Saturday, March 3, 2018

Cruise Ship Muster Drill

“I am repeating... It's not a drill,... It's real....” 
― Deyth Banger

The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) requires all passengers attend a muster drill within 24 hours of sailing. Like practicing a fire drill in school, a muster drill is a practice for an emergency. All passengers are required to attend. No matter how busy you think you are or how young your children are. No matter whether you are in a wheelchair or walk with a cane or dislike crowds. No matter how many times you’ve worn a life jacket in your life. No matter how many cruises you’ve been on before you must attend the muster drill.

Muster drills are held in the muster station, an area on the ship where passengers gather in case of emergency. Muster station information is located on the back of stateroom cabin doors and is printed on cruise cards.
Green signs around the ship indicate the way to muster stations.
An emergency broadcast alarm is sounded to call passengers to the muster stations for the drill and for a real emergency. This piercing alarm consists of seven short blasts followed by one long blast on the ship’s whistle. Upon hearing this alarm go to your designated muster station. Some cruise lines have life vests in cabins and require you to bring them to muster and some do not. Be familiar with the muster drill procedure on your specific ship by reading details in the first day's paper and listening to the directions of ship personnel.

When entering the muster station cruise cards are scanned by muster personnel. Scanning of cards by the electronic system assists crew in determining the attendance of passengers. At muster a presentation is made on what to do in case of an emergency. Do not even attempt to get out of the muster drill. We have had real-life emergency situations happen on cruise ships. In case of evacuation it is crucial for you to know where to go and what to do. It is in your best interest to take the muster drill seriously!

Other things to know:

  • Elevators cannot be used during the muster drill or during a real emergency.
  • If assistance will be needed in a real emergency let your cabin steward or the passenger services desk know so arrangements can be made. Special personnel are designated to assist passengers needing additional help.
  • Depending on the ship your muster station may be located outside by the lifeboats or somewhere inside the ship. Some muster stations have no seating and others have limited seating. If you are unable to stand for a long period of time let personnel know. If yours is being held indoors consider going to the muster station a few minutes before the scheduled time so you can secure a seat. The elevators will also be working beforehand.
  • Ships have enough lifeboats (and then some) to accommodate all passengers and crew.
  • Cabin stewards are responsible for checking each cabin. Don’t dawdle in your cabin during the drill.

Muster drills are something to be taken seriously. What would you do if the captain came on the loudspeaker and told passengers there was a fire in the galley and ordered all muster crew personnel to the muster stations? Would you know to get back to your cabin and dress warmly and pack a small bag with your medications like we did? Would you then know where to go to evacuate the ship? Would you know how to put on your life vest?  Every cruise we see people talking to others, texting, taking pictures, and even sleeping during muster. Don’t be one of them. We’ve sailed enough and had enough emergency situations happen on the ship to know how important the drills are.