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Royal Caribbean Cruise Line

 

 

Page 1 - First Generation Ships

 

 

These pages are devoted to postcards of the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. below gives links to complete postcard history pages on selected individual ships (to be added). Below the table are official in chronological order. This page covers the smaller 'first generation' cruise ships in the fleet, including the Nordic Empress, which was not delivered until after the first mega-ship, the Sovereign of the Seas, which is covered on .   Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines are one of the three major players in the 21st Century cruise business, the others being and /, (the fourth group having joined Carnival). They were formed by Norwegian freighter owners Isak Skaugen and Anders Wilhelmsen specifically to operate new ships in the promising US cruise trade out of Miami. Two purpose-built ships were ordered from Wartsila of Helsinki, the world leaders in modern cruise ship design at that time. was delivered in 1970, followed by in 1972. A third ship, the , to slightly modified design, arrived in 1972. All ships had a distinctive funnel-mounted lounge which set them apart from other lines. Another Norwegian company, Gotaas-Larsen later joined the partnership.   Royal Caribbean operated very successfully, maintaining very high occupancy rates on 7 and 14-day cruises out of Miami. In 1978, returned to her builders for the addition of a new 85-foot centre section, increasing capacity from 724 to 1040 berths. received a similar extension in 1980, but remains unchanged, since it was decided to build the larger in 1982 rather than further modify the existing fleet. In 1987, the Sovereign of the Seas was delivered, at that time the largest cruise ship in the world, which set the scene for the incredible building-spree of huge mega-ships by all four cruise leaders which continues to this day (July 2001), although there are signs of a slow-down with some current options being put on hold. Sovereign of the Seas is covered on , along with the other mega-ships.   Two other smaller ships are covered on this page, and . These were acquired with , their earlier history being covered on the dedicated page to this company. In 2002, Royal Caribbean belatedly formed a European alliance with First Choice Holidays (main rivals are already well established with ). will transfer to this new venture, and is to be renamed . The advance brochure for the simply-named "Island" (not Island Cruises!) is aimed at the same market as German - young professionals and families who have probably not cruised before, and want an informal on-board regime. The brochure is unusual in barely mentioning the ship, and has no clear photographs of it! In July 2001 there were reports indicating that RCCL would be interested in acquiring a stake in , since are apparently looking to sell their 25% stake (this did not happen). In 2002 plans were announced for RCCL and P&O Princess to amalgamate, but P&O Princess evantually teamed up with Carnival in 2003. was renamed in 2005, and was transferred to as the in 2008.

 

Ships on This Page:- - 2005-2008 (ex- - later ) 2002 - (ex- - joint venture with First Choice) - 1990-2005 (later , ) - 1971-1994 Song of America - 1982-1999 - 1970-1996 - 1972-1998 - built 1982, RCI: 1989-2002 (later )   Ships on :- - 2002 - Voyager Class - 2010 - Oasis Class (Project Genesis) - 2002 - Radiance Class - 1997 - Vision Class - 2000 - Voyager Class - 2006 - Freedom Class - 1996 - Vision Class - 2008 - Freedom Class - 2004 - Radiance Class - 1995 - Vision Class - 2007 - Freedom Class - 1992 - Sovereign Class - 2003 - Voyager Class - 1991 - Sovereign Class - 2002 - Voyager Class - 2009 - Oasis Class (Project Genesis) - new! - 2001 - Radiance Class - 1997 - Vision Class - 2003 - Radiance Class - 1987-2008 - Sovereign Class - later - 1996 - Vision Class - 1998 - Vision Class - 1999 - Voyager Class   Royal Caribbean Pages:- - Page 1: The First Generation Ships - this page! - Page 2: The Mega-Ships - Page 3: Fleet & Advertising Postcards - Amalgamated with RCCL in 1989 - Upmarket brand owned by RCCL - Acquired three of the first four RCCL ships.   Associated Pages:- - Royal Carribean UK Home Page   References:-      

 

 

 

 

Table of Individual Ship Pages

RCCL Fleet List - Part One

 

 

 

Song of Norway

(RCCL: 1970-1996)

 

