Trip Advisor: Cruise muster drills irritating, but for safety's sake pay attention

March 4, 2012 12:00 am

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Q: The recent Costa Concordia disaster made me think about the way I've seen some people behave during muster drills on other cruises I've taken. Some people carried the life vests for their kids because the kids complained about wearing them. Some had obviously been drinking for a couple of hours straight and could barely stand up. And others just talked through the whole thing, making it hard for me to hear. All of this is bad etiquette, but more important, it's a big safety issue. Have you seen this sort of thing, and what do you think?

A: One thing to remember -- the passengers on the Concordia hadn't even HAD a muster drill. So you can't blame the chaos and loss of life on that ship on passengers who didn't pay attention. In response to this, all major cruise lines have adopted a new policy that requires them to hold the muster drill before embarking from port.

Clearly, muster drills are not fun, especially if you're on a line that requires you to wear the life jackets and you have to carry a baby wearing its own life vest up or down a bunch of stairs. I have seen some of the behavior you mentioned at muster drills -- parents taking the life vests off their kids sooner than they should have, people on cell phones and, of course, the tipsy people.

I hope, though, that most people have heard about the Concordia and will take the drills more seriously now. And I hope the cruise lines will enforce the rules. As for what individual passengers can do, well, you can't make other people pay attention. But if passengers near you are being so loud you can't hear the drill instructions, speak up to a crew member.

Q: Should I take a baby-booster seat with me to Europe? We're taking our 2-year-old son, and we'll be eating out a lot. But from what I understand, most restaurants won't have a highchair.

A: I wouldn't bother. Instead, I would recommend you practice eating while holding your child or start training him to sit or kneel in a regular chair. It doesn't make for the most restful eating experience if you're used to being offered a highchair, but the last thing you need is yet another piece of baby gear to tote around.

Q: Could you ask people who see someone flying with a pet in a carrier that they shouldn't send their kids over to "say hi" without asking the pet's owner? I flew with my dog recently, and she was already scared. The kids only made matters worse.

A: Sure, but I hope you also said, "Sorry, but my dog is pretty scared right now and needs to be left alone," to the kids and their parents.

Q: If you have pets in your hotel room, should you tip housekeeping extra? We are relocating and will drive from our old home to our new one with our two cats. We will stop overnight in a pet-friendly hotel for the first time. Do we tip extra even if paying a "pet fee" on top of the regular room rate?

A: It depends on how much of a mess your cats make. If, when you leave, the room doesn't look or smell worse than it would have without the cats there, then I don't think you necessarily need to tip extra. If, however, your cats made an enormous mess, you should leave a bigger tip.

First Published 2012-03-03 23:24:03

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