Plan A for life rafts is to inflate them on a crane at the promenade deck,fill them with crew / pax, and lower them to the water.
Plan B is to push the uninflated raft enclosures overboard. Once they hit the water, they inflate automatically. Survivors get into the rafts any way they can.
Plan C is a hydrostatic latch that causes the rafts to automatically release and inflate when the ship sinks.
The chute system relies on an engineer operating a mechanism that moves a large metal box at a 90 degree angle over the side of the ship.
The chute and 3 large life rafts are released down to the water.The rafts inflate and are tied to the end of the chute. Crew / pax must jump into the chute, and slide down about 70 feet to the life rafts below. The ship must be nearly vertical ot allow this to work.
Someone in the raft catches each person coming down, and transfers them to one of the other rafts.
Do you ever read the capacity numbers stenciled on the outside of the tender boats and life rafts?
Typically the numbers for life boats are between 150 and 250; life rafts are rated for 60 to 90.
Then look around next time you are tendered ashore. That tender boat - as a life saving craft - is rated to hold 150 people. But with the enormous size of many of today's cruise passengers, we are rarely able to squeeze more than 75 of them into a tender boat. There is no way - under any circumstances - that we will be able to fit 150 of them into a life boat in a real emergency. We might be able to jam 100 large bodies into those boats. But where are we going to put the other 50 people assigned to the boat???
You can complain about the dangers of smoking all you want - and I agree with you.
But more pressing is the need to put cruise passengers on a serious diet to allow us to save their lives when the next ship is sinking.