Song of Norway was the first ship built for Royal Caribbean, being delivered from Helsinki builders Wartsila in 1970. She was 18000 tons as built, and carried 724 passengers. In 1978, she was lengthened by 85 feet, to carry a total of 1024 passengers and increase size to 23000 gross tons. She initially operated on 7 and 14-day cruise out of Miami, but later served throughout the world, breaking new territories for RCCL, when superseded by larger ships in the Caribbean. She was sold to (Airtours) in 1996, becoming their Sundream. The distinctive sky lounge on the funnel was removed as part of the deal, greatly improving her appearance. In 2005, she became the Dream Princess of Caspi Cruises for short cruises from Israel, and was later renamed Dream (pressure from Princess Cruises?). In November 2006 Dream was chartered to Gulf Dream Crusise, running out of Dubai, but the venture collapsed after one cruise. She was later acquired by the Clipper Group and is due to replace with the in 2008.    

 

The official RCCL card below shows Song of Norway her original condition.

She is photographed at Oslo (original headquarters of RCCL) presumably on her delivery voyage from Helsinki to Miami.

 

 

A later card of Song of Norway following lengthening (Wolf Enterprises)

 

 

A later card of Song of Norway following lengthening (Wolf Enterprises)

 

P.Asenjo postcard 679 of Song of Norway following lengthening.

 

 

Official RCCL postcard RCCL-1 of Song of Norway in Norway, following lengthening.

 

 

Official RCCL postcard RCCL-2 of Song of Norway following lengthening.

 

 

Scenic Productions (St Thomas) postcard CS-1 of Song of Norway following lengthening.

 

 

Postcard of Song of Norway.

 

 

serial sc2040, released November 1993, of Song of Norway (plus Sun Viking astern) at Oslo in September 1993.

Photograph by Ian Boyle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nordic Prince

(RCCL: 1971-1994)

 

Nordic Prince was the second of two sisters built for Royal Caribbean, being delivered from Helsinki builders Wartsila in 1971. She was 18000 tons as built, and carried 724 passengers. In 1980, she was lengthened by 85 feet, to carry a total of 1024 passengers and increase size to 23000 gross tons. She initially operated on 7 and 14-day cruise out of Miami, but later served throughout the world, breaking new territories for RCCL, when superseded by larger ships in the Caribbean. She was sold to in 1994, becoming their Carousel. The distinctive sky lounge on the funnel was removed as part of the deal, greatly improving her appearance.  

A complete history of this ship is available .

 

 

This card by Gulfstream (Miami) shows Nordic Prince in original condition

(plus Sun Viking and three NCL ships) at Miami (serial GS1016/2)

 

Astral Graphics postcard 670 of Nordic Prince following lengthening.

 

 

 

 

 

Sun Viking

(RCCL: 1972-1998)

 

Sun Viking was the last of three similar ships built for Royal Caribbean, being delivered from Helsinki builders Wartsila in 1972. She was 18455 tons as built, and differed from her two predecessors in that the bow was one deck higher, allowing a few additional cabins. Unlike her "sisters", she was not lengthened. She initially operated on 7 and 14-day cruise out of Miami, but later served throughout the world, breaking new territories for RCCL, when superseded by larger ships in the Caribbean. She was sold to Hyundai, becoming their Hyundai Pongnae.

 

Astral Graphics postcard 671 of Sun Viking.

 

 

Astral Graphics postcard 8-12 of Sun Viking.

 

 

Editions Subervie (Rodez, France) postcard Bx508 of Sun Viking at Bordeaux

(photo Maurice Subervie)

 

 

serial sc2041, released November 1993, of Sun Viking at Oslo in September 1993.

Photograph by Ian Boyle.

 

 

63 of Sun Viking.

 

 

Lord & Hunter 160 of Song of Norway & Sun Viking at St Maarten.

 

 

Sun Viking as Hyundae Pongnae.

