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Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line was formed in 1967 by two Norwegian shipowners, Sigurd Skaugen and Anders Wilhelmsen after the ideas of a well known Miami shipbroker named Edward Stephan. Two ships were ordered, and eventually, a thirth shipowning company, Gotaas-Larsen (also Norwegian) entered the business and a thirth ship was able to taken as an option. Sadly, the same year Anders Wilhelmsen died and his son Arne Wilhelmsen entered the company in his place. Where the money came from the three parties, the general ideas were those of Stephan. He wanted the ships to be easily recognizable and he suggested that something based on the Seattle Space Needle should be built on top of the ships. This proved to be too costly, and because the designers also found the funnel the most ugly part of a ship in general, the proposal was made to wrap a lounge around it. With Norwegian tradition in mind, it was called the Viking Crown Lounge.

The three ships that were built were all financially backed by one of the three shareholders, who also gave the ships names they liked so there was nothing like a general naming-plan. The Song of Norway (Skaugen) was delivered first in 1970, the Nordic Prince (Wilhelmsen) followed in 1971 and the last one became Sun Viking (Gotaas-Larsen). RCCL instantly became the premier cruise line sailing out of Miami, leaving competition far behind. But not all was well, because the first problems between the shareholders and Stephan arose about how to run the company. It was not untill the 1990's that these problems were solved and the company became a true cruiseline based on firm ideas.

New ships were added to the fleet of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line in the 1980's, still with the great problems between the shareholders, something that also often delayed the newbuilding process. In 1987, Carnival Cruise Lines tried to take over the business and they were backed by this by Gotaas-Larsen, one of the shareholders of RCCL, who were eager to sell its share in the company for 260 million dollars. But because all three shareholders had to sell and agree before a sale could be made, a dispute arose. Skaugen needed the money for their survival and agreed, but Wilhelmsen didn't. In one week, they had to arrange the money to buy out the others and stop the Carnival bid and somehow they succeeded. So after a lot of problems between the shareholders and Carnival, RCCL stayed an independent company and Carnival took over Holland America Line instead three weeks after the deal collapsed. Since that time, Carnival and RCCL are knowing to be real competitors and no friends what so ever. But at least RCCL understood they had to become a true company and with French financial backing for the luring company they started to become one finally.

Below, the line's trademark, the Viking Crown Lounge, is pictured. This one is from Legend Of The Seas. The lounge, wrapped around the funnel of most ships of the line, was added because the designers found the funnel the most ugly part of a ship so something had to be done to make it nicer. An idea from Edward Stephan was to make it look like something as the 'Space Needle' in Seattle.

Three new giant ships were ordered and they became known as the Sovereign-class. These were the first cruiseships in the world to exceed Norway in tonnage and thus they were the biggest cruiseships in the world. They also started a naming-tradition still used now, with all ships names ending 'Of the Seas'. Also, Castles of the Seas is based on their namingtradition.

All early Royal Caribbean ships which names ended on 'Of The Seas' were built on the Chantiers de L' atlantique-wharf in St.-Nazaire, France. This was due to the French financial backing. This illustrious row started with the Sovereign-class in 1987 when Sovereign Of The Seas floated out. At that moment, she was the biggest passengerliner of the world with 73.192 tons. She surpassed Norway, then on cruiseservice for seven years, by more then 3.000 tons. Two more Sovereign-class ships were built, Monarch Of The Seas in 1990 and Majesty Of The Seas in 1991. These ships were meant for the growing Caribbean market, as stated in the name of the company also. Since their debut, they kept sailing in this region.

Besides these three giants, Royal Caribbean transferred the Future Seas of Admiral Cruises ( that was part of the RCCL-group) to Royal Caribbean itself and renamed her Nordic Empress in 1990. The Admiral Cruises brand was discontinued because RCCL had to restructure their financial position, that was very bad at that moment. It was somewhat strange that this ship was not immidiately given an 'Of The Seas' name also. The ship was renamed though, but just in 2004 when she became Empress Of The Seas. With these new ships sailing the Caribbean, RCCl started sending out their older ships to different parts of the world like the Mediterranean and northern Europe.

 
Royal Caribbean started out to built up their fleet and mostly, these ships broke the records of the largest passengerships ever built. This started with the very large Eagle Class, where the Voyager Of The Seas was the leading ship. This class of five measured around 137.000 tons, dwarfing the Grand Class that was just introduced by Princess Cruises. Next up, the colossal Freedom Class was built, headed by the Freedom Of The Seas who'se tonnage measurement was 155.000. Three ships were built in this class. But they were not done, when they introduced the Oasis-class of four ships, starting with the monstrous Oasis Of The Seas of 225.000 tons. It is very likely that this class will stay the largest class of passengerships for a long while to come.
 
Next to the building of the own fleet, like Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean expanded their operations through aquisitions of other lines. In 1997, they made a huge jump when they bought Celebrity Cruises, the cruise-division of Chandris Cruises. They quickly build up the fleet of this line, making it one of the most modern fleets in the cruise-industry. After the aquisition, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines became the mothercompany and Royal Caribbean International became the new name for the original cruiseline. Under the Celebrity Cruises brand, two sub-brands were started up, Celebrity Xpeditions and Azamara Cruises. Also, RCCL entered the Spanish market through Pullmantur Cruises, in which they placed older tonnage from the main fleet from 2007 onwards. Royal Caribbean sold 51 percent of this company to the Madrid-based investor Springwater Capital in may of 2016. In 2003, RCCL tried to merge with P&O Princess Cruises, but this became a failure and Carnival stepped in and took over this business instead. This long and complicated story is too extended to tell here.
 
Royal Caribbean also started up a company catering for the French market under the name of Crocieres de France in 2007, sailing European cruises in European summer and during the other months the company is seen in the French Caribbean. This company was sold for 51 percent to the Madrid-based investor Springwater Capital, together with Pullmantur. 
 
A few ships that have sailed for Royal Caribbean are placed elsewhere on the site 
 
Nordic Empress (1990-2004) is placed under Pullmantur Cruises as Empress
 
Monarch Of The Seas (1991-2013) is under Pullmantur as Monarch
 
Empress Of The Seas (2004-2008) is placed under Pullmantur Cruises as Empress
 
Empress Of The Seas (2016-) is placed as Empress under Pullmantur Cruises
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