While different cruise lines are making adjustments to safety briefings as best suit their operational needs, Carnival Cruise Line remains committed to the e-muster safety briefing or virtual mustering.
While rumors have persisted that the cruise line may be returning to the more traditional in-person group muster, Carnival has confirmed that the new, updated drill remains in place.
E-Muster to Remain
In addressing online rumors about the return of in-person muster drills from February 1, 2023, Carnival Cruise Line brand ambassador John Heald has confirmed that Carnival will continue to e-muster and noted the success of the new drill in demonstrating real-world application of the safety procedures.
“The new way of doing the drill shows guests where to go in a real emergency and how to wear the life jacket,” Heald said. “In a real emergency that is what guests have to do and from there listen to the Captain, listen to the crew. Trust the captain, trust the crew.”
The e-muster drill was initially implemented as part of pandemic precautions to minimize crowding and promote social distancing. Rather than bringing all guests together in close quarters at muster stations to go over safety information, the e-muster drill has guests view safety videos either online or through the Carnival Hub app prior to setting sail.
Once on board, guests report to their muster station at their leisure, where their Sail and Sign cards are scanned to record their attendance. At that time, a crew member confirms that this is the guests’ muster station, and a life jacket demonstration is made if necessary. Young children will also be fitted with wristbands printed with their muster station.
The new drill takes just a few minutes, and if guests report to their muster station right away, might only take a few moments. The old drill, by comparison, could take 30-45 minutes, with delays if not all guests report to the proper station or if there are late arrivals to the cruise terminal.
Another component of the drill is sounding the ship’s horn in the emergency signal – seven short blasts and one long blast – which is still done just before sail away, so all guests hear the sequence. At that time, food and beverage operations shut down and there are no ongoing activities, as this is the safety drill for crew members.
“Safety is always the top of our list,” Heald said. “Your safety, the safety of the crew and ultimately the safety of the ship herself will always be most paramount.”
Encouraging Guests to Muster
Many Carnival guests report to their muster stations in the first few minutes of their cruise vacation, and crew members are on hand at the gangway to help direct guests to the proper station.
The new drill, however, does permit some flexibility in when guests choose to muster. Some guests prefer to enjoy lunch first, while others wait until they have been able to visit their staterooms – which are generally open at 1:30 p.m. – to drop off luggage, then they can proceed to their muster station unencumbered.
Because the safety drill is essential and all guests must participate and complete their mustering before the ship sets sail, Carnival Cruise Line takes several steps to encourage mustering.
First are the crew members at the gangway encouraging mustering as guests embark. The ship’s cruise director will also make periodic announcements to remind guests to muster. As the time for sail away approaches, the last few guests’ names may be called over the intercom for muster reminders.
The cruise line also has it set up that after ordering two drinks, guests’ Sail and Sign accounts are locked and they cannot order any additional beverages until after completing the muster drill.
These methods have largely proved effective, and the vast majority of Carnival guests muster successfully and appreciate the ease and efficiency of the e-muster.
Future Changes Possible?
While Heald does admit that he is “not in a position to never say never,” it seems unlikely that Carnival will revert to the old-style group mustering.
“I don’t know if it will ever change or not but what I can say is that we are not returning to the previous way of doing this next month or indeed, at all,” Heald clarified recently.
These rumors do occur regularly, and notably, every cruise line has to make the decisions and implement procedures that work best for their operations. Disney Cruise Line, for example, transitioned back to the more traditional group drill in November 2022, and other cruise lines may follow if that option works best for their crew and guests.
So long as guests continue to comply with safety procedures and those procedures are deemed effective by maritime authorities, Carnival’s e-muster is likely here to stay.