When guests gathered at their muster stations aboard Celebrity Equinox last week they didn't have to go to their cabins to retrieve their lifejackets beforehand, nor did they have to return them after the drill was complete. In fact, they didn't have to put them on at all!
As Richard Fain, Chairman & CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd stated in his blog recently, the muster drill is “a royal pain in the ass—an important pain, but a pain nonetheless.” He explained, “Under our current system, the guests all have to go back to their staterooms, get their lifejackets, and walk through the hallways carrying or wearing their lifejackets. The lifejackets are uncomfortable and bulky and many guests leave the belt hanging. After the drill, they have to take their lifejackets back to their staterooms. It’s also a time consuming and difficult process for the crew. All in all, it’s a laborious, uncomfortable, manual process that can actually distract from the important safety purposes for which it was designed.”
The behind-the-scenes team at Royal Caribbean recognized that the biggest issue was making guests return to their staterooms to get the life jackets. But they also realized there would be no benefit to making them do that aboard Oasis of the Seas when it launches because the ship is large enough that lifejackets can be stored at the mustering stations instead of the staterooms. This takes up more space at the mustering stations (lifejackets are very bulky), but a bonus to storing them there is the ability to free up a bit more space in each stateroom.
Fain adds, “Just to make sure this is as big an improvement as it seems, we’ve been running extensive testing on other ships. The universal reaction is that this is a dramatically better system. Amongst other benefits, it is safer—the guests can go directly from wherever they are to their muster stations and we don’t have all of the cross traffic with guests wearing bulky lifejackets.”
And that’s why we had a no-jacket-required muster drill aboard Celebrity Equinox. As a “tester” of the system, my impression was that it was the most efficient, civilized, and (dare I say?) comfortable safety drill I have ever attended.
See what else I learned while on board Celebrity Equinox in the new ship review at CruiseDiva.com.