Norwegian Cruise Line has announced that it will be returning to virtual muster drills, after having recently resumed the traditional in-person drills.
Why? Well, nobody really likes the in-person drills, do they?
The change is expected to be phased in throughout the month of April, with effective dates for specific ships being released during that time.
The announcement was made in an email sent to travel agents, in which Norwegian Cruise Line confirmed the return of virtual muster drills. The email stated:
“In an effort to enhance the onboard guest experience while keeping the safety of our guests and crew our top priority, we will reinstate e-muster drills through our online check-in for sailings beginning April 1, 2023.”
The e-muster drill was first introduced during the pandemic as a way to promote social distancing and reduce the risk of disease transmission. The decision to return to the e-muster drill was made as part of the company’s ongoing efforts to enhance the onboard guest experience while ensuring the safety of its guests and crew.
What is an e-muster drill?
An e-muster or virtual muster drill involves guests watching safety videos prior to boarding the ship and then only needing to visit their assigned muster station once aboard. The traditional drill, on the other hand, involves all passengers participating at once in a large venue like the theatre and takes 30-45 minutes.
The e-muster drill provides a more personalized experience for guests, involving safety videos that can be watched prior to boarding the ship. The videos contain information about what to do and where to go during an onboard emergency, including how to properly put on a life jacket and what safety signals sound like. Once onboard a cruise, guests only need to visit their assigned muster station location – printed on their ship card and posted in their stateroom – to complete the drill.
In total, completing the e-muster drill may take only 20 minutes of a guest’s time, which is broken up into the pre-cruise videos and just a few minutes spent onboard visiting and checking in at the actual muster station, which may be located in one of a ship’s lounges or restaurants, casino, or other public spaces.
While some guests may prefer the traditional drill, the e-muster has been popular with many, and it seems likely that other cruise lines will continue to use it for the foreseeable future. Carnival Cruise Line, for example, announced in mid-January that it remains confident in the e-muster option and will continue to use it for the foreseeable future.
Norwegian Cruise Line’s decision to return to the e-muster drill is part of its commitment to delivering an exceptional and safe experience onboard. In the email to travel agents, the company stated:
“We are committed to delivering an exceptional and safe experience onboard and, as such, will continue to actively evaluate and modify our processes for best practices.”
When will things change?
The change is expected to be carried out in a phased way, with effective dates for specific ships being released throughout the month of April. The communication from Norwegian Cruise Line stated:
“Please stay tuned for more information regarding effective dates for specific ships throughout the month of April.”
It is likely that there may be slight delays in reinstating the new drill, which could be related to crew member training and updating onboard operational guidelines for the e-muster, instead of the traditional drill.
While the e-muster drill is planned to begin fleetwide from April 1, 2023, it may not be immediately available on all vessels. The communication from Norwegian Cruise Line stated:
“We will reinstate e-muster drills through our online check-in for sailings beginning April 1, 2023. We are committed to delivering an exceptional and safe experience onboard and, as such, will continue to actively evaluate and modify our processes for best practices.”
How do other cruise lines handle muster drills?
Norwegian Cruise Line is not the only cruise line to introduce new methods of informing passengers about onboard safety procedures. Royal Caribbean International, MSC Cruises, and Carnival Cruise Line have all introduced new methods as well.
Royal Caribbean launched the new Muster 2.0 program, which is said to transform the process originally designed for large groups of people into a faster, more personal approach that encourages higher levels of safety. With the new method, guests use their stateroom TVs or a smartphone to review safety information individually before visiting their assigned assembly stations.
Carnival, on the other hand, turned the safety drill into a two-part process that starts with a visit to the guests’ assigned muster station. After following instructions available on the company’s HUB cell phone app, the passengers are asked to watch a safety video on their cabin TVs, effectively completing the process.
The bottom line
Norwegian Cruise Line’s decision to return to virtual muster drills is part of its ongoing efforts to enhance the onboard guest experience while keeping the safety of its guests and crew its top priority.
While some guests may prefer the traditional in-person drill, the e-muster has been popular with many, and it seems likely that other cruise lines will continue to use it for the foreseeable future.
Norwegian Cruise Line’s decision to return to the e-muster drill is a step towards a more modern and streamlined approach to onboard safety procedures, which is becoming increasingly important in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. As cruise lines continue to evaluate and modify their processes for best practices, it is likely that we will see more changes and innovations in the future.
Overall, the return to virtual muster drills is a positive development for Norwegian Cruise Line and its guests, as it provides a more convenient and efficient way to complete onboard safety procedures while still maintaining the highest standards of safety and security.
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