Royal Caribbean revamps muster drills to minimize crowding

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With Muster 2.0, passengers can use their mobile devices to access safety information, which they will have to review prior to setting sail.
With Muster 2.0, passengers can use their mobile devices to access safety information, which they will have to review prior to setting sail.

The Royal Caribbean Group has reinvented the safety drill to reduce crowding during mustering by making key drill elements, such as where to go in case of an emergency and instructions on properly using a life jacket, accessible via mobile devices and interactive stateroom TVs.

Calling the muster drill "one of the least-loved but most important parts of a cruise vacation," Royal Caribbean launched Muster 2.0, describing it as an entirely new approach to delivering safety information to guests.

New technology, called eMuster, will provide the information to guests on their mobile devices and cabin TVs that they will have to review on their own timeframe prior to setting sail, eliminating the need for the traditional one-time, large group assembly. Royal Caribbean said the new approach enables passengers to maintain better spacing and to enjoy more of their vacation with no interruption.

After reviewing safety information individually, passengers complete the drill by visiting their assigned assembly station, where a crew member will verify that all steps have been completed and answer questions. Each of the steps will need to be completed prior to the ship's departure, as required by international maritime law.

Royal Caribbean CEO Richard Fain said the new muster process "is an elegant solution to an outdated, unpopular process. The fact that this will also save guests time and allow the ship to operate without pause means that we can increase health, safety and guest satisfaction simultaneously."

Royal Caribbean called Muster 2.0 the first dramatic change to the safety drill process in a decade, when the Oasis of the Seas moved life jackets from guest cabins to muster stations, a practice Royal said has been widely followed throughout the industry. The company hopes that Muster 2.0 will also be adopted industrywide and said Norwegian Cruise Lines Holdings (NCLH) has already licensed it.

The initiative will also be part of the protocols and procedures Royal Caribbean Group develops as part of its Healthy Sail Panel in collaboration with NCLH.

"This new process represents the kind of innovation that the Healthy Sail Panel is focusing on as part of its mission to enhance the health and safety of cruising," former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, co-chair of the Healthy Sail Panel, said in a statement. "It shows that we can accomplish a lot if we try to think outside the box on safety."

Muster 2.0 was first tested on Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas in January. Guests who took part in the mock process indicated a strong preference for the new approach and also reported better comprehension and retention of the safety information.

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