Former Fox 35 morning meteorologist Jim Van Fleet has a new gig on the high seas. He’s Royal Caribbean International’s chief meteorologist – the cruise industry’s first such position.
“It’s the most fired up I’ve been about a job in a long time,” Van Fleet says in a video posted on the Royal Caribbean corporate website. “There are no two days that are the same, and I think that’s helps what keeps you going, that engagement and passion for the job because you know there’s another challenge around the corner.”
After working for 10 years at Fox 35, Van Fleet left in 2011 to become chief meteorologist at WTSP-CBS 10 in St. Petersburg. But his contract was not renewed last fall , which resulted in a messy break-up with the station that included a lawsuit he filed. But it appears to be smooth sailing now in his new gig.
Van Fleet keeps track of all of Royal Caribbean’s ships and the nearby weather. The cruise line says Van Fleet’s broadcasting background allows him to take technical weather information and translate it and explain it to people who aren’t weather experts, including corporate executives, captains, crew members and even passengers.
“Even when you have beautiful weather in Miami or the Bahamas … there’s something going on somewhere, whether it’s Australia, the Tasman Sea, South America, the Mediterranean – there’s something somewhere,” he says.
Keeping his eye on the weather across the planet can be daunting, but it’s also something Van Fleet thinks can help improve forecasting.
“There’s a lot of the oceans that just meteorology in general is not very good at. So not only do I have a chance to use my expertise in the short term forecast, but now I think Royal has a chance to take marine forecasting where nobody’s even tried to take it before,” he says.