Royal Caribbean International () is a Norwegian / American cruise line company based in Miami, Florida. It is a brand of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., with 21 ships in service and two under construction. All the ships have names ending in "of the Seas." Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. also operates Celebrity Cruises, Pullmantur Cruises, Azamara Cruises and has a stake in Island Cruises.
Royal Caribbean innovated once again with its 1986 purchase of a coastal property in Haiti for use as a private destination for its guests. This destination is now called Labadee. After a corporate restructuring in 1988, the line launched , the largest passenger vessel afloat at the time. Two years later, Nordic Empress and Viking Serenade entered service for the line, continuing a rapid growth trend within the company. In the same year Royal Caribbean purchased its second private destination, Little Stirrup Cay, an island in the Bahamas, which they rechristened "Coco Cay". , the second ship of the Sovereign class, entered service the next year. The third ship of the Sovereign class, , was delivered one year later. With a large passenger capacity and a growing market share, Royal Caribbean finally went public on the New York Stock Exchange in 1993. Over the next two years the company experienced extreme growth. A new corporate headquarters in Miami, Florida was completed, and the Nordic Prince replaced by a new vessel, the .
The next year brought more growth. Two more Vision class vessels entered service, the and . Also in 1996, the company finalized its contracts for 130,000 ton vessels with Aker Finnyards in Finland. The trend of growth and change continued into 1997. The line's oldest ship, Song of Norway, was sold, and two new Vision-class ships entered service as and . The company also merged with the Greek cruise line Celebrity Cruises and changed its name from "Royal Caribbean Cruise Line" to "Royal Caribbean International". The next year marked a transition to a more "strictly modern line", when the last of the company's older vessels, Song of America and Sun Viking, were retired. In 1998, came into service, the last of the Vision Class Ships. In 2004, Royal Caribbean made history again with the massive refurbishment of Enchantment of the Seas, cutting the ship in half and adding a midsection. Grandeur of the Seas is rumored to be the next to have the massive refurbishment sometime in early 2008.
In 1999 the , the line's newest and world's largest cruise ship entered service with much attention from the news media. The next two years saw the delivery of Voyager's sister ship, , and the first of a new class of more environmentally friendly cruise liners, , as well as the introduction of Royal Caribbean's "cruise tours Alaska", featuring glass-domed train cars to scenic destinations within the state and Canada. The year 2000 saw the formation of a joint venture with British First Choice Holidays to form a joint venture for the informal British and Brazilian markets, Island Cruises. During Adventure of the Seas's christening ceremony in November 2001, Royal Caribbean made a $50,000 contribution to the Twin Towers Relief fund.
2002 saw the debut of the , as well as the , the second ship of the Radiance class. and were introduced the next year, and rock-climbing walls were made a feature of every Royal Caribbean ship. followed in 2004, and the line's ship Nordic Empress was refurbished and re-christened as Empress of the Seas. Construction commenced on , the line's newest ship, at Aker Finnyards in 2005 and the vessel launched the next year as the largest passenger vessel in the world. Freedom of the Seas' sister ship, , was launched in 2007, and was delivered in 2008. An even larger class, the Oasis Class, featuring the and will be launched in 2009 and 2010, guaranteeing Royal Caribbean the ship size lead for years to come.
In November 2006, Royal Caribbean finalized the purchase of Pullmantur Cruises in Madrid, Spain. Onwards from that point the company expanded radically with the creation of new cruise lines. Azamara Cruises was created in May 2007 as a subsdiary of Celebrity Cruises. In September 2007 Royal Caribbean unveiled plans for a new cruise line, Croisières de France, aimed at French-language customers. The new company will start operations in Spring 2008, initially with one ship, the Bleu de France, which currently sails for Pullmantur Cruises as the Holiday Dream. Just two months later Royal Caribbean announced plans for yet another new cruise line, this time aimed at a German-speaking audience in collaboration with TUI AG. This brand will be called TUI Cruises and begins operations in 2009 with one ship transferred from an existing Royal Caribbean brand, with two newbuildings following in 2011 and 2012. TUI and Royal Caribbean already collaborate in the British market, as TUI AG acquired the majority of First Choice Holidays in 2007, hence gaining control of 50 % of the Island Cruises brand.
