Royal Caribbean Co-Founder Arne Wilhelmsen Dies

Arne Wilhelmsen, one of the founders of Royal Caribbean Cruises, died on Saturday.

He was 90.

Royal Caribbean confirmed his death in a statement, saying Wilhelmsen passed away in Palma, Spain. The cruise line did not give a cause of death.

Wilhelmsen was a member of Royal Caribbean’s board of directors for more than 30 years,

“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,” Royal Caribbean Chief Executive Officer Richard Fain said in a statement. “He had a vision of the modern cruise industry when the ‘industry’ might have been a dozen used ships, total.”

Wilhelmsen earned his MBA at Harvard Business School and worked as a chartering assistant for Norway’s EB Lund & Co. and later as a shipbroker in New York, according to Bloomberg News and Royal Caribbean. He joined his family business – Anders Wilhelmsen & Co AS – in 1954, before becoming its president in 1961.

He helped found Royal Caribbean International in 1968.

The company now boasts 61 ships calling on all seven continents.

“Arne was a steady presence and source of wisdom on our board for decades,” Fain said. “And in 2003, when he was ready to step back, he was succeeded on the RCL board by his son, Alex, who has carried the involvement of the Wilhelmsen family in charting our company’s course into its sixth decade. 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. We salute our friend, and we will miss him dearly.”

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