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Okay, so this was our 1st cruise. RCL, 7day Mediterranean Cruise. Was lurking here a lot. Why have the Muster Drill during the first day Party? I get it, seasoned cruisers can't be bothered like aircraft per flight instructions. New cruisers want to party. It was a total waste of time. Besides being assigned the Champagne Bar, great location! With everyone there already had drinks. People wandered up with drinks. You couldn't see the video monitors and the multi language information was hard to hear. All I could think about was the Concordia and how many of these people will not survive a major incident. Your Sea Pass has the Muster location. Set a podium up with a scanner there. The info is on the TV.It seems like that the only thing I got out of the drill was where I was to report.  That and if something serious happens the majority of these people are screwed.

 

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Every ship has a muster drill just before they depart. It is the law.

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1 hour ago, No Bananas said:

That and if something serious happens the majority of these people are screwed.

 

And because of their ignorance, your survival is in jeopardy as well.

 

Some cruise lines/ships do a better job than others in conducting their Muster Drills.  HAL expects guests to be quiet (and if they are not, a PA demand from the Captain:  Silence on Deck! will be heard).  Often, one of the Deck Officers monitoring that Muster Station will reprimand a talkative guest.  No food, no drink is allowed during Muster.  Princess does a very good job as well.

 

I've only sailed on one ship that had the video/audio screening at the Muster Station:  Celebrity Eclipse.  I agree with you:  that's very ineffective for the reasons you stated.

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Have you heard of the Concordia?

 

That's why muster is before the ship leaves.

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1 hour ago, 1025cruise said:

Have you heard of the Concordia?

 

That's why muster is before the ship leaves.

Did you read my Post.... The Concordia didn't have the Muster within the first 24 hrs as they were loading the next day. The Muster was 2nd day, crash the 1st. That's why " its the Law"

  Change the protocol if it has to be done before leaving the dock.  Your Sea Pass has the Muster Location.  Scan in and scan out the location because that's all that seemed important to the crew. Play the stupid video that no one was watching or listening to in the queue while getting the Sea Pass. Anything would be better than what is being done now.

Between the Concordia and the recent idiots in Russia grabbing their luggage in a crash as group dynamics. Are you confident after the drill of getting you and your loved ones off the ship? 

Doing the Drill in the middle of the first party of the Cruise makes no sense.It was a waste of time on something that is really important and in it's current form it's practically useless. 

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I don't understand how the drill would be during the party. Everything on the ship comes to a complete stop during muster. The party would not be scheduled until after muster.

While I'm sure they try not to leave port until muster is over, if the port and pilot says go, they go.

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Prior to the Concordia incident, SOLAS required a Muster Drill within 24 hrs of departure, so Costa, which had embarkations every day compromised pax safety (in my opinion) by only holding Muster Drills every 2nd day. This complied with the SOLAS requirements which were incorporated into the Flag State's Shipping Act/Regulations.

 

However, in accordance with all emergency response and human factors training, while it met the minimum regulatory standards, it did not provide the "Gold" standard for pax & crew safety. Shortly after the Concordia incident, SOLAS was changed to require Muster Drills before departure.

 

During the Muster Drill, all pax services should be shut down, as all hotel crew have duties in the Assembly Stations, stairway guides, cabin searches, etc. No food or drink should be served in any Assembly Station and pax should not be permitted to bring food or drinks with them. This should be managed by the crew in the Assembly Stations. If the crew are lackadaisical, the fault starts with the Captain and Senior Officers.

 

OP - if the only part of attending the drill was physically going to your Assembly Station and hearing the GES, you achieved the key deliverables of the Muster Drill. To be effective, drills should be as realistic as possible, so having podiums/scanner would not be effective, as they would not be used in a real emergency.

 

I had hoped the recent incident on Viking Ocean would add some additional impetus to ships & pax taking drills seriously. Based on the OP's report, it re-inforces that we will never cruise with RCI. 

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Pursuant to Andy's post above, the passenger muster drill is also training for the crew.  This is the only time that they can actually train with the unruly and uncooperative herd of cats that they are mandated to protect.  This gives them real life experience with what needs to be done in an actual emergency.  This is why having a podium and scanner, and letting people wander up and wander away is not effective.  It sounds like at least at this particular muster station, on this particular ship, the muster station crew did not do their job properly, and that shipboard management also failed in their job of trainers.

