I've been on two cruises now. The first one, on Norwegian in 2004, was my favorite. Great food, fun entertainment, decent cabin, good service. It also contained an emergency escape practice session. It took place a couple of hours after setting sail. We had to get on our life jackets, walk up to the deck with the life boats, and stand in rows at our assigned muster station, where we would go if there was an emergency and we had to abandon ship. We stood there for maybe 10-15 minutes. The crew member assigned to our group of 20 or so went over some safety information, I'm not sure exactly what, and they took roll to make sure we were all there. I found it a bit annoying. We were just settling into our room and getting ready for dinner when the drill took place, and interrupting our cruise for this safety measure cramped my style.
Last year we took our second cruise, aboard the Celebrity Century. A few hours after setting sail we were asked to go to the lounge with about 100 of our fellow passengers. No life vests, just us. We sat and chatted with the people at our cocktail table for a while. Then the single crew member assigned to the lounge went over some safety information, unimpressive enough that I don't even recall what was said. But I know for sure we were never shown our muster station. I had no idea the route to the life boats or which one we were assigned to. And no roll call was done. After a few minutes, we went back to our room. It made me a little uneasy that they had done such a poor job at the emergency drill, but I remember thinking that since we wouldn't likely need that information, I was glad that we hadn't been forced to put on our life jackets and stand out on the deck.
In light of the recent events, where a trained, licensed, experienced captain can run a titanic-sized cruise ship into the ground, a few hundred feet from a rocky shore, despite state of the art navigation equipment, putting the lives of 4000 people in danger, and then fail to sound the alarm for over an hour while people already abandoned ship, and then leave the ship himself, giving no care for the safety of his passengers, I now amend my opinion of safety drills. By all means, I now say, drill me! Put me in my life vest and let me tie it on properly, show me my life-boat up close and personal, let me feel it's smooth hull, check off my name, explain everything in detail. Because even though I will hopefully never need that information in my life, just as I count the rows to the exit on my airplane, every single time, I want to be prepared for the worst.
And thank you, Norwegian, for caring about our lives enough to inconvenience us. Hopefully, from now on, all the other cruise lines will care that much too.