Each Royal Caribbean ship includes a top-of-ship lounge called the Viking Crown Lounge offering sweeping panoramic views, onboard rock climbing walls, bars, lounges, spas, gyms, a main dining room and alternative dining venues. The line has a special kids and youth program known as Adventure Ocean. The line's first ship was the Song of Norway, now International Shipping Partners' Clipper Pearl. The current fleet consists of:
Aker Finnyards, Turku, Finland. A second Oasis-class ship was ordered on April 2, 2007, to be delivered in August 2010.
Royal Caribbean International, in conjunction with USA Today, sponsored a contest to name the vessels.
Freedom of the Seas left Aker Finnyards shipyard in Turku, Finland on April 24, 2006. With gross tonnage of 154,407 tons, they surpassed Cunard Line's Queen Mary 2 as the largest passenger ships in the world even though they are five meters shorter than the Queen Mary 2. Freedom of the Seas includes two new features: the Flowrider and the H2O Zone for kids. The Freedom of the Seas continues the traditions of the Voyager Class Ships with a mall named the Royal Promenade, featuring pubs, shops, arcades, bars, and a 24 hour Cafe Promenade.
Freedom Class and Cunard's Queen Mary 2, the Voyager class ships were built at Kvaerner Masa-Yard’s (now Aker Finnyards) facility in Turku, Finland. These ships include a indoor mall known as the Royal Promenade, featuring indoor pubs, shops, cafes, and bars. Activity options on board include: basketball courts, skating rinks, at least 3 pools, a mini-golf course, and a rock wall.
Technically speaking the Vision Class consists of three pairs of sister ships and is not a "class" of ships in the same sense as the Radiance, Freedom or Voyager classes. The Legend and Splendour, built at Chantiers de l'Atlantique, Saint-Nazaire, France have a gross tonnage of approximately 70,000 and are the only ones which have a golf course. The Grandeur and Enchantment were built at Kvaerner Masa-Yards, Helsinki, Finland and have a tonnage of approximately 81,000 gross tons. The final pair, Rhapsody and Vision were also built at Chantiers de l'Atlantique, and have a tonnage of 83,000 gross tons. All ships of this class feature over of glass.
In 2004, a midsection was added to the Enchantment of the Seas, allowing for the addition of a pool, suspension bridges, specialty restaurants, additional staterooms, and expanded areas for guest comfort.
In 2004, the Sovereign of the Seas went into drydock for an extensive refurbishment, this aired on TLC as "Drydock: A cruise ship reborn". The refurbishment of Monarch seas in 2005, and the Majesty of the Seas in 2007. New features include enhanced staterooms, public areas, Johnny Rockets, addition of rock walls, re-painted pool floors, new carpeting and more spaces enhanced for guest comfort. In October 2007 it was reported that the Sovereign of the Seas will transfer to the fleet of Pullmantur Cruises in late 2008.
Some security measures include:
On July 5, 2005, passengers on board the reported what appeared to be blood on a part of the ship below passenger balconies. After a search, George Allen Smith was discovered to be missing and thought to have fallen overboard. A criminal investigation into possible foul play was conducted, and a brief press release on the company's investor relations website announced the settlement of the case, later revealed to be more than $1 million.
In 1998 and 1999, the company was fined $9 million US dollars because one of its ships, the , had repeatedly dumped oily waste into the ocean and tried to hide this using false records, including fake piping diagrams given to the US Coast Guard. The company is incorporated in Liberia and Royal Caribbean unsuccessfully argued that this case was not in the jurisdiction of US courts.
In the 21st century, the company has taken significant initiatives to address environmental concerns with its fleet. In 2008, RCI created a new "Vice President of Environmental Stewardship" position, with Jamie Sweeting (formerly of Conservation International) hired to fill the role