 

As Andy says, knowing where your muster station is, and what the signal for reporting to your station is, are the main take aways for you.  However, having all passengers in limited known, controlled locations, and having them all accounted for, is the main take away for the crew and officers.  My emergency duty was as "on scene commander", in charge of all the emergency response teams (fire, medical, technical, security) dealing with the emergency, so I really had little direct contact with the passenger muster or its personnel.  However, how well the muster drill personnel performed their duties (those in the passageways checking cabins for occupants, those directing traffic at stairwells, assisting disabled, and mainly accounting for all the passengers, had a direct impact on the performance of my emergency teams.  If I had to divert assets away from fighting a fire to search for missing passengers, then this compromised my ability to deal with the emergency, threatening the safety of everyone onboard.  For this reason, I personally attended every passenger muster drill, even though I was not required to, to assist in training both passengers and crew in how to save their own lives by following instructions.

 

And, while I applaud the decision of the IMO to change the timing of muster drill to be before departure (and many, many ships held theirs before departure long before the Concordia incident), not having the muster drill before departure was not the root cause of the panic and deaths in the incident.  Had the emergency signal been sounded when it should have (nearly 45 minutes prior to the PA announcement to "abandon ship"), even with passengers who knew nothing about their muster stations, the crew would have gotten them there in a timely fashion, gained accountability of the passengers, and perhaps even gotten them into the boats and away in an orderly fashion.  The root cause of the deaths on the Concordia, as anyone who has read the official investigation report and has experience going to sea will find, is Schettino's failure to acknowledge that he had a ship that was sinking, and there was nothing on this earth that was going to stop that from happening, and his failure to signal the general emergency alarm (the "muster signal") in time.

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, Heidi13 said:

.......During the Muster Drill, all pax services should be shut down, as all hotel crew have duties in the Assembly Stations, stairway guides, cabin searches, etc. No food or drink should be served in any Assembly Station and pax should not be permitted to bring food or drinks with them. This should be managed by the crew in the Assembly Stations. If the crew are lackadaisical, the fault starts with the Captain and Senior Officers......

 

......I had hoped the recent incident on Viking Ocean would add some additional impetus to ships & pax taking drills seriously. Based on the OP's report, it re-inforces that we will never cruise with RCI. 

Your insight on these forums is widely known and appreciated, but as one who has cruised extensively with RCI I can say from long experience that the OP's perception of how the muster drill is recognized and performed by the cruise line does not represent the standard by which RCI manages this process.  His experience is unique to our numerous musters attended over the years and is not an accurate reflection of the usual drill. If his description is accurate then shame on the crew in the lounge in which his was held as that is not acceptable nor the way they typically are conducted.

 

In our experience, all bar and restaurant services, and other activities venues are indeed suspended prior to the drill and food and alcohol is not allowed at the muster stations. Quiet is maintained in the areas during the drill and crew members support the presentation with a demonstration of the proper life preserver use.  All passengers are checked in - usually by way of a scan of the SeaPass card - and all staterooms cleared to confirm full attendance.  The drill is not completed and the passengers released until full (required) attendance is confirmed, the muster information conveyed, and the Captain makes his final announcement releasing the passengers. The OP's suggestions as to how all of this can be improved also is reflective of his inexperience but his motivation is understandable if the drill occurred in the manner described.

 

As to conducting a party prior to muster, it is each passenger's choice as to how they want to spend their first day on board prior to muster, and many of the bars and restaurants are open to support this.  With initial boarding typically occurring several hours prior to muster, it is very common for people to start their own cruise party prior to muster - basic human nature.  This is common among all cruise lines, not just RCI.  But, as mentioned, these venues (and related activities) are halted prior to the first call to muster, so the celebrations would cease during this time.

 

As to not wanting to ever sail with RCI, that is certainly everyone's personal choice, and I can think of a couple of reasons as well based on the many cruises we've taken.  But the manner in which the muster drill has always been conducted based on our experience would not be one of them.

