Billionaire Royal Caribbean Founder Arne Wilhelmsen Dies at Age 90

April 12, 2020 Updated: April 12, 2020

One of the founders of Royal Caribbean, Arne Wilhelmsen, has died at the age of 90, according to the cruise company.

“The entire Royal Caribbean family extends its heartfelt condolences to the Wilhelmsen family,” Royal Caribbean said in a press release on Sunday. “Together with the company’s first CEO, the late Edwin Stephan, Wilhelmsen saw possibilities for the nascent cruise industry that others did not.”

Wilhelmsen, according to the company, died in Palma, Spain, on Saturday. It’s not clear if his death was related to the outbreak of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus in the country, and the firm did not release his cause of death.

Passengers Evacuated From Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship For Possible Coronavirus
Royal Caribbean’s cruise ship Anthem of the Seas in Bayonne, New Jersey, on Feb. 7, 2020. (Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)

“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, the current chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean. “He had a vision of the modern cruise industry when the ‘industry’ might have been a dozen used ships, total.”

He retired more than a decade ago, and his son, Alex, started taking his spot on the Royal Caribbean board of directors in 2003.

“Arne was a steady presence and source of wisdom on our board for decades,” Fain said. “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.”

Wilhelmsen helped found the company in 1968, and it is now one of the largest in the world. Forbes magazine said Wilhelmsen’s net worth was around $1.9 billion.