That is quite the story. FWIW, when I go on a plane I actually do look to see which exits are closest to me, and I do keep my seatbelt fastened all the time.
And if I was instructed to put on a facemask I have seen the demonstration for putting it on yourself first, and then your child (or someone acting like a child) second.
In other words, I do pay attention. I also think there are two kinds of cruisers - the hysterical masses you just described, and the experienced cruisers who do already know where to find lifevests, and who do know that if there is a real muster drill that there will be crewmembers about every 30 feet telling you which way to go as long as you have your keycard (which denotes your muster station).
I was just on a ship and I noticed the info behind my door showed a crew staircase as the primary escape route. Having been in crew areas (like you) I took note that in a real emergency that was my fastest way to the lifeboats, even though during the drill I was instructed to walk a considerably longer distance to the passenger staircase (my cabin was fully forward, so you can guess how much closer the crew stairs were to me than the forward of two passenger elevator banks).
So, the cruise industry is about to really crack down on passengers when it comes to lifeboat drill. It certainly can't hurt. I just hope it actually helps.
But in the end I still have to say putting the focus on passengers to the point where you will put them off the ship with no refund if they miss a drill - even for a good reason - just hits me as displaced focus.
Passengers didn't cause the Concordia accident, the captain did. Panic broke out on Concordia because the captain didn't call "abandon ship" until it was already sinking. Not the passenger's fault. Abd there were people who had never been drilled at all who were causing most of the chaos. IN this case the people in question had already been drilled.
Personally, I have enough drill experience that I would most likely be the one helping people put on vests and directing them to their stations - ans mostly calming down the panicky ones - because I am as well trained as any crewmember. I think there are a lot of experienced cruisers like me.
But as someone pointed out in earlier posts - there have been other incidents, and in all of them where muster was called, the passengers assembled in an expeditious and orderly fashion - most of the more experienced cruisers are not idiots, they are intelligent people who know all about boat drills.