MIAMI, Nov. 9, 2019: It is with a profound sense of sadness that we mark the passing of Edwin W. Stephan, the founder, long time-president, and vice chairman of the board of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, on Friday, November 8. He was 87. We at Royal Caribbean mourn his loss and extend our deepest sympathies to the Stephan family.
In 1969 Stephan founded the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, and his contributions helped create the modern cruise industry we know today. Under his leadership in 1970, the company launched Song of Norway, the first ship purpose-built for warm-water cruising. Since that initial voyage, Stephan’s fledgling company has grown into the world’s second largest cruise line, a multi-billion-dollar global company of six brands, operating 63 ships across seven continents.
During Stephan’s tenure, the company saw many industry firsts, including our wide, open-air decks, and it was Stephan’s idea for the round, cantilevered Viking Crown Lounge that made Royal ships stand out from the crowd. Royal Caribbean was also the first to stretch a major cruise ship by inserting an additional mid-section into Song of Norway in 1978.
“Ed was an inspiration and a great friend to many in the company. He was an honorable man who loved his family, his work, and his community,” said Richard D. Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “Our heartfelt condolences go out to Ed’s loving wife, Helen, and the children he adored, Michael, Samantha, Gary, and Kristina. He will be deeply missed by all of us here, by his many friends, and by our community.”