 

 

 

 

 

Song of America

(RCCL: 1982-1999)

 

After increasing capacity on two of their three ships through lengthening, Royal Caribbean decided to build their first new ship in ten years. The Song of America was delivered from Wartsila in Helsinki (builders of their first three ships) in 1982. Song of America was larger than her predecessors, at 37584 gross tons and 1414 berths (1575 maximum). She pioneered a layout where cabin decks were stacked at the front of the ship, furthest from the engines, with public rooms further aft. Although common on large car ferries, this layout has not been repeated much on cruise ships. The Sky Lounge was even more prominent than before, completely encircling the funnel. Song of America initially operated the company's busiest 7-day itinerary from Miami to Nassau, San Juan and St Thomas. Displaced by larger tonnage, she was sold to Airtours' , becoming their Sunbird in 1999. Unlike previous sales to Airtours, the Sky Lounge was not removed. She later received the rebranded MyTravel livery. Following the cessation of MyTravel, she passed to Louis Cruise Lines management for charter to as Thomson Destiny. Ownership was initially with a Norwegian consortium, but Louis purchased outright in 2008.  

A complete history of this ship (including additional RCI cards) is available .

 

 

Official RCCL postcard P42072 (Astral Graphics?).

 

 

P.Asenjo postcard A.200 of Song of America.

 

 

Bermuda Prints postcard 305 of Song of America.

 

 

Photolaminados (Puerto Rico) postcard #6 of Song of America passing El Morro.

 

 

 

 

 

Viking Serenade

(RCCL: 1989-2002)

 

Viking Serenade was originally built as the Scandinavia for DFDS subsidiary Scandinavian World Cruises. She operated a cruise-ferry service from New York to Freeport (Bahamas) which was not successful. DFDS transferred her to their Oslo-Copenhagen service until she was sold to Sundance Cruises in 1984. The was only ship. Sundance merged with to form . She then became the RCCL Viking Serenade when Admiral was merged. Built as a car ferry, her chunky ferry looks were further spoilt when the funnel was shortened and an RCCL 'sky lounge' were fitted. Recent postcards describe her as weighing 40132 gross tons, having a length of 635 feet, and carrying 1946 passengers (maximum 2560). In 2002 she will be renamed Island Escape and operate 7-Day Mediterranean cruises as part of a Royal Caribbean/First Choice Holidays joint venture.  

A complete postcard history of this ship is available .

 

 

Astral Graphics official postcard dg-P80064 of Viking Serenade.

 

 

Catalina Island official postcard (photo Burney Ramming) of Viking Serenade.

 

 

Catalina Publications official postcard (photo Alan Barlow) of Viking Serenade.

 

 

RCCL official postcard (vik-2) of Viking Serenade.

 

 

 

 

 

Island Escape

(island Cruises: 2002- )

 

Royal Caribbean have initiated a joint venture with UK holiday operators First Choice to operate the Viking Serenade from 2002. The new company is being marketed simply as Island, and Viking Serenade will be renamed the Island Escape. The brochure is aimed at young first-time cruisers, and emphasises the informality of their operation - it appears to be a UK equivalent of the German Aida Cruises (now owned by P&O, but sticking with the German market). She will operate two alternating 7-day itineraries from Palma (Majorca) through the summer of 2002.  

A complete history of this ship is available .

 

 

This oversized advertising card was issued for the Brasillian market.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nordic Empress (RCCL: 1990-2004)

Empress of the Seas (RCCL: 2004-2008)

 

The Nordic Empress was ordered by Admiral Cruises to replace Emerald Seas. She was due to be named Future Seas, but never appeared with this name since Admiral merged with Royal Caribbean before her delivery. She became the Nordic Empress in the Royal Caribbean fleet. Nordic Empress was renamed in 2004. She was transferred to as the in 2008.  

 

Official RCCL postcard of Nordic Empress

 

 

Official RCCL postcard of Nordic Empress

Serial number AC-21

 

 

Official RCCL postcard of Nordic Empress

 

 

Official RCCL postcard of Nordic Empress

Serial number PCN592

 

 

Official RCCL postcard of Nordic Empress

Serial number NOR

 

 

serial number CC/S128, photographed by A.O.Wilhelmi 3rd.

 

 

serial number 008, photographed by Richard I.Weiss, Nassau, 24th November 1990.

 

 

Official RCCL postcard of Empress of the Seas

 

 

Photograph of Empress of the Seas

Photo: © R.J.Wingrove, Curacao, January 25th 2005.

 

 

Photograph of Empress of the Seas.

Photo: © R.J.Wingrove, Curacao, January 25th 2005.

 

 

 

 

 

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