering children’s activities.
Royal Caribbean expands its fleet with six new Vision-class ships for a total of approximately $1.5 billion. These ships have a seven-deck atrium, glass walls and elevators, and skylights. Over two acres of glass are used in the design. Vision-class ships have a pool and entertainment complex with a movable glass roof, two-story dining rooms and a shopping mall.
In 1995, Royal Caribbean celebrates its 25th anniversary and Sun Viking starts sailing in the Far East. Nordic Prince is sold to a British tour company. The 1,800-passenger Legend of the Seas begins sailings in Alaska. In 1996, the 1,800-passenger Splendor of the Seas begins cruising in Europe and Grandeur of the Seas begins seven-night cruises. This year, Royal Caribbean’s total market share increases by 27 percent or the 4.7 million North Americans that cruised in 1996.
A very busy year was 1997. Celebrity Cruises merges with Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Royal Caribbean Cruise Line is renamed to Royal Caribbean International to reflect its global itineraries. Song of Norway is sold to the same British tour company as Nordic Prince. Nordic Empress begins Bahamas cruises and moves to Port Canaveral. Rhapsody of the Seas begins service in Alaska and Enchantment of the Seas begins service to Europe.
In 1998, Royal Caribbean sells Sun Viking and Song of America. Vision of the Seas begins service in Europe. Vision of the Seas begins sailing in Europe. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. two 2,100-guest ships and a 142,000-ton Voyager class ship. The following year Voyager of the Seas, a 3,114-guest ship, enters service. Royal Caribbean announces its 1999 program, Royal Journeys, with its itineraries visiting 41 ports in 14 countries. That same year Royal Caribbean equipping its Voyager-class ships with Azipod propulsion systems. This system eliminates the necessity of propeller shafts, stern thrusters and rudders.
Stay tuned for “About Cruise Lines Series, History of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. from 2000 to Present, Part II.”
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd: Investor Relations
Funding Universe: Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Company History