Edited by leaveitallbehind

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30 minutes ago, leaveitallbehind said:

Your insight on these forums is widely known and appreciated, but as one who has cruised extensively with RCI I can say from long experience that the OP's perception of how the muster drill is recognized and performed by the cruise line does not represent the standard by which RCI manages this process.  His experience is unique to our numerous musters attended over the years and is not an accurate reflection of the usual drill. If his description is accurate then shame on the crew in the lounge in which his was held as that is not acceptable nor the way they typically are conducted.

 

In our experience, all bar and restaurant services, and other activities venues are indeed suspended prior to the drill and food and alcohol is not allowed at the muster stations. Quiet is maintained in the areas during the drill and crew members support the presentation with a demonstration of the proper life preserver use.  All passengers are checked in - usually by way of a scan of the SeaPass card - and all staterooms cleared to confirm full attendance.  The drill is not completed and the passengers released until full (required) attendance is confirmed, the muster information conveyed, and the Captain makes his final announcement releasing the passengers. The OP's suggestions as to how all of this can be improved also is reflective of his inexperience but his motivation is understandable if the drill occurred in the manner described.

 

As to conducting a party prior to muster, it is each passenger's choice as to how they want to spend their first day on board prior to muster, and many of the bars and restaurants are open to support this.  With initial boarding typically occurring several hours prior to muster, it is very common for people to start their own cruise party prior to muster - basic human nature.  This is common among all cruise lines, not just RCI.  But, as mentioned, these venues (and related activities) are halted prior to the first call to muster, so the celebrations would cease during this time.

 

As to not wanting to ever sail with RCI, that is certainly everyone's personal choice, and I can think of a couple of reasons as well based on the many cruises we've taken.  But the manner in which the muster drill has always been conducted based on our experience would not be one of them.

Let me clarify something. The Crew was not serving during the Drill. The Bartender was at the bar but not serving. The Crew was doing an impossible task with so many guests converging in such a small area I was assigned. There were many people seated that had beverages on the table. Guests were walking to the area with drinks in hand , getting off the elevators with food and drinks.and sitting on the steps or lounging in the area.

  I apologize if I mislead one to think the Crew was the problem. Again, as an inexperienced cruiser I didn't think in its current presentation, on that ship, the information of the Muster Drill is not effective to an inexperienced  cruiser. There has to be a better way is all I'm suggesting.

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Posted (edited)
20 minutes ago, No Bananas said:

Let me clarify something. The Crew was not serving during the Drill. The Bartender was at the bar but not serving. The Crew was doing an impossible task with so many guests converging in such a small area I was assigned. There were many people seated that had beverages on the table. Guests were walking to the area with drinks in hand , getting off the elevators with food and drinks.and sitting on the steps or lounging in the area.

  I apologize if I mislead one to think the Crew was the problem. Again, as an inexperienced cruiser I didn't think in its current presentation, on that ship, the information of the Muster Drill is not effective to an inexperienced  cruiser. There has to be a better way is all I'm suggesting.

Interesting as well as all the elevators are suspended and not in use (except for handicapped, etc.) prior to and during the drill.  Everyone must take the steps to the drill to simulate a real emergency as the elevators would not be in operation then.  And the crew is at fault to allow any of this activity in your area and had a responsibility to manage it to prevent any noise or other distractive behavior by the passengers.

 

There is not a better way as this is the tried and true method used by them after 50 years of experience and refinement relative to the SOLAS guidelines.  Ours, while not always enjoyable or perfect, have always been effective and conducted properly. Your experience was unique and not the norm.

Edited by leaveitallbehind

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5 hours ago, leaveitallbehind said:

Your experience was unique and not the norm.

 

Would it be helpful if the OP wrote a letter, sent certified mail, of his experiences addressed to Mr. Richard Fain, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Royal Caribbean International?

 

By sending a letter, my thinking is that the OP's experience could alert senior management of a possible training issue and at least investigate what the Muster Drill procedures are on that ship.

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Posted (edited)
38 minutes ago, rkacruiser said:

 

Would it be helpful if the OP wrote a letter, sent certified mail, of his experiences addressed to Mr. Richard Fain, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Royal Caribbean International?

 

By sending a letter, my thinking is that the OP's experience could alert senior management of a possible training issue and at least investigate what the Muster Drill procedures are on that ship.

