Norwegian Cruise Line Makes a Significant Muster Drill Change

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Norwegian Cruise Line has quietly updated its muster drill policy, moving back to the e-muster drill after having resumed the more traditional, in-person muster drills in late January. Now, the e-muster drill will be reinstated fleetwide for sailings on or after April 1, 2023, but may not be available on all ships right away.

E-Muster to Return

Frequent cruisers will be thrilled to learn the streamlined, at-your-leisure e-muster drill will be returning to Norwegian Cruise Line this spring, as early as April 1, 2023 for some ships.

The cruise line announced the change via communications to travel partners, with the note that reinstating the e-muster drill is also part of efforts to “enhance the onboard guest experience,” but the change may not occur immediately on all ships.

“We will reinstate e-muster drills through our online check-in for sailings beginning April 1, 2023,” the communication reads. “We are committed to delivering an exceptional and safe experience on board and, as such, will continue to actively evaluate and modify our processes for best practices.”

Norwegian Cruise Line Muster Drill
Photo Credit: John Konrad / Shutterstock

While the e-muster option is planned to begin from April 1 throughout the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet, it may not be immediately available on all vessels.

“Please stay tuned for more information regarding effective dates for specific ships throughout the month of April,” the communication states.

This indicates that there may be slight delays in reinstituting the new drill, which could be related to crew member training and updating onboard operational guidelines for the e-muster, instead of the traditional drill.

About the E-Muster Drill

The e-muster drill is a more personalized experience for guests, involving safety videos that can be watched prior to boarding the ship. The videos contain information about what to do and where to go during an onboard emergency, including how to properly put on a life jacket and what safety signals sound like.

Once onboard a cruise, then, guests only need to visit their assigned muster station location – printed on their ship card and posted in their stateroom – to complete the drill.

In total, completing the e-muster drill may take only 20 minutes of a guest’s time, which is broken up into the pre-cruise videos and just a few minutes spent onboard visiting and checking in at the actual muster station, which may be located in one of a ship’s lounges or restaurants, casino, or other public spaces.

Cruise Ship Muster Drill
Photo Credit: MikhailBerkut / Shutterstock

The traditional drill, on the other hand, has no pre-cruise component but generally takes 30-45 minutes onboard as all passengers participate at once, reporting to their muster stations shortly before a ship sets sail.

During the traditional drill, safety information is read over the ship’s public address system, the emergency signal is sounded, and crew members demonstrate how to put on a life vest. All guests must participate in the drill before a ship can depart its homeport.

E-muster drills were instituted as cruising restarted after the industry-wide pandemic lockdown as another way to promote social distancing and reduce the risk of disease transmission. Since the restart, Disney Cruise Line first reverted to the traditional drill in mid-November 2022, with Norwegian Cruise Line doing so in late January 2023.

Why Change Back to E-Muster?

Many guests have dramatically preferred the e-muster, and guest feedback may have played a part in NCL’s decision to reinstate the e-muster drill.

All cruise lines have the right to adjust operational procedures to best meet the required guidelines and their guests’ preferences, and it is not unusual for onboard policies and procedures to be changed and updated periodically.

At this time, e-muster drills remain popular aboard other major cruise lines as well, with no announced plans to return to traditional in-person safety briefings. In fact, Carnival Cruise Line announced in mid-January that it remains confident in the e-muster option, and will continue to use it for the foreseeable future.

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