TPG Editors’ Choice Award for innovation by a cruise company: Royal Caribbean Group’s eMuster

Dec 16, 2020

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Cruise Week banner for the 2020 TPG Awards

Royal Caribbean Group, the world’s second largest cruise company, is known as the great innovator of the cruise industry. It’s been the pioneer of everything from interior mall areas on cruise ships to such gee-whiz deck-top attractions as outdoor water theaters and surfing simulators.

So perhaps it should come as no surprise that the parent company of Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Silversea and Azamara is behind what may be the biggest innovation in cruising in years: A new system to greatly shorten and simplify the safety drill process.

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Called eMuster, it’s not as sexy an innovation as robot bartenders in cruise ship bars or skydiving attractions atop cruise ships — two more things that Royal Caribbean Group pioneered. But it’s perhaps more significant to the overall experience of passengers at sea.

It is for this reason that we’ve decided to give Royal Caribbean Group a special Editors’ Choice Award this year for the development of eMuster, as part of Cruise Week in our annual TPG Awards. We’re calling it The Innovation in Cruising Award.

The new eMuster system will let passengers complete most of the safety drill that is held at the start of every cruise on a mobile device or interactive cabin TV instead of in a big, crowded, unwieldy muster station.

Related: The ultimate guide to Royal Caribbean

Under the new system, passengers will review all the same information as they did before, including details on what to expect and where to go in case of an emergency, and instructions on how to properly use a life jacket. But instead of doing so in a group setting, they’ll do it on their own in the hours leading up to departure.

After reviewing the safety information on a mobile device or cabin TV, passengers will complete the drill by visiting their assigned assembly station, where a crew member will verify that all steps have been completed and answer questions.

Every passenger still will be required to complete the safety drill process before departure, as required by international maritime law.

Royal Caribbean Group is calling the new process Muster 2.0.

Related: How to book a cruise with points and miles 

royal Caribbean eMuster
Passengers on Royal Caribbean Group ships will be able to review safety information on a mobile device or interactive cabin television. (Image courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

Royal Caribbean Group began working on the new technology long before the coronavirus outbreak began. But its development is an elegant solution to one of the biggest hurdles to bringing cruising back in this new era of coronavirus-related safety measures: How to keep passengers socially distanced during safety drills.

On a typical cruise, the safety drill is one of the times when passengers are in the closest proximity to each other, as every single passenger must assemble in a limited number of spaces.

Royal Caribbean Group said it worked with international regulators — including the U.S. Coast Guard — to ensure the new process met all safety requirements.

Related: A guide to Royal Caribbean’s loyalty program 

The company has patented or is in the process of patenting the eMuster technology in countries around the world and plans to license it to other lines. But it’s waiving licensing fees during the coronavirus pandemic so other brands can use it free of charge. It already has granted a license for such use to Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, the parent company of Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

The technology already has debuted on the ships of German line TUI Cruises, which resumed limited cruising out of German ports in July. Royal Caribbean owns part of TUI Cruises through a joint venture.

So if you dread the typical safety drill prior to a cruise’s departure, you may find that your next sailing gets off to a much better start — and it’s for this reason that we’re honoring Royal Caribbean Group’s eMuster technology with this year’s Innovation in Cruising Award.

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Featured image courtesy of Royal Caribbean Group

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