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During your cruise, aside from all the treats and amenities you will be able to enjoy, you will likely experience something you’re not expected to be a part of, and that’s the crew drills.
Crew drills are conducted about once per week, and they are generally organized during one of the ports of call (not embarkation clearly). They are of great importance in keeping crew members properly trained in all procedures to be followed in case of a real emergency to save guests lives.
Crew members are assigned different kinds of duties during the drills, many of which are dependent on the employee’s working positions. The entire crew force is divided into teams with specific “jobs” to carry out, at different stages of the emergency drill. There’s also a number of crew members whose duties will simply be to await orders should assistance be needed in a particular place, according to the scenario being rehearsed.
Fire (and/or smoke) is one of the most common scenarios that will be practiced during drills. Some others include man overboard, snapping of mooring lines as Rene posted about recently, medical emergencies, bomb threats and damage to the ship’s hull.
While drills are conducted, per maritime law, each week, not every scenario is practiced each time, and some of them may only be rehearsed once in every couple of months.
During fire drills, all teams involved (including firefighters, medical, operational command and crowd management teams) will be deployed to the area assigned as affected, and while no real fire will EVER be in place, there are times when real smoke is used (or rather, some kind of un-harming vapor) so that the protocols can be practiced properly. Medical teams will often take care of injured “guests” (ie. crew members assigned to this duty) and even casualties. No water will be involved during drills, as it would mean a great deal of damage to carpets or property. REAL training for the use of fire fighting equipment will be carried out at a different time and only for selected crew members for those duties.
In addition to the fire scenario, the Safety Manager might have chosen to practice procedures for additional situations like man overboard, which involves lowering and releasing the rescue boat. Sorry but no crew member will actually be in the water for this, the boat will simply sail around in the proper manner without putting one of your crew as real risk for harm but still the drill provides a realistic training if the real thing does happen on your cruise.
One of the most “fun” scenarios is the bomb threat. The Safety Manager will, in most cases, hide a makeshift “bomb” somewhere in the ship, and upon the beginning of the drill, a phone call will be made with the threat. Whoever answers will have to ask the proper questions, and the search for the “bomb” will begin. Sometimes it’s found within the prearranged time period, sometimes it’s not. I bet you never knew this but we do drill for this to make sure you are safe on your cruise!
While guests will have no part in these types of drills, what you must be aware of is that there will be loud announcements, even inside rooms (so that you know to ignore the emergency alarms). The drills generally happen during the morning, but not too early, so that the most number of guests are already ashore and crew members are no longer on duty. Also, fire doors will be tested, limiting your ability to move around the ship for a few minutes, and in many cases (not always) elevators will be off limits while backup energy generators are tested. Other than that, you can pretty much go about your day, although you’re a lot more likely to have stepped off the ship onto an exciting port when all of this is happening.
Just know, often while you are enjoying a day onshore, we are working very hard to make sure if the worst ever happens that we are there to make sure you are safe onboard! – ThatGuy (onboard)
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