A muster drill or lifeboat drill is required by the Coast Guard within 24 hours of sailing on a cruise. Most cruise lines will do this drill just prior to sailing. In some cases, you will be required to don your life jacket and report to your muster station. Muster stations are usually noted on the back side of your cabin door and there will also be signage in the halls. On some cruise lines, you will not need to wear your life jacket. They have found that more accidents happen when people have their life jackets with them for the drill. The nice part about this is after the drill you don’t have to return back to your room to get rid of your life jacket. If you are required to wear your life jacket, the crew will request that you keep your life jacket on until you get back to your room. This is for safety reasons.
During the drill you will not be able to use the elevators. The exception to this will be for disabled folks who cannot use the stairs. During an actual emergency, crew members will carry folks needing assistance to their lifeboat stations.
Roll calls are taken at the muster drills as it is a requirement that everyone onboard attend. This doesn’t take very long, but can be very important. The crew will sound the alarm that you would hear in a real emergency. They will show you how to put on your life jackets. The Cruise Director or other officer will then tell you what to expect in a real emergency.
The muster drills are usually held on the deck where the loading of the lifeboats would occur. Some people will be outside on the open decks for their muster station while others may be in restaurants or theaters.