Edwin W. Stephan, founder and visionary of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, has died at the age of 87.
In the late 1960s, he envisioned a cruise line offering year-round cruises from Miami on ships of a kind never before seen in the industry. His goal was to build three cruise ships that provided a level of service and luxury that would surpass what hotels were offering on land.
Under his watch, Royal Caribbean built Song of Norway, the first ship purpose-built for cruising. The cruise ship first set sail from Miami, Florida on November 7, 1970. The ship was built for more than just transporting passengers from one destination to another. The open decks were for enjoying sun and ocean breezes, features that quickly became standard on all cruise ships.
The ship was designed with safety as the top priority and purpose-built to ply the Caribbean and dock in its ports. The cantilevered Viking Crown Lounge was also one of his ideas.
Richard Fain, chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., gave the following statement about Edwin Stephan: “Ed Stephan started this company with a passion for innovation and those two terms – passion and innovation – remain core to Royal Caribbean’s culture today.
He 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. Our company and our industry are in debt to the size of his dreams, the keenness of his vision, and the kindness of his leadership.”
Stephan retired in 2003 as Royal Caribbean’s vice chairman of the board of directors. He served as the cruise line’s first president for 27 years and is known for reading every single customer comment card.
A family only service will be held to honor Ed’s memory. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in memory of Edwin Stephan to be made to Mount Sinai Miami Medical Center Foundation in honor of his physician, Eugene J. Sayfie M.D. By Mail: 4300 Alton Road, Ascher Building #100, Miami Beach, Florida 33140.