Well Michael Bayley with RCCL specifcally v Fain with the parent company may be the better approach.  But in all honesty, I think this is a pretty isolated situation and what will likely happen is a standard "thank you for your feedback" response.  The drill is training for the crew as well and they are evaluated on their performance with each muster.  If they were lax in their efforts they would have been addressed on this by their superiors on board.

 

Not being critical to the OP but this was their first cruise and who knows what their expectations were regarding this.  Not challenging as I wasn't there, but I also would question some of the perception indicated as in 27 years of mustering we have never experienced elevators being operated just prior or during muster, have never seen an abundance of drinks and food present at the stations with the passengers, and have always had the crew maintain order and quiet during the drills.  The areas can get crowded and seeing the monitors sometimes can be somewhat difficult.  But we have never had the issues indicated by the OP.

 

The bottom line is if you understand where your muster station is and to report there by the stairways if the emergency drill is sounded, then you have gotten all you need to know out of the drill as the crews are trained to manage the situation on your behalf from there.

 

Hopefully the OP enjoyed their first cruise otherwise.

Edited by leaveitallbehind

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34 minutes ago, leaveitallbehind said:

Well Michael Bayley with RCCL specifcally v Fain with the parent company may be the better approach.  

 

Good suggestion to contact Mr. Bayley.  I had an issue with Celebrity Cruises when I disembarked Celebrity Eclipse and he was the President of Celebrity Cruises.  (I am a RCI Shareholder and so informed him in my letter.)  His staff and he investigated the situation (he said) and he agreed with my views.  The problem, however, was not resolved until a new Terminal was built for the arrival of Celebrity Edge.

 

I have also had some success as a CCL Shareholder when I had an issue with one Department of Carnival Cruise Lines.  Certified letters were sent to Mr. Arison (when he was Chairman and CEO), the Lead Director of the CCL Board, and the Executive V-P of the Department.  A positive written response was received from the Executive V-P and the change that I advocated for did occur.

 

If the "wheel does not squeak", how will management know that some "grease" is required?

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8 hours ago, leaveitallbehind said:

Your insight on these forums is widely known and appreciated, but as one who has cruised extensively with RCI I can say from long experience that the OP's perception of how the muster drill is recognized and performed by the cruise line does not represent the standard by which RCI manages this process.  His experience is unique to our numerous musters attended over the years and is not an accurate reflection of the usual drill. If his description is accurate then shame on the crew in the lounge in which his was held as that is not acceptable nor the way they typically are conducted.

 

In our experience, all bar and restaurant services, and other activities venues are indeed suspended prior to the drill and food and alcohol is not allowed at the muster stations. Quiet is maintained in the areas during the drill and crew members support the presentation with a demonstration of the proper life preserver use.  All passengers are checked in - usually by way of a scan of the SeaPass card - and all staterooms cleared to confirm full attendance.  The drill is not completed and the passengers released until full (required) attendance is confirmed, the muster information conveyed, and the Captain makes his final announcement releasing the passengers. The OP's suggestions as to how all of this can be improved also is reflective of his inexperience but his motivation is understandable if the drill occurred in the manner described.

 

As to conducting a party prior to muster, it is each passenger's choice as to how they want to spend their first day on board prior to muster, and many of the bars and restaurants are open to support this.  With initial boarding typically occurring several hours prior to muster, it is very common for people to start their own cruise party prior to muster - basic human nature.  This is common among all cruise lines, not just RCI.  But, as mentioned, these venues (and related activities) are halted prior to the first call to muster, so the celebrations would cease during this time.

 

As to not wanting to ever sail with RCI, that is certainly everyone's personal choice, and I can think of a couple of reasons as well based on the many cruises we've taken.  But the manner in which the muster drill has always been conducted based on our experience would not be one of them.

Apologies, but the last sentence was really "tongue in cheek", it was late and forgot to add an emoji. 

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I don't know.  Someone says they couldn't see whatever monitors they were supposed to be viewing and couldn't hear what was being said over the noise.  First cruise or not, maybe someone should listen to them.  

 

 

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Thank you for the responses. I am going to follow up with written letter of my experience thank you for the info. Anonymous keyboard warrior on travel forum versus  customer name is better you are correct. I am a new cruiser but not traveler. I have over 30 years Public Safety experience with hands on aircraft crash evacuations, bus fatalities, construction fatalities,   motor vehicle accidents. I know first hand how little time and luck make an accident surviveable.

