New app could help cruise lines keep passengers socially distant during safety drills

Cruise lines continue making big changes, trying to re-emerge as a COVID-conscious vacation option.

So, about the lifeboat drills? Well, now there's an app for that.

A group of promotional screenshots shows a brand new technology called Muster 2.0.

It could be a game-changer in the COVID world.

Royal Caribbean is the first to use this, but travel agents predict the rest of the cruise lines will follow suit.

The interactive tutorials are done on your mobile device and they replace the in-person safety briefings and the lifeboat practice.

The reason for the digital transition is simple.

Those drills, they’re called “muster drills,” involve big crowds in tight spaces.

Screenshot of Muster 2.0 app.

Those happen before the voyages begin, but now they can happen before stepping foot on the boat.

Shane Lawrence is a travel agent and owner of Imagine Travel.

“Oh, there’s nothing worse than the Muster drill. In fact, some people try to hide in their rooms or hide on their balcony and, of course, the crew has to check every room to make sure everyone’s out. And then you’re crammed shoulder-to-shoulder waiting for them to honk the horn a couple times and tell you where you’re supposed to go. So, getting rid of the Muster drill is going to guarantee social distancing," Lawrence said.

Another measure that Royal Caribbean is unveiling is a team of experts called the Healthy Sail Panel.

While the cruise line isn't operating out of American ports, the panel is coming up with a list of best practices.

When the companies do set sail again, they’ll have criteria written by a former secretary of health, a former FDA commissioner and some renowned doctors.

“And since the sailings have been suspended for so long, they’ve got a lot of time to really put this stuff in order, so the very first cruise that goes out should be as safe as anything,” Lawrence said.

Here’s another development for the cruise industry: The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is asking for public comment.

If you have an idea for how a cruise can be a safer or healthier experience, the CDC wants to hear from you.

The comment period is open until Sept. 21.