Royal Caribbean founder Arne Wilhelmsen passes away

Royal Caribbean founder Arne Wilhelmsen passes away
Arne Wilhelmsen spent more than 30 years on RCL's board of directors (Image: Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd)

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCL) has paid tribute to Arne Wilhelmsen, one of the corporation’s founders who passed away at the age of 90 on 11 April 2020 in Palma, Spain.

Born on 15 June 1929 in Norway, Wilhelmsen earned his MBA at Harvard Business School and worked as a chartering assistant and a ship broker before joining his family’s maritime business – Anders Wilhelmsen & Co – in 1954. He helped to found RCL in 1968 and spent more than 30 years on the board of directors.

Together with the company’s first CEO, the late Edwin Stephan, Wilhelmsen helped RCL to become one of the first to build new ships uniquely designed for cruising in warm weather. He was also one of the first to see the potential for cruising to become the fastest growing segment in the vacation industry. RCL now sails 61 ships to all seven continents.

“At a time when the rest of the world thought cruising was a niche use for old transatlantic liners, Arne was already seeing glimmers of the growth that was possible,” said Richard Fain, RCL’s chairman and CEO. “He had a vision of the modern cruise industry when the ‘industry’ might have been a dozen used ships, total.”

Wilhelmsen stepped down from RCL’s board in 2003 and was succeeded by his son, Alex.

“Our high standards as a company, our insistence on excellence in operations and design, and our determination to persevere all owe a great deal to the long-term vision of Arne, Alex and the Wilhelmsen family,” said Fain. “We salute our friend, and we will miss him dearly.”

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Rebecca Gibson
By Rebecca Gibson
14 April 2020

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