Harry Sommer | Bill Panoff

Norwegian on Electronic Muster Drills: Still Looking at Other Options

When Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and Royal Caribbean Group entered into a collaboration they called the Healthy Sail Panel, their goal was to make cruising safer for everyone’s benefit. With the guidance of numerous health experts, the panel is already making changes to the way cruise ships operate. One of the most prominent changes announced by Royal Caribbean Group was to get rid of the traditional muster drill, a dull staple of every cruise vacation.

Now, guests review safety information electronically via their smart devices or their stateroom television, eliminating the need for a large gathering of people. The idea was widely praised on social media as a smart change with little to no disruption of the guest experience. 

President Sommer joined Porthole Cruise Magazine founder and Editor-in-Chief Bill Panoff earlier this week to discuss the collaboration and to explain more about the future of his cruise line. 

If we can do something that involves social distancing and makes the experience better for the guests, wow that’s a win-win. 

When asked about the new electronic muster drill designed by Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line President Harry Sommer explained that they were discussing the best ways to go forward, but that in all likelihood, they would do something similar.

“Don’t just think about mustering,” Sommer continued. “There are a few points in the cruise, let’s call them pain points, one’s embarkation, one’s mustering, lining up at guest services to ask questions, and we look at these spots and say, okay, what can we do to make the experience safer and better for the guests.” 

Cruise lines are always looking for ways to enhance the guest experience and Norwegian is using this pandemic as such an opportunity. Even when the threat of COVID-19 is a thing of the past, there’s a good chance we see some of these changes like electronic mustering remain in effect in the future as a more efficient and effective way to do get things done. 

Cruise Return Timeline 

The question being asked over and over is when things are going to get back to normal? Sommer was asked when cruise lines do get the green light to sail once again, how long it would take NCL to get back up and running? He seemed confident that it would be sooner rather than later. 

Sommer went on to explain that staggering the start time of the fleet’s return helps things out from a logistical standpoint. The cruise line made a concerted effort repatriating their crew around the world and there are plenty of experienced staff available to sail immediately.

One of the biggest issues facing a return to cruising is the no-sail order issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.What started as a 30-day cruise stoppage has morphed into months of uncertainty about when cruise ships can sail again. Until it happens, Harry Sommer’s cruise line will continue looking at every option to shore up their health and safety protocols. 

What questions do you have about cruising coming back? Let us know in the comments! Watch the full interview below: