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Cruise ships and muster drills: How serious are they?

Cruise ship operators and owners have come under the microscope lately for how well they adhere to safety protocols offshore. Until recently, some believed they could get away with having defective equipment, allowing dangerous situations onboard to persist and various other acts of maritime negligence. With the increased scrutiny of passenger safety, however, hopefully fewer injuries will be sustained on cruise ships.

Since the tragic Costa Concordia accident, some cruise ship captains have taken safety drills much more seriously and are removing passengers from a ship if they fail to attend mandatory safety drills. The International Maritime Organization has been working to improve safety on ships, and has required all passenger ships to hold a muster drill within 24 hours of boarding.

The muster drill is an opportunity for passengers to meet at lifeboat stations and learn what to do in the event of an emergency. The training is not optional for passengers. If a passenger does not attend the muster drill, they face a punishment determined by each cruise line.

Recently, an elderly couple was kicked off their cruise ship for not attending the muster drill. After several warnings and requests, the couple still refused to participate, saying that they had completed the exercise before. However, in order to show how seriously he takes compliance with these drills, the cruise ship captain had the couple removed.

Muster drills are designed to protect passengers in the event of a serious situation in which everyone must evacuate the ship. It is certainly positive that some companies and captains are choosing to be vigilant when it comes to enforcing these safety precautions. Those who are not rigorous in these processes allow passengers to become victims on the ship. Hopefully, adherence to increased safety measures will prevent serious and catastrophic injuries at sea.

Source: msnbc, "Elderly couple booted from cruise ship after refusing to attend safety drill," Dan Askin, May 16, 2012

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