Popular social media personality and chief meteorologist for Royal Caribbean International, James Van Fleet, has confirmed that he is moving on from his position with the cruise line and no replacement will be hired.
What will this mean for keeping guests updated about weather conditions impacting their cruises?
James Van Fleet Moving On
As of May 1, 2023, James Van Fleet is no longer with Royal Caribbean International to report on storm systems or weather updates as the cruise line’s Chief Meteorologist. The update was shared on Van Fleet’s popular Twitter feed, where he has more than 27,000 followers.
“Hey friends, quick life update, just wanted to make it official and let you know as of May first I am no longer with Royal Caribbean,” Van Fleet said, while thanking the cruise line for an amazing work experience. “That was so much fun, I enjoyed every minute of it.”
Van Fleet also thanked guests for their trust over the past 6.5 years as he provided storm updates and other information about how different weather conditions would impact their cruise vacations.
Van Fleet started with Royal Caribbean in January 2017 as the first meteorologist employed by any cruise line, and over the years has updated cruise guests and interested fans about weather-related ship diversions, itinerary changes, port cancellations, delays, and more.
Prior to working with Royal Caribbean, he worked as a meteorologist for local television channels in both Tampa and Orlando, as well as stations in Texas, giving him more than 20 years’ experience in areas with the most popular cruise ship homeports.
Keeping Guests Informed
In comments to his video announcement, Van Fleet confirmed that Royal Caribbean will no longer have a staff meteorologist, but that does not mean the cruise line will fail to notify guests of weather-related changes to their cruises.
Many cruise lines use digital apps to keep guests informed of any itinerary changes, as well as text messages, emails, and onboard announcements and communication from each ship’s captain when changes or diversions are necessary.
While Van Fleet was a comfortable and familiar “face” for such announcements, the cruise line is sure to continue keeping guest, crew, and ship safety at the forefront when weather conditions may impact cruise travel. All ship captains and operations officials at the cruise line’s Miami headquarters continue to receive updated weather information at all times.
Some guests on social media are speculating that Van Fleet’s departure may be a cost-cutting maneuver by the cruise line, eliminating a position that may not be deemed essential. There is no confirmation, however, that financial considerations were in any way a factor in the employment change.
Hurricane Season Set to Begin
Van Fleet’s departure from Royal Caribbean International comes just days before the 2023 Atlantic Basin Hurricane Season is set to begin. The official hurricane season runs annually from June 1 through November 30, though dangerous storms can occasionally form outside those dates.
The outlook for the 2023 season predicts a “challenging” season. While a strong El Nino is possible to develop, which would generally lessen the number of tropical storms, a very warm Atlantic Ocean would indicate an increase in storms.
This creates greater uncertainty for storm season predictions, but overall, a total of 13-15 named storms are expected, with 6-7 becoming hurricanes and 2-3 strengthening to “major” storms. This amounts to an average hurricane season, but there is no predicting how, when, or where storms may make landfall or impact cruise travel at this point.
Read Also: How a Hurricane Could Affect Your Cruise
Cruise travelers should always monitor weather conditions as their sailing date approaches, and be prepared for alternative travel plans and flexible cruise expectations if weather does impact their voyage.