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Cruise industry adopts new emergency drill policy in response to Concordia

Muster drills - to be held prior to leaving port
The global cruise industry on Thursday announced a new emergency drill policy requiring mandatory muster for embarking passengers prior to departure from port. The policy follows the Jan. 27 announcement of an industry-wide operational safety review in response to the Costa Concordia tragedy. The Cruise Lines International Association, European Cruise Council and Passenger Shipping Association put forward the new policy with the support of their member cruise lines.

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.

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 SOLAS Convention. 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.

Before Costa Concordia, the vast majority of lines and ships conducted musters prior to leaving port. However, the new policy is an important step to close any gaps.

Musters are mandatory exercises to ensure passengers are informed of safety protocols while on board 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.

The Cruise Industry Operational Safety Review announced earlier 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 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.