Monday, February 13, 2012

Cruise News: New Muster Drill Policy

That’s something we haven’t seen for a while—passengers all lined up on deck for the muster drill wearing their personal flotation devices (life jackets to most of us). In recent years most cruise lines have adopted a procedure of holding the safety drills without requiring passengers to bring their life jackets along. Instead crewmembers illustrate how to put them on and anyone who has questions can then ask. Drills took place within 24-hours of sailing. More often than not, that meant attending a drill in the afternoon of embarkation day.

Exceptions to the policy usually included cruises that sailed late in the evening, such as when embarking in San Juan for an 11pm departure from port. However, in the wake of the Costa Concordia sinking, when it was discovered that many passengers had not attended a safety drill prior to when the accident occurred, that has changed. Last week the global cruise industry announced a new emergency drill policy requiring mandatory muster for embarking passengers prior to departure from port:

The new policy follows the industry’s announcement on Jan 27, 2012 of a Cruise Industry Operational Safety Review in response to the Concordia incident and as part of the industry’s continuous efforts to review and improve safety measures. The Cruise Lines International Association, European Cruise Council, and the Passenger Shipping Association put forward the new policy with the support of their member cruise lines.

The new muster policy, which has been voluntarily initiated by the associations’ members and is effective immediately, exceeds existing legal requirements by calling for the mandatory muster of all embarking passengers prior to departure from port. On rare occasions when passengers arrive after the muster has been completed, passengers will be promptly provided with individual or group safety briefings that meet the requirements for musters applicable under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). The formal policy is designed to help ensure that any mandatory musters or briefings are conducted for the benefit of all newly embarked passengers at the earliest practical opportunity.

Musters are mandatory exercises conducted on cruise ships to ensure passengers are informed of safety protocols while onboard the ship, including emergency evacuation procedures. Current legal requirements for conducting a muster of passengers can be found in SOLAS and mandate that a muster occur within 24 hours of passenger embarkation.

The Cruise Industry Operational Safety Review includes a comprehensive assessment of the critical human factors and operational aspects of maritime safety. As best practices are identified, they will be shared among cruise industry association members and any appropriate recommendations will be shared with the International Maritime Organization (IMO), European Union and other governmental authorities as appropriate. The industry’s efforts also are consistent with the framework and spirit of the International Safety Management Code. Recommendations resulting from the Review will be made on an ongoing basis.


Will Belden said...

The beginning of your post seems to indicate that muster drills without life jackets, the norm as of late, will be changing, but the external information you provided doesn't address that.

Will we now be required to take our life jackets when heading off to the muster drill?

- Will B.

Linda Coffman, AKA Cruise Diva said...

Actually, some cruise lines still require that life jackets be brought to the drill--usually the smaller ship lines.

I didn't mean to imply that the current method of no jacket required will change. However, I really think it would be a good idea to have the jackets at the drill again and to hold the drill out on deck by the lifeboats. Just my opinion, though.

Anonymous said...

The lifeboat drill on a Carnival ship is a joke, part of the getting underway festivities. Most of those gathered around the pool had no idea why they were there, let along heard any of the information. We felt like idiots because we brought our life jacket. People who couldn't find a lounge chair left.

The ship sitting on the rocks in the Med is part of the Carnival corporation. No one knew where to go or what to do. The passengers were lied to. The captain ran for his life.

See a connection?