Friday, February 10, 2012

Cruise Industry Adopts New Muster Policy

CLIA Announces New Emergency Drill Policy Effective Immediately

The global cruise industry today announced a new emergency drill policy requiring mandatory muster for embarking passengers prior to departure from port.

The new policy follows the industry’s announcement on January 27 of a Cruise Industry Operational Safety Review in response to the Concordia incident and as part of the industry’s continuous efforts to review and improve safety measures. The Cruise Lines International Association, European Cruise Council, and the Passenger Shipping Association put forward the new policy with the support of their member cruise lines.

Summary of Changes in Policy
  • Mandatory Muster before sailing 
  • Private drill for passengers arriving late 
  • Exceeds current legal requirements
The new muster policy, which has been voluntarily initiated by the associations’ members and is effective immediately, exceeds existing legal requirements by calling for the mandatory muster of all embarking passengers prior to departure from port.

Musters are mandatory exercises conducted on cruise ships to ensure passengers are informed of safety protocols while onboard the ship, including emergency evacuation procedures. Current legal requirements for conducting a muster of passengers can be found in SOLAS and mandate that a muster occur within 24 hours of passenger embarkation.

On rare occasions when passengers arrive after the muster has been completed, passengers will be promptly provided with individual or group safety briefings that meet the requirements for musters applicable under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). The formal policy is designed to help ensure that any mandatory musters or briefings are conducted for the benefit of all newly embarked passengers at the earliest practical opportunity.

The Cruise Industry Operational Safety Review includes a comprehensive assessment of the critical human factors and operational aspects of maritime safety. As best practices are identified, they will be shared among cruise industry association members and any appropriate recommendations will be shared with the International Maritime Organization (IMO), European Union and other governmental authorities as appropriate. The industry’s efforts also are consistent with the framework and spirit of the International Safety Management Code. Recommendations resulting from the Review will be made on an ongoing basis.

Read more about the IMO and various safety initiatives in our post:  World Maritime Day 2012

Muster Drill Variances

Even before the Costa Concordia accident, muster drills have been evolving.  With the latest technology, it is possible to scan the passenger's key card and compile a real-time list of passengers who have assembled at the muster station.   Even without automation, there is usually some sort of roll call made at the muster station during the drills.  The implementation varied by cruise line and possibly even the ship, based on available technology and other factors.  In all cases, the minimum requirements were met or exceeded.

The life jackets typically have the cabin numbers on them, which was often checked when passengers arrived at the muster station.  Cabin stewards would also check each cabin during the drill to be sure passengers had complied with the requirements.   All public areas are closed during the drill, so any stray passengers would be redirected to their muster station, which is also indicated on their key cards.

Recently, a Holland America passenger was disembarked before sailing for failure to comply with the mandatory muster drill.  Under the terms of the contract which is signed when passengers embark the ship, the cruise line can refuse passage or disembark passengers for failure to comply with instructions from the Master of the Vessel or other Officers of the ship.   The Muster Drill is under the command of the Captain (the Master of the Vessel).

Please familiarize yourself with the location of your muster station as soon as possible following your embarkation.  Safety is everyone's responsibility - not just the captain and crew.

The cruise industry will continue to review the safety practices and we suspect there will be additional changes in the wake of the Costa Concordia disaster.  We will continue our coverage of this very important undertaking.  

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