That certainly didn’t last long.
Just two months after making a major change in the way it handles security briefings, Norwegian Cruise Line is reversing course.
In a statement sent to TPG on Tuesday, the world’s fourth-largest cruise line said that – effective April 1 – it will reinstate the “e-muster” safety training process it had until the end of January.
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The e-collector security training process involves passengers reviewing security information electronically on their smartphones or cabin televisions on the day of boarding, combined with a quick in-person visit to their collection stations.
It was replaced at the end of January by a personal muster drill process, where all safety information is relayed to passengers simultaneously in a ship-wide call at muster stations.
In its statement to TPG, Norwegian cited “an effort to improve the guest experience on board” as the impetus for the sudden return to electronic muster safety drills at the start of the cruise.
Norway faced considerable criticism from fans after changing the process of their build-up training in January. Many travelers prefer electronic check-in drills to in-person check-in drills on ships, seeing them as less intrusive.
Related: Norwegian Cruise Line’s 8 ship classes explained
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The withdrawal of the change to the crowding exercise may be embarrassing for Norwegian, as she initially cited “the safety of our guests and crew” as the reason for her departure from electronic crowding in January.
In the opposite direction, Norwegian could be seen as a step back in what it considers a safety improvement.
“The safety of our guests and crew members is our number one priority,” was the specific wording of Norwegian’s statement in January after it eliminated electronic collection. “We are constantly evaluating our procedures for providing detailed instructions on safety and security measures to our guests, and as such have made the decision to reinstate synchronized, in-person drills on the day of departure on all ships within the fleet. “
Norwegian also cited “guest and crew safety,” using the same wording, in its statement on why it was switching back to electronic collection.
“In an effort to improve the guest experience on board while keeping the safety of our guests and crew our top priority, we will be reinstating electronic muster drills through our online check-in for cruises beginning April 1, 2023, ” said the statement. We are committed to providing an exceptional and safe onboard experience and, as such, will continue to actively evaluate and modify our processes for best practices.”
Over the past few years, many cruise lines have switched from in-person boarding exercises to electronic boarding, calling it a major improvement for passenger comfort while also a better way to conduct safety briefings from a security perspective.
In addition to Norwegian, two of the brand’s sister lines – Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises – eliminated e-mustering in recent months. Disney Cruise Line also recently eliminated e-mustering. However, most cruise lines continue to offer e-mustering.
The world’s two biggest cruise brands, Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Line, both said in January that they would not follow Norwegian in moving away from e-mustering. Both lines suggested it was an innovation in recent years that increased passenger safety.
In a statement sent to TPG in January, Carnival suggested that lines eliminating electronic crowding on ships were doing so not for safety reasons, but to cut costs. The line noted that providing e-muster security drills instead of in-person security drills requires more staff.
Cruise lines that use e-mustering must station crew members at muster stations for several hours on the first day of a cruise so passengers can visit the stations for a brief orientation—a requirement of e-mustering. The result is that a significant number of crew members are tied up on the day of embarkation with the electronic muster process.
Related: The Ultimate Guide to Norwegian Cruise Line
“E-muster requires more personnel resources,” Carnival noted in its statement to TPG. “But our experience with the e-collection process has been extremely positive and we are able to provide our guests with critical safety information in a more individualized way, including letting them know exactly where their collection station is and how to get there.”
In other words, Carnival saw the electronic collection process as more secure than the old style of in-person collection.
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