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One silver lining of the current pandemic is that cruise travel’s greatest pain point — the safety drill — is receiving a streamlined makeover. For more than a year, Royal Caribbean Group has been developing its alternative Muster 2.0 approach, but the post-COVID-19 timing is perfect to unveil it for implementation on the company’s Azamara, Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean International brands.
For decades, passengers have been required to gather en masse to their muster stations (venues designated for emergency situations). Sometimes, they’re seated, but most often, passengers must uncomfortably stand shoulder to shoulder with fellow guests. Traditionally, roll call would be taken prior to an approximately 30-minute presentation on the ship’s safety procedures and what is expected of guests in the event of an emergency.
Some of Royal Caribbean’s competitors have even required the actual practice of donning one’s life jacket, which would be the airline equivalent of having plane passengers test oxygen masks before every flight. Safety routines are far easier to practice on a plane as passengers are naturally gathered and seated to provide their undivided attention before takeoff.
By comparison, cruise guests are spread out all over the ship ahead of scheduled drills, and it can be a challenge to gather everyone from staterooms, restaurants and pools for a singular assigned time and place.
All guests are required to participate in drills prior to the ship’s departure; those who fail to attend the main presentation are required to make it up on time or risk being kicked off the cruise.
Now to avoid such hassles, as well as to allow for physical distancing as needed during the pandemic, Royal Caribbean plans to individualize the process.
New eMuster technology will allow guests to use their mobile devices or interactive cabin televisions to complete safety briefing steps at their leisure. A countdown timer will indicate how long they have left to watch an instructional video about life jackets, learn about the ship’s emergency siren and so on. To complete the process, guests need only visit their muster station to be verified by a crew member who can also answer any questions.
Royal Caribbean indicates it has worked with international regulators, the U.S. Coast Guard and other maritime and government authorities to ensure that the new protocol meets all safety requirements. It was previously tested onboard Symphony of the Seas in January, when guests reported better comprehension and retention of the safety information.
“Muster 2.0 represents a natural extension of our mission to improve our guests’ vacation experiences by removing points of friction,” said Jay Schneider, Royal Caribbean Group’s senior vice president of digital, in a press release. “In this instance, what’s most convenient for our guests is also the safest option in light of needing to reimagine social spaces in the wake of COVID-19.”
It also goes hand in hand with Royal Caribbean’s collaboration with Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. for their joint Healthy Sail Panel, and patent licenses have been granted to Norwegian’s brands accordingly. Additionally, Royal Caribbean is offering to license the patented technology to other interested lines and will waive licensing fees during the pandemic.
What remains to be seen is exactly when Royal Caribbean cruise operations will resume and which other cruise companies may follow suit with enhanced safety drills.
The DetailsRoyal Caribbeanwww.royalcaribbean.com