Carnival Responds to Lifeboat Drill Concerns

By Karen

I sent a link to my recent post on the lifeboat drill I attended on Carnival Glory to Carnival Cruise Line’s president and CEO, Gerald Cahill. Mr. Cahill asked a staff member to respond:

I want to assure you that safety is our number one priority and we have maintained an excellent safety record throughout our company’s 40-year history. All of our crew undergo regular and comprehensive safety training exercises in accordance with international maritime regulations and every ship undergoes a quarterly inspection by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Carnival Cruise Line captains are very experienced and extremely well trained, with most having more than 30 years of seafarer experience. The captain manages and oversees all safety related operations from the bridge, as he did during your cruise in preparation for the annual U.S. Coast Guard inspection that was scheduled for Sunday, May 27, 2012.

Additionally, the captains have well trained officers, that under his direction, conduct and control essential duties related to the safety of the vessel. These duties include the execution of the guest Safety Briefing, as well as, carrying out an abandon ship order in a controlled and efficient manner as directed by the captain.

The Safety Briefings/Drills are governed by international rules and the proficiency of all team members is monitored on a regular basis. The efficacy of the Safety Briefings as it pertains to our guests and their comprehension is reviewed and also monitored regularly by third parties, including the U.S. Coast Guard. Additionally, we conduct guest surveys to ensure we are providing effective instruction. The results of those surveyed consistently indicate guests are very satisfied with the instruction provided.

Moreover, all of our procedures are regularly audited by the U.S. Coast Guard, Lloyds’ and internal inspectors; inspections have been judged more than satisfactorily by the auditors of the different entities. In fact, the US Coast Guard inspection on the Carnival Glory held on May 27, 2012, once again yielded positive results.

The signs in your pictures are International Maritime Organization approved “Emergency Signs” and we are required to display them as they are. These are the same signs that have been used for years aboard ships worldwide. The signs compliment [sic] the verbal instruction provided by our team members positioned in corridors, stairways, and at the actual Muster stations. In an emergency, the signage is structured in a way that following them, as well as, the emergency low level lights, would direct you to the Muster stations.

Naturally, any safety concern is of paramount importance to us. We want to assure you that we have reviewed yours in great detail and find that your Safety Briefing was conducted according to our procedures. Our number one priority is to ensure we provide all our guests a fun, memorable, and safe vacation.

And Bob’s your uncle. No guest survey was distributed on my sailing to ask about anything, or I would have aired my concerns there.

I had to laugh at the explanation for the signs. NO WAY could anyone find muster stations from all parts of the ship by those arrows — by emergency low-level lighting, no less.

Also, signs listing all stations on one whole side of the ship (A,C,E,G) are too vague. I was assigned to station A, and saw people assigned to station G (roughly 800-850 ft. away?) who followed the same signs and ended up at the WRONG END of the ship.

Carnival didn’t address the fact that each muster station must potentially accommodate 500+ people. Nor the absence of green fluorescent caps. Nor the inadequacy of the lifejacket demo.

Carnival seems to rely on an assumption that passengers already know the drill. I guess we can only hope in Carnival’s next emergency at sea, the sloppy drill performance masks real training and skill at crowd control and saving lives.

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2 Responses to Carnival Responds to Lifeboat Drill Concerns

  1. Jon G. says:

    Actually, the Lettered muster stations such as yours AECG are for PASSENGERS ONLY. Crew have their own muster stations. On that particular class of ship, those muster stations are located FORWARD on decks FOUR FIVE and SIX. What you are unaware of is that “Deck 4 forward” is a crew only area. (Most of those have a single pool or two hottubs for crew enjoyment) Passengers have no access to those areas. In the event of an actual emergency, crew assemble in their own designated areas.

    The crewmembers you saw manning the guest stations are Cruise Staff, Pursers Dept, Dancers and sometimes Spa staff due to the majority of these staff speaking English as a primary language (note: Majority, not ALL) You may at one time or another see cooks, barmen, maintenance workers and the like manning these areas as these crew are trained in the operation, preparation and launching of the Life Boats and Rafts.

    When crew assigned to the guest muster stations dont show up for these drills they are actually penalized. Crew are given an instruction by the Cruise Director (who handles the announcements as yes sometimes the Italians can be quite hard to understand)

    Guests are assigned to life boats with a few crew to assist. The rest of the crew are assigned to life RAFTS.

    Be careful what you report on as you being the guest only get to see only a PORTION of these demonstrations. And before anyone attempts to tell me I am wrong, I have worked on numerous ships across three brands: Carnival, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean.

    And the international signal of a vessel in distress is SEVEN SHORT AND ONE LONG BLAST. It is possible in all reasoning that the Glory’s system may have malfunctioned. Their signals are no different form the rest of the fleet. I’m not sure why you heard 5 short, one long pause one long and one short. You may have heard the abandon ship signal, which in actuality is a seperate signal altogether. Only given after the original muster signal (7 short 1 long) has been given and ONLY when it has been decided by the captain that it is safer to abandon the vessel rather than stay on board.

  2. catsworking says:

    Welcome, Jon. Thank you for the information on muster drills. I’ve been on 38 cruises (the majority on NCL), so I’m familiar with the routine. I also realize that the crew have their own procedures for abandoning ship and their own recreational areas on a ship.

    This is an old post and I didn’t go back and reread it, but I reported the situation exactly as I observed it. The muster drill on Carnival Glory was a joke, right down to the botched blasts of the ship’s horn.

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