Originally founded in Norway in 1968 as Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, after merging with Celebrity Cruises in 1997, it has since been known as Royal Caribbean International (RCI). In 1982, Royal Caribbean received widespread recognition with the launching of the Song of America, the world’s 3rd-largest passenger vessel afloat at the time, after the Norway and the Queen Elizabeth 2.
Beginning in 1987, with the delivery of the Sovereign of the Seas, all ships under the Royal Caribbean brand have since been given names ending with the phrase “of the Seas“. In 1990, the cruise line purchased a small island in the Bahamas named Little Stirrup Cay, which it then re-branded as CocoCay. A huge renovation of the island is due for completion by the end of 2019.
Currently based in Miami, Florida, RCI is now the largest cruise line in the world by revenue (14.0% of the global market) as well as the 2nd-largest by passenger volume (at 19.2%). It operates 26 ships, with 6 additional on order (as of July 2019), including seven of the nine largest cruise ships in the world. Four of these (Symphony of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, and Oasis of the Seas) are the largest in the world, while the other three (Quantum of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas, and Ovation of the Seas) round out the bottom of the list.
Ports of call visited:
Empress of the Seas (December 2007)
- San Juan, Puerto Rico (USA)
- Philipsburg, Sint Maarten (Netherlands)
- St. John’s, Antigua (Britain)
- Basseterre (Saint Kitts)
- Castries (Saint Lucia)
- Bridgetown (Barbados)
- Margarita Island (Venezuela)
- Willemstad, Curaçao (Netherlands)
- Oranjestad, Aruba (Netherlands)