Royal Caribbean Planning to Hire New Chief Meteorologist

If you're looking for a new career in meteorology, you might land a job with Royal Caribbean as their new chief meteorologist!

Just days after former Chief Meteorologist for Royal Caribbean International James Van Fleet officially announced his separation from the company, the cruise line has posted a job opening for the position.

The new career opportunity comes shortly before the official start of the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season, just when personalized updates on weather conditions that might affect cruises would be most welcome.

New Chief Meteorologist to Be Hired

Royal Caribbean International has posted a job opening for a Chief Meteorologist, the position most recently held by experienced weather personality James Van Fleet. Van Fleet recently announced his separation from the company, effective May 1, 2023.

Now, the cruise line is seeking a new chief meteorologist with at least 15 years of forecasting experience and a bachelor’s degree in meteorology or a related science, such as climatology, atmospheric chemistry, oceanography, or environmental science, with a masters or doctorate degree preferred.

James Van Fleet
James Van Fleet

Other qualifications for the position include different traits that would be ideal when working with a cruise line and interacting with various international teams and guests worldwide.

Excellent verbal and written communication skills; the ability to present forecasts via television, radio, and social media; operational experience from a transport sector; and substantial media and public speaking experience are all listed as key qualifications.

Cruise-specific experience or vacation preferences with a cruise line is not part of the job description, but would undoubtedly be helpful as well.

What Does a Cruise Line Chief Meteorologist Do?

The duties listed in the job description of course include forecasting, analyzing and interpreting weather data, but also feature a range of other potential roles within the company.

The Chief Meteorologist, for example, will also be responsible for maintaining a prominent presence on social media to serve as a “key subject matter expert spokesman for weather situations which are of public interest,” as well as acting as a “liaison with academic institutions and the science community for oceanographic and meteorological data collection and analysis.”

Since Royal Caribbean is often at the forefront of cruise ship design, introducing new features and innovations onboard each new class of ships – such as the first-of-its-kind AquaDome coming on Icon of the Seas – it is sensible that they would expect their Chief Meteorologist to be at the forefront of weather forecasting.

The Chief Meteorologist would also be responsible for advising on long-term global ship deployment plans based on seasonal weather patterns, providing guidance for fuel savings based on weather, managing meteorological training programs for other fleet officers, and overall managing the cruise line’s fleet weather support services.

It is unclear whether or not these are all duties that James Van Fleet performed, or if the cruise line has either expanded or contracted the scope of responsibilities for the position since Van Fleet’s departure.

There is also no mention of compensation or overall salary or benefits. It is likely these terms would be negotiated individually with a selected candidate based on their unique qualifications.

Rehiring for the Position

The posting of the Chief Meteorologist position is particularly curious, since Van Fleet had previously responded to his followers’ comments that the position was not to be filled after his departure.

Those comments now appear to have been removed, and it is likely that Van Fleet is not privy to the company’s plans now that he is no longer employed by Royal Caribbean.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Hendrickson Photography / Shutterstock

Since the cruise line is seeking to fill the position, it is unknown why Van Fleet was released. Speculation was that eliminating the position was simply a cost-cutting measure, and while Van Fleet’s salary as well as the salary for the new position is not public information, there are many reasons why he may have left the company.

Salary negotiations, change in duties, emergency availability, travel responsibilities, public appearances, and other factors could all have been cause for renegotiation of Van Fleet’s contract, and if both sides cannot agree, it makes sense for Royal Caribbean to seek someone new to fill the position.


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