The muster drill isn’t anyone’s favorite part of a cruise. While it is necessary for safety reasons, it also creates an issue in the post-COVID world.
For those unfamiliar, the muster drill requires you to find your assembly station and line-up with dozens of other passengers. Often you are literally shoulder to shoulder with others while you go through a safety briefing about what to do in case of an emergency and how to put on a life jacket.
Royal Caribbean has announced a change in how that will work with its new “Muster 2.0.” The muster process will now largely be done on an individual basis before then heading to the muster station on your own to check-in.
First, instead of a ship-wide announcement for the muster drill, passengers will use their phones or the interactive TV in the cabin to review the safety procedures. On these devices, passengers will watch videos — such as how to wear a life jacket — that replace what was normally done in-person. Watching these videos can be done at any time before the ship sets sail.
Second, passengers will finish the muster drill by heading to the assigned muster station to check-in with a crew member. There, they will be able to have any questions answered and the staff will ensure that passengers watched the safety videos.
As with the traditional muster drill, to follow the law, this all must be done before the ship departs.
More Convenient — and Safer — Than Traditional Muster
According to Royal Caribbean, the Muster 2.0 procedure was done on Symphony of the Seas — the cruise line’s largest ship — in January 2020. They said that guests who tested it out “indicated a strong preference for the new approach.”
In fact, this new approach appears to take away some of the biggest issues with the traditional muster drill.
In the traditional method, the entire ship would shut down for the drill — essentially pausing everyone’s vacation just as it was beginning. Then, passengers would head to their assembly stations and had to wait until everyone arrived. It wasn’t unusual to wait 10-20 minutes in a big crowd while the last few remaining passengers arrived and the staff began the safety demonstration.
With this new method, you can now do the muster drill on your own time. And because you don’t have to wait on the thousands of other people on the ship, it should be much shorter to complete.
Most importantly, it removes one of the least “socially distant” features of the cruise. No longer must you stand side-by-side with dozens of strangers.
“In this instance, what’s most convenient for our guests is also the safest option in light of needing to reimagine social spaces in the wake of COVID-19,” said Jay Schneider, Royal Caribbean Group’s senior vice president of digital.
Coming to All Cruise Lines?
This new muster drill is part of the procedures that Royal Caribbean is bringing forth with its “Healthy Sail Panel” that is a joint venture with Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.
In fact, Royal Caribbean Group will use the process on its lines, including Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Azamara. It is also granting a patent license to Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., which owns NCL, Oceania, and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
Beyond that, the company is offering to license the technology to other cruise lines and says it will wave the license fees for the time being.
In other words, it’s likely that that sort of new muster drill will be a part of your next cruise, depending on the line you sail.