Muster drills are not fun, but cruise-ship passengers can protect themselves by paying attention.
Q: The recent Costa Concordia disaster made me think about the way I’ve seen some people behave during muster drills on other cruises I’ve taken. Some people carried the life vests for their kids because the kids complained about wearing them.
Some had obviously been drinking for a couple of hours straight and could barely stand up. And others just talked through the whole thing, making it hard for me to hear. All of this is bad etiquette, but more importantly, it’s a big safety issue. Have you seen this sort of thing, and what do you think?
A: One thing to remember — hundreds of passengers on the Concordia, which sank in January off the Italian coast, hadn’t even had a muster drill. So you can’t blame the chaos and loss of life on that ship on passengers who didn’t pay attention.
In response to this, all major cruise lines adopted a new policy in February that requires them to hold the muster drill before embarking from port.
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Clearly, muster drills are not fun, especially if you’re on a line that requires you to wear the life jackets and you have to carry a baby wearing its own life vest up or down a bunch of stairs.
I have seen some of the behavior you mentioned at muster drills — parents taking the life vests off their kids sooner than they should have, people on cellphones and, of course, the tipsy people.
I hope, though, that anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock has heard about the Concordia and will take the drills more seriously now. And I hope the cruise lines will enforce the rules.
As for what individual passengers can do, well, you can’t make other people pay attention. But if passengers near you are being so loud you can’t hear the drill instructions, speak up to a crew member.