The muster drill may not be anyone’s favorite activity on a cruise ship, but it is one of the most important. It’s a safety drill that makes sure you and your fellow passengers know where to gather (“muster” means to collect or assemble) and what to do in the rare instance of an emergency. Some people call muster drills “lifeboat drills,” because passengers traditionally gather close to the lifeboats they’re assigned to if the ship must be evacuated; again, that’s a very rare occurrence.
The most important things to know about muster drills is that they take place before or just after embarkation, and you must participate. Muster drills are required, and the consequences for skipping them can be serious. If you don’t complete the drill, expect the crew to search for you; when they find you, they may invite you to attend a “catch-up” drill or to leave the ship.
In traditional muster drills, after a ship-wide announcement, everyone goes to their muster stations at the same time (the location of your station is usually printed on your passenger card and posted in your cabin). Some cruise lines ask you to bring a life jacket from your cabin, while others store life jackets at the muster stations. At your station, your passenger card will be scanned, or your attendance recorded in some other way as the crew provides important safety information.
But now, muster drills are changing. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic began, some cruise lines were rethinking their drills and moving toward a more digital experience. Now, several cruise lines conduct digital muster drills, sometimes using passenger smartphone apps.
The specifics vary by cruise line, but in a digital muster drill, passengers can review safety information by watching a video on their smartphones or cabin TVs. Some lines even allow passengers to watch the safety video before they board the ship. Then, once onboard, each passenger must physically check-in at their assigned muster station. This removes the need for everyone to gather at their muster stations at the same time, which helps with COVID-19 safeguards and is simply more convenient.
It’s still important to complete a digital muster drill, and to do so as soon as possible, perhaps even before you go to your cabin for the first time.
For more information on the muster drill procedure for your next cruise, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.
Find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/AtthetaTravel