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Royal Caribbean Loses a Key Figure in Keeping Passengers Safe

A lot goes into keeping cruise ships safe. ]

Some safety efforts have become very noticeable since the covid pandemic. You can see workers cleaning bathrooms, sanitizing public spaces, and making very visible efforts to show passengers that keeping the ship clean has become a major priority.

Those efforts took place well before the pandemic, but cleanliness theater has become part of the show across all major cruise lines. 

A variety of other safety measures aren’t as obvious. Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruise Lines (CCL) – Get Free Report, and Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH) – Get Free Report have all, for example, improved their air filtration.

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That’s not as visible as someone singing reminders to wash your hands as you enter the buffet, but it’s part of the overall safety protocol. 

Health concerns are not the only danger cruise ships face. They’re also susceptible to weather and sailing into a storm can disrupt passengers’ vacations.

In most cases, cruise lines can steer their ships out of danger. They may not be able to fully avoid bad weather, but they can avoid the worst of it.

And in many cases, especially for Caribbean sailings leaving from Florida, the actual distance being sailed is short. That gives the captain — and the people advising them from shore — a lot of leeway when it comes to finding calm seas and sunny skies.

Royal Caribbean (RCL) – Get Free Report has had an added hand in keeping its ships safe for the past six years. The cruise line has been the only major player in the industry to employ its own meteorologist, James Van Fleet. Now, according to a Twitter post from Van Fleet, Royal Caribbean has parted ways with the meteorologist.

A Royal Caribbean ship is docked at night. 

Image source: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Royal Caribbean Drops Its Meteorologist

Van Fleet posted a short video and a brief note about his abrupt departure from the cruise line.

“Life update: Thank you @RoyalCaribbean for an amazing 6 1/2 years! What’s next? Open to everything and the search is on! James,” he shared.

Van Fleet’s last day was May 1, according to his post.

“As far as the guests go, I also want to thank you for all your trust over the years as we’ve moved you around storms and systems so you would have the best vacation experience,” he shared in the video.

Van Fleet made clear that he was not leaving for another job and said that he hoped to stay in Miami, but was open to all challenges.

The meteorologist was hired after Anthem of the Seas unexpectedly hit rough seas while cruising from New Jersey to the Bahamas.

“With waves over 30 feet and hurricane-force winds, the ship sustained minor damage to public areas. Although no one was harmed, it was not an ideal scenario,” reported Matt Hochberg of Royal Caribbean Blog. “Subsequently after the incident, Royal Caribbean decided they needed an in-house, dedicated resource to better monitor the weather.”

Royal Caribbean did not respond to TheStreet’s request for comment. Van Fleet did say on Twitter that the cruise line would no longer employ a meteorologist.

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What It’s Like on a Cruise Ship During Bad Weather

In December, Florida and the Caribbean experienced periods of colder and rougher weather than usual. On the Christmas sailing of Celebrity Summit, where I was a passenger, we made all our ports, but at various times at night the outside decks, except for the pool deck, were closed due to rough seas.

A smaller ship by today’s standards (about a third the size of a Royal Caribbean Oasis-class ship), Summit was noticeably affected by the waves. In the indoor solarium pool, you could see the water moving from one side to the other, and when you were standing indoors, you could feel the ship moving.    

The Royal-Caribbean-owned ship canceled outdoor concerts and other events on both Christmas Eve and Christmas. It also put out air sickness bags in the bathrooms.

Many passengers did appear to be affected. On both nights when the worst of it hit, it was not uncommon to see people enter the dining room, only to quickly leave. The ship was much quieter those two nights as many passengers opted to stay in their rooms.      

Most activities, however, were held as normal. In bad weather, sometimes certain shows cannot be performed or have to be modified to keep the performers safe.


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