Everyone who has ever cruised more than once dreads the life boat drill. You are relaxing by the pool after checking out your cabin and having your first of many enormous lunches on the ship and you hear these loud sirens and announcements. Go to your cabins - get your life vests and report to your muster station!
Royal Caribbean has been exploring the option of having those life jackets at the muster stations instead of in the cabins. Good idea? Bad idea?
Chairman and CEO Richard Fain said the life vests on the ship will be moved from staterooms to mustering stations on deck. He notes that lifeboat drills that occur at the start of every cruise is “a good safety protocol” but one that “is a royal pain in the ass—an important pain, but a pain nonetheless.” Under the current system throughout the industry, guests must go back to their staterooms to get their lifejackets before heading for their muster stations. “The lifejackets are uncomfortable and bulky and many guests leave the belt hanging,” Fain wrote. “After the drill, they have to take their lifejackets back to their staterooms. It’s also a time-consuming and difficult process for the crew. All in all, it’s a laborious, uncomfortable, manual process that can actually distract from the important safety purposes for which it was designed.”
On Oasis, Fain said, it was decided to work to improve the process. An automated record-keeping system was designed to track which guests were at muster stations. “The team, however, did not stop here and ended up with a dramatically new process that greatly improves the effectiveness and convenience of the drill,” he wrote. “The team quickly realized that the biggest issue was making the guests return to their staterooms to get the life jackets. But there really is no benefit to making them do this and we intend to get away from this practice. On Oasis, they decided to store the lifejackets at the mustering stations instead of the staterooms. This takes up more space at the mustering stations (lifejackets are very bulky) but we have the space. It also frees up a smidgen more space in every stateroom. The advantages are so overwhelming that you have to wonder why we haven’t done this before.”
Fain said the system is being tested. “Just to make sure this is as big an improvement as it seems, we’ve been running extensive testing on other ships. The universal reaction is that this is a dramatically better system. Among other benefits, it is safer—the guests can go directly from wherever they are to their muster stations, and we don’t have all of the cross traffic with guests wearing bulky lifejackets. Of course, now everyone wants this on all the ships and we intend to do so as quickly as we can.”