Royal Caribbean Cruise Line’s founder, long-time president and vice chairman of the board, Edwin Stephan, passed away at the age of 87 on Friday, November 8.
“We at Royal Caribbean mourn his loss and extend our deepest sympathies to the Stephen family,” the cruise line said in a written statement.
Stephan founded Royal Caribbean in 1969; the next year, under his leadership, the line launched the Song of Norway, the first ship purpose-built for warm-water cruising. Since that initial voyage, the company has grown into the world’s second-largest cruise line, a multibillion-dollar global company of six brands, operating 63 ships across seven continents.
Stephan introduced a number of other innovations during his tenure, including wide, open-air decks and the round, cantilevered Viking Crown Lounge. Royal Caribbean said it was also the first to stretch a major cruise ship by inserting an additional midsection into the 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."
A family-only service will be held to honor Stephan'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.