The Reason for Muster Drills


I get a lot of e-mails from readers who want to know what to do during the muster drills on cruise ships. After all, as one person claimed, “They are a waste of time and as a wheelchair-user it takes forever to get an elevator to get back to my cabin.” I’ve also received tips from people about “how to avid muster drills”, which in one case involved a passenger hiding under a blanket on the floor of her cabin.

I have to agree they can be a hassle, and they aren’t exactly the highlight of the cruise experience, however given last weeks news of the fire on the Star Princess, I think they are essential. Apparently the fire was started by a cigarette (another reason to ban smoking) and it left one passenger dead and 11 passengers injured.

It was an unfortunate incident, but again it goes to show you that those muster drills are important. What would you do if the fire alarm went off in the middle of the night? You should be able to answer that question before the ship sails, especially if you use any type of a mobility device.

So what should you do to ensure your safety? As soon as you are settled in your room, ask you cabin attendant about the correct procedure for wheelchair-users and slow walkers in the event of an emergency. You have to assume that the elevators will not be operational, so if you are a slow walker who cannot do stairs, you need to find out where you should go if the alarm sounds. In most cases there is a designated meeting place for disabled passengers who use wheelchairs or scooters. Find out where this is, and ask about the procedure for getting you to the life boat deck.

Does this mean you can pass on the muster drill? Not a good idea in my book, as it never hurts to be prepared. The crew will get you to the life boat deck, but you should know what to do after that. That’s the purpose of the drill. So go early and just accept the fact that you’ll have to stick around for a bit after the drill.

Bottom line; the muster drill is for your safety, so you know what to do in the event of an emergency. Don’t skip it!!