Royal Caribbean International (RCI) has been at the forefront of the evolution of cruising and first achieved the title of the world’s largest cruise ship in 1987 when the 73,529gt Sovereign of the Seas (Sovereign Class) was launched. (Now Pullmantur’s Sovereign). The 137,276gt Voyager of the Seas (Voyager Class) took that title in 1999 with the “largest” of this quintet of ships, the Explorer of the Seas boasting a gross tonnage of 138,194gt due to differing facilities on board, including a laboratory area. The trio of Freedom Class ships claimed the title when the 154,407gt Freedom of the Seas was delivered in 2006 with the boundaries being pushed considerably further in 2009 when the 252,282gt Oasis of the Seas took to the water.
RCI can trace its roots back to 1968 when it was founded as Royal Caribbean Cruise Line by Norwegian shipping operators Anders Wilhelmsen & Company, I.M. Skaugen & Company and Gotaas Larsen. The new line debuted its first ship, the Song of Norway, two years later. The Nordic Prince joined the fleet in 1971 followed by the Sun Viking in 1972. Four years later passenger growth demanded more capacity so the Song of Norway became their first passenger ship to be lengthened. RCI has also placed itself at the cutting edge of cruise ship technology with new innovations to attract a new generation of cruisers. The wow factor is a top priority, so much so that WOW has become one of the company’s trademarks.
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