Cruise Industry pioneer Knut Kloster, one of the founders of the forerunner of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, died on Sunday aged of 91.

The company will dedicate a section of a new terminal in Miami and introduce an annual $10,000 staff recognition award in memory of his humanitarian, environmentalist and innovative spirit.

Starting in 1966, he tapped into a growing demand in the US for international travel by offering cruises from Miami on the 550-passenger Sunward, in the process creating the modern cruise industry.

He founded the first private island in Great Stirrup Cay and launching the first mega-ship in the Caribbean with the SS Norway.

Born in Oslo in 1929, Kloster became head of his family’s shipping company in 1959.

He expanded operations in an effort to diversify to include a passenger ship to sail voyages from Gibraltar and Morocco which were complicated by geopolitical events in the region.

He would receive a fortuitous communication from Ted Arison, who later went on to found Carnival Cruise Lines in 1972, inviting him to come to Miami to inspect the facilities and perhaps reposition Sunward to the Caribbean.

Norwegian Caribbean Lines was soon formed and the first voyage from Miami to Nassau in the Bahamas departed in December 1966, ushering in a new era of cruising.

With crews hailing from multinational backgrounds, he developed a culture of inclusion and understanding on board his ships.

For his efforts, he received permission from the United Nations to fly its flag on SS Norway’s mast.

NCLH president and chief executive Frank Del Rio said: “We are incredibly saddened by the loss of the visionary who not only brought our company, but our industry, to life.

“Knut was a pioneer in our industry and certainly ahead of his time, exploring every opportunity to be at the forefront and break boundaries. His passion went beyond cruising with contributions to social, cultural, humanitarian and environmental causes worldwide.”

He espoused an unwavering belief that lasting commercial success rested in social and environmental responsibility as much as in financial accountability.

Del Rio added: “Knut Kloster’s legacy lives on throughout the cruise industry with every new vessel that is launched and every new innovation that is introduced.

“It is with great pride and a tremendous sense of responsibility, that we carry on with the vision he created many years ago.

“The design for the Pearl of Miami, our iconic, state-of-the-art terminal at PortMiami, took inspiration from the “white ships” that defined our company’s growth in the late 1960s, so it is only fitting that we dedicate the main hall of the Pearl of Miami as Kloster Hall in his memory.

“Mr Kloster’s biggest contribution to our company and the industry was his penchant for innovation and I am proud to establish the Knut Kloster Team Member Award for Innovation, a $10,000 award to be presented annually to a shipside or shoreside team member who has consistently demonstrated our company’s ideals of innovation.”