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Lifeboat Drill.


The recent accident on Star Princess prompted me to think back about the way lifeboat drills were handled on our last few cruises and the memories are more than a little disturbing not necessarily for us but for new cruisers.
MSC Opera - MSC Cruises - 59000 tons.
We were all assembled at the muster point which was one of the lounges. It was so crowded my wife nearly passed out from a lack of oxygen plus the fact that she was at the back behind about 5 rows of people and could not see a thing. No way could the staff have known whether or not anyone had their lifejacket on correctly. If it had been a true emergency I seriously doubt I would have attempted to go back to that muster station for fear of never getting out again. At least the procedures were explained (in several languages) which we could hear.
Saga Rose - Saga Holidays - 25000 tons.
12 of us joined in Antigua so they held a drill for us in one of the function rooms: only 6 people turned up and the staff seemed unconcerned. All very low key but at least it covered the major points except I am not sure anyone could have found their own muster station!
Norwegian Star - NCL - 92000 tons.
Our muster station was outside on the Promenade deck but at a point where the promenade narrowed to something like 6 feet. I heard the next door station being spoken to by a staff member who had a hand held megaphone but that is all I heard! Literally nobody said anything to us nor were there any announcements. We just stood around chatting and one family group got the crew to take their photos in lifejackets; shame they did not tell them that their son was nearly falling out of his since it was adult size and he was all of 6 years old:shock:
This is not meant as an overall criticism of all ships; it is merely what happened on the last 3 occasions. We have had a lot of excellent briefings not the least on M/V Discovery although it got a little routine on the 4th occasion!
Recent events have highlighted how important the drill is and these experiences show that some cruise lines are not treating the drill as seriously as they ought. To close - why can't all cruise lines use a standard lifejacket:pray:
Cheers. Paul


We did not have a drill when we sailed on Splendour of the Seas 23/9/01.

Aftermath of 9/11 meant that a new security/scanning system had been introduced in Venice. We were kept in a hanger for 3 hrs while passengers before us went through a rigrous search. By 4pm ( sailing time) we were just embarking and the Life boat drill had just finished.
Anchor was weighed as the last passenger stepped on the ship.

We did however attend the next week's drill as we were doing a back to back cruise. This did not help when 3 days into the 1st week's cruise there was a emergency blast; 3 bells, calling for the Dr to attend a heart attack patient by the swimming pool, which we heard in our cabin.
We dressed & went out into the corridor, where an officer was placed to convey the message to all worried passengers that it was not calling for us.


QE 2 changed their lifeboat drill last year, we did not have to put on life jackets at all and they did not check off our cabin numbers. Every year before that I had had to put on my life jacket and the checked off at the muster station. I am glad they changed the life jackets on QE2 about 10 years ago, they used to have cork ones, with long tapes. Hard to put on, and very very heavy. Not fun when you are walking up the stairs from 4 deck. :eek:


It is very important to attend these drills when you just embark on a ship. It is also very important that everyone in your party knows how to get there from anywhere in the ship as a real emergency typically occurs when not everyone is at the same place. Normally cruise lines make small children wear a tag so any crewmember knows which lifeboat the child is assigned to. In case of a real emergency the crew makes sure the child gets to it's designated muster station. The parents should not start looking for their children during an alarm but go to their muster station where a crew member will be with their child. This saves time and panic in real case emergencies.

The normal international standard alarms on ships are:
1) Fire alarm: long blast - short blast - long blast - short blast - etc. etc.
2) Abandon ship: 7 short blasts followed by 1 long blast

Typically, when the fire alarm sounds the fire squad teams will report to their fire stations, put on their firefighting clothing, get the fire fighting equipment and wait for instructions from either the bridge or engine control room (depending on where the fire is) before proceeding to their assigned position where they can start fighting the fire.
Other crew members in the meantime evacuate all passengers and crew out of the affected area and close firescreen doors (allthough this is nowadays usually done automatically from the bridge) to contain the fire in a small area.
Passengers are at this stage asked to get their life jackets and assemble at their muster stations (just in case) allthough this last step is of course not applicable when the alarms were only sounded for a crew fire drill.
When the abandon ship alarm sounds, all passengers and crew (apart from the officers and engineers on duty and the firefighting teams who carry on firefighting) go from their muster station into the lifeboats.
When everyone has left the ship (and the fire gets out of control) the last remaining crew would leave the ship in life rafts.

Luckily, real emergencies like the recent fire on the Star Princess and the sinking fo the ferrie in Vancouver are a rarity.
But make sure you are as prepared as you can be by attending the drills and making yourself familiar with the escape routes to your muster station on the 1st day of your cruise. It's one of those thing that most likely you will never ever need to do, but when it does happen, you wished you had attended the drill and knew where you had to go and what to do.


On the Holland ships they do a roll call of the cabin numbers.

If the cabin doesn't answer, they go get them.

There are three sizes of life jackets. The babies have one their size.

I remember our first drill when Celebrity was Chandris. The announcements were done in Engllish, French, Spanish and Japanese. It took a long time.

I actually like them. It is the only time that with my lifejacket on...I can imagine myself as Dolly Parton .:joy:


We have sailed -

- Carnival, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian and we have always had full muster drills with everyon participating, cabin numbers checked and number of passengers from that cabin. Always checked against a passenger list for that muster station.
Sailings have been both pre and post 9/11.

I'm with Dolly - I mean Dani on this one - I actually enjoy the muster drill - it's the fastest way to start meeting people.



Carnival does a decent Lifeboat drill. However, I don't recall a cross check of people to cabins. In fact, in 2003, we did a back-to-back cruise and the steward said that since we did the drill the previous week, as long as we kept the cabin door locked and the drapes closed, we could stay in the cabin during the drill. We decided to do the drill again.

Depending on the passengers, the drill can be serious or party like in atmosphere. We will be sailing in April and it will be interesting to see if the Princess fire had any impact on the crews performance and passenger attitude.



Steve, I CERTAINLY BET YOU THAT it DOES have a impact and that people pay A LOT of attention. Sure hope it does, anyway.

I remember checking into the Nile Hilton the day after the Sheraton Heliopolis burned, with a large loss of life (we were SUPPOSED to be THERE)

Remember meeting almost the entire tour out in the hallway...physically touching and counting out loud the room doors to the fire exits. And THIS was with NO prompting from the tour staff. Not a bad idea in any venue. Does not take long.


G'day all,
On our recent cruise on the Pacific Princess the life boat drill was very casual, we all squeezed into the show lounge or the restaurant and and nobody was checked to see if you came or put your life jacket on properly, pretty slack I thought. One elderly couple had each life jacket marked with different muster stations
But on another tack, we did the ferry trip from Tassi/ tissywa/ tasiiw LOL Oh heck! From Vancouver to Prince Rupert and back on the "Queen of Prince Rupert" many years ago and I am postive there was NO lifeboat drill, so all those passengers that were saved in the recent sinking were very lucky.
Regards Bob



I hope your right. I'll post a message or two from the ship and let everyone know how things are going. Will try to post a link to a few pictures