obituary Arne Wilhelmsen co founder Royal Caribbean

Arne Wilhelmsen, among the co-founders of the company known today as Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCCL), died April 11 in Palma, Spain. He was 90.

Born June 15, 1929, in Oslo, Norway, Wilhelmsen earned his master’s degree from Harvard Business School and joined his family’s shipping business in 1954, becoming its president in 1961.

In 1968, Miami hotelier Edwin Stephan enlisted Wilhelmsen’s shipping company and two other Norwegian shipping companies, I.M. Skaugen & Co., and Gotaas-Larsen, to invest in a new venture, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.

In a statement, RCCL hailed Wilhelmsen as “a visionary strategist of the modern cruise industry.”

“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,” said Richard Fain, RCCL chairman and CEO.

Fain said Wilhelmsen was “a steady presence and source of wisdom” on the company’s board, on which he served for more than three decades. His son, Alex, succeeded him on the board in 2003.

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