For an airplane to be certified they have to prove it can be cleared of staff and passengers in a certain amount of time(think it's 2 mins but don't remember exactly). I saw a video of them testing evacuation times on the largest passenger plane including lights out, smoke in the cabin and fake passengers.
I'm surprised ships don't have a similar requirement. A full size evacuation drill to prove seaworthiness of their system(say 45mins to clear the ship - Concordia started listing after 40mins for a time reference). Yes 8500 people is a lot to use in a test but some movies have had many more than that as extras so it would be certainly be a feasible option. Perhaps it's one of many reasons ships are not registered in the US.
According to the article Crew members would use the Viking Evacuation system (chute). Cruisers are assigned a lifeboat.
According to the comments in the article a crew member from Allure posted cruisers are assigned a lifeboat. A Princess crew member from the Grand class posted they have the Viking system also for crew members.
There is a video on youtube about MSC and their viking system and states it is for crew and cruisers.
This method seems to move alot more cruisers at a faster rate.
Let's hope no cruiser/crew ever has to enter a lifeboat or go down a chute.
From IHS Safety at Sea......
The first vessel, on which the new upgraded VEDC has been installed, is Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Breeze. It is an update of a system that Viking began developing in 2007 for Royal Caribbean International’s two new cruise ships, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas. Since the first delivery and introduction in 2009, Viking has continued to develop the VEDC system with new features, securing a higher capacity per system.
Viking now has more than 1,300 VEDC-related maritime evacuation systems in operation worldwide. This makes Viking the leading manufacture of chute systems for cruise lines.
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