Cruise Ship Safety Drill

Norwegian Pearl cruise ship

Norwegian Pearl lifeboats and pods with liferafts hang on side of ship

Cruise ships safely sail the waters of the world on a daily basis.  People come, people go and the ships sail on.  Nobody thinks twice about getting into their car.  Most board trains, planes, and busses without a care too.  Why then do so many people question the safety of a cruise ship?  The answer doesn’t lie with a ship’s actual safety, it lies with the press.  Things so seldom happen to these large human filled ships that when something does it makes the news in a big way.  Car crashes?  Commonplace, not news unless somebody famous is involved or it is a particularly spectacularly bad crash.  Even planes, trains and busses have more incidents than the mighty cruise ship.

lifeboat on cruise ship

There’s no deck under the lifeboats on Carnival Breeze

Unlike the Titanic, these modern-day behemoths have life boats or rafts enough for all on board.  They have state-of-the-art navigation systems, stabilizers, and well-trained crews.

how to get to the muster station

Safety Instructions posted on inside of cabin door

Regardless of the cruise line, every cruise I have ever taken on one of these large ships has started out the same.  Shortly before the ship leaves port, they have a mandatory safety drill.  All passengers must attend, regardless of how often they cruise or even if they are on the second leg of a back-to-back cruise on the same ship.  That is how important safety is to the captain and crew, and of course the cruise lines as well.  The Costa Concordia was a rare exception where the captain did everything wrong not only after the accident, but by not performing the essential safety drill before leaving the dock and sailing far from the charted course, he did everything wrong before the accident as well.

cruise ship muster station sign

muster station sign

The crew gives passengers a warning when the drill will start soon.  Passengers need look no farther than the ship’s card they carry everywhere that serves as room key, onboard credit card, and ID for leaving the ship and reboarding at port stops to find the number of their muster station.  This info is also posted on the inside of the cabin doors, along with maps of the interior of the ship.

cruise ship safety drill

safety crew at muster station under lifeboat on the Pearl

While the safety drill is nobody’s favorite part of a cruise, it does bring peace of mind knowing where exactly to go in time of emergency should one ever arise.  Sending everyone to find their muster stations in a drill before the ship ever leaves dock removes the chaos of not knowing where to go in a time that would have enough other chaos to need one less worry.

cruise ship safety drill

musteriing in the dining room on Carnival Breeze

Previously we had always mustered underneath whatever lifeboat we would eventually end up on in time

inside muster station

mustering at the sushi bar on Norwegian Pearl

of crisis.  On this year’s cruises both on the Carnival Breeze and the Norwegian Pearl we met inside one of the ship’s restaurants.  Definitely something one would need to know in advance, especially the first time when it comes quite unexpected.  From the gathering place, the crew members in charge would lead the passengers to the appropriate lifeboat boarding area if the need ever arose.

safety on cruise ships

Carnival Breeze has a deck at the right level to load into lifeboats

The majority of cruise ships have life boats hanging on each side, and often some barrels full of inflatable life rafts as well.  Under the life boats most ships have a deck where passengers stand, and the life boat would lower to that level for boarding.  The Breeze however had no deck below the life boats, but one where they sat at what looked like the proper level to get right in.

cruise ship life rafts

pods of life rafts in barrels

The Pearl had the deck under the lifeboats in the normal manner, and some people did muster there.  So we figured as we had an inside muster station, in the event of an emergency we probably would have evacuated onto one of the self-inflating rafts that shoots out of the barrel when needed.

how to use a life jacket

crew member giving life jacket demonstration

The safety drill takes just a brief period of time and serves an important cause.  Instead of griping about having to attend, passengers should feel grateful that their ship took the time to insure their safety before ever leaving the dock.  Even if people already know how to put on a life jacket without the demonstration they still need to know where to go and how to get there.  Each cabin has life jackets in a closet.  At one time passengers had to take them to the drill, but on recent cruises that has not been required.  In an emergency, passengers are supposed to get the life jackets from their room before proceeding to the muster station.  Just in case not all of the passengers make it to their rooms first, they also have some life jackets stored out on the deck.

cruise ship safety drill

crew member directs passengers to muster station

cruise ship life jackets

life jackets in stateroom closet

About LBcruiseshipblogger

MyCruiseStories blog tells stories about adventures in cruising on ships big and small. Things to do onboard and in port. Anything connected to cruising. Also food, travel, recipes, towel animals, and the occasional random blog.
This entry was posted in Breeze, Carnival, Norwegian, Pearl, Shipboard Life and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Cruise Ship Safety Drill

  1. Went on one cruise in my life (best holiday ever!!!). Great as it was, we were trying to out-run / avoid a hurricane and went through the most amazing amount of drills due to it.

  2. Our Adventure in Croatia says:

    you know what they say “better be safe than sorry” …. 🙂

    • Grayson Carpenter says:

      yep it’s always better be safe than sorry

      • The safety drills have changed a lot since Covid. Now on most lines you watch a safety video either on the cabin TV or the cruise line’s app and then go to the muster station to have your key card scanned.

        • Grayson Carpenter says:

          I don’t know about any other cruise line but I know carnival cruise line (ccl) has TVs on in the stateroom with the safety channel. the only thing in the carnival hub app is just how to put on your lifejacket.

  3. So did they tell you in the muster which safety pod/raft you’d get on to? It could cause lots of confusion in an emergency if they didn’t. It would suck to be one of the people to get an inflatable raft when others get a fully protected pod. Does that have anything to do with the type of cabin you stay in? I.e. guests staying in suites would get a pod, and inside 4 berth guests a life raft?

    • When your muster station is under a lifeboat, you are on that lifeboat. When it is not the crew in charge of your muster station will lead you to where you need to go if the need arises. I don’t know how they decide who goes where, but would assume it has something to do with distance from the cabins to their muster stations. One would also assume suite guests would get the best life boats, but as for inside people in the rafts – we had a balcony cabin on the Pearl and figured since we did not muster under a lifeboat odds are in an emergency we’d have been on the raft.

  4. Barbara Borstad says:

    Interesting post. Good to know the boats take every precaution. Not a subject a person who had never been on a cruise would think of.

  5. Chris says:

    I saw a few people wearing life jackets inside the ship. Were they just demonstrating how to put them on? In an actual emergency you should never put on a life jacket inside a boat. If it were to sink with you still in it you would float up to the celing and be trapped there.

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