   When the drill alarm sounded. Walking down 6 flights of steps passing several crew staircases. Then passing the banks of elevators into the 5th deck chaos. Going to a Bar where drinks had just recently stopped. A general apathy for the information because the party is stopped. Is a recipe for a disaster. I'm going to forward a letter to management.

     We had a great time on the Oasis. We are already looking for our next cruise. We'll go to the next Drill and hopefully not have the same experience. Happy sailing to all.

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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, Heidi13 said:

Apologies, but the last sentence was really "tongue in cheek", it was late and forgot to add an emoji. 

I get it - just didn't want the OP to think that their Muster experience was typical.  But after many years cruising with the aforementioned cruise line IMO there can be good debates regarding their current appeal.......😉 (emogi added!)

Edited by leaveitallbehind

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8 hours ago, No Bananas said:

I have over 30 years Public Safety experience 

 

In your letter, state this.  Your experience in this field will add credibility to what you witnessed.  Be sure to send your letter by certified mail.  Certified mail letters are unlikely to get lost in the shuffle of the regular mail.

 

I am a participant on the Amtrak Unlimited Forum.  There have been many reports over time that mail sent Certified gets attention by Amtrak and responses, other than generic ones, are received.  That was my experience when I was upset with a business practice of Carnival Cruise Lines.

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Having experienced Muster on both NCL and RCI in the last 13 months I will say that the RCI Muster experience was much more lax than NCL. 

 

On RCI (on Anthem anyway) it was a similar experience to the OP's where the station (one of the MDR's) had a check-in podium and then a video was played. 

 

On NCL (the Bliss, currently their newest ship so older ships may differ) the muster attendants were more "mobile" using tablets to check people in and directing them to seats (my muster was in the theater), the presentation was then "live" over the PA with the life jackets demonstrated by a dozen staff scattered throughout the venue to ensure everyone could see.  The cruise director did the initial verbal portion over the PA, explaining the emergency signal.

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I keep hearing that emergency procedures vary from ship to ship and then across cruise lines.  I hear that emergency procedures change over time.

 

I've attended about 55 muster drills over the past 16 years, and the only changes I've noticed are that we don't have to wear our lifejackets anymore and that key cards get scanned now to verify attendance compliance.

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The Emergency Procedures of ships of a particular cruise line should be fairly similar, as the Fleet Ops Manual will define the emergency procedures/signals: however, how they are implemented on specific classes of vessel will be included in the ship specific manuals. So it is possible to experience minor differences between different classes of vessel.

 

Across different cruise lines, the Internationally accepted signals should be consistent, but the additional codes/tones, etc are company specific. In my experience, most cruise lines use interior "Assembly Stations" to muster pax in the event of an emergency, but our 1 and only cruise with RCI, we were mustered on the prom deck standing below a specific survival craft. 

 

The actual Muster Drill content hasn't really changed much since my first one back in 1976. Their have been a few additions to the content/how they deliver it, conducting roll calls, bringing L/Jackets, etc. They now scan cards to verify who turned up, some ships have films similar to aircraft, but generally the Muster Drill hasn't changed much in my 40+ years.

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My background is airports, not ships, but I've managed evacuations, both terminal and aircraft, with utterly inadequate resources. I agree completely with every word chengkp75 posted.

Further to Heidi13, in my experience, newer ships have indoor muster, older ships outside. I suspect they were certified that way and it would be a huge hassle to re-certify.

I travel mostly on Costa. Most passengers are well aware of the mis-managed muster and the drill is treated very seriously.

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21 hours ago, Dancer Bob said:

Further to Heidi13, in my experience, newer ships have indoor muster, older ships outside. I suspect they were certified that way and it would be a huge hassle to re-certify.

I travel mostly on Costa. Most passengers are well aware of the mis-managed muster and the drill is treated very seriously.

Affirmative, I have read some companies are changing to inside Assembly Stations on newer ships, but on other lines the Assembly Stations were always indoors. Both companies I worked for - P&O/Princess & local ferries on all ships the Assembly Stations were indoors regardless of the ship'sage.

 

Totally correct that it is a hassle to re-certify the locations of the Assembly Stations, as it involves structural fire protection, routes to the Survival Craft and also crew trials to the satisfaction of Flag State.

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