If you've ever been to a child's birthday party, you know how hard it is to wrangle all the kids together once the activities have started. Forget to inform them of a rule? Realized you need to change the plan? Once they're laser tagging/bowling/tumbling/rollerskating, it's pretty hard to bring them back to sit down-and-listen position. Cruise passengers can be just as hard to corral once their ship sets sail. Now, I'm not calling cruise passengers childish. What I am implying, however, is that once that ship leaves port, everyone's natural instinct is to relax, turn off their brains, and enter vacation mode. That's why it never made much sense to conduct muster drills once the ship set sail. That's all going to change, though, as the Cruise Lines International Association plans to require that ships conduct these vital safety drills before they ever untie their ropes.
According to The New York Times, the International Maritime Organization, a United Nations agency that oversees maritime safety, "expects to make muster drills before departure mandatory." Up until now, ships were only required to conduct these essential safety drills within 24 of setting sail. By that time, most passengers have begun to enjoy their vacations and are less apt to give words of warning and critical information their full and undivided attention.
While it might seem like a minor – or even cosmetic – change, we're confident that, by moving the timing of muster drills, crews are more likely to have passengers' full attention. Understanding what to do on a ship in the event of an emergency could be the difference between life or death. If you think we're exaggerating, reread the story of the Costa Concordia.