Silver Shadow Fails Sanitation Inspection After Caught Hiding Filthy Conditions from Health Inspectors

Last December, I wrote an article about the practice of certain cruise lines which hide dirty pots & pans and cooking equipment from U.S. health inspectors. The article, which focused on the MSC Poesia, is entitled "Hide & Seek" - Cruise Lines Play Games With USPH Inspectors.

After I published that article, several former crew members from Silversea Cruises left comments alleging that the Silver Shadow also played "hide and seek," concealing food and galley items in crew hallways and cabins, away from the sanitation inspectors in the galley.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) conducted a surprise inspection of the Silver Shadow on June 17th while it was in a port in Skagway, Alaska. The inspectors found the food and galley equipment in crew quarters as described by the former Silversea ship employees.  The CDC flunked the cruise line, issuing a score of 84. 

Silversea Silver Shadow Sanitation CDCThe inspection occurred after former Silversea Cruises' crew members contacted our office and, in turn, complained to the CDC about disgusting conditions aboard the Silver Shadow cruise ship.

The crew members complained that the cruise line forced the crew to hide food, cooking utensils, cutlery, and pots and pans in their cabins to avoid detection by U.S. health inspectors.

Crew members aboard the Silver Shadow allege that were forced to store raw meat, salami, fish, cakes, and every kind of culinary preparations in their cabins and remote hallways to avoid inspections by the U.S. Public Health (USPH). The crew members claim that they had to sleep with the food and galley items in cabins with no windows or operational air conditioning. According to crew members, some spoilable food items were kept out of the refrigerator in cabins and hallways but were served the following day to the cruise passengers. 

Other complaints included the alleged use of out-of-date ingredients which were served to the guests, according to the former crew members. The crew also complained that they were forced to Silversea Silver Shadow Cruise Shiphide food infested by flies and insects in cabins where the toilet flush was out of order for days.

We received photographs (above and below) from the crew members which they state were also sent to the CDC. You can see additional photographs on our Facebook page.  

An epidemiologist at the CDC thanked the crew members for the information, writing: "The pictures and information you provided were very accurate and reflected what was seen and experienced by the inspectors yesterday on the ship . . . Thank you for passing along all of this information and protecting the health of passengers and crew on the ship. We appreciate your help!"  

Although the failed inspection occurred one month ago, the CDC has still not posted the failed score or its report of the inspection on its internet site.  

Silversea Cruises holds itself out to the public as a premiere "ultra-luxury" cruise line and charges correspondingly high fares to its cruise passengers.

One former crew member stated that the crew on the Silver Shadow were forced to use tap water to top off expensive bottled water.  

These claims are similar to the allegations in a lawsuit filed by a Silversea crew member (aboard the Silver Spirit and Silver Wind) in 2011 that his employment as a bartender was terminated after he complained that crew members were required to fill expensive, premium top-shelf brand liquor bottles with cheaper brands and to fill empty expensive French champagne bottles with cheaper Italian sparkling wines. The case is Marin Asenov v. Silversea Cruises, Ltd., Case No. 0:11 CV 62360 WJZ. You can read the allegations in the lawsuit here

The Silver Shadow cruise ship has always scored high on the CDC's Vessel Sanitation Program. Its scores have ranged from 92 to 99 (out of 100) since 2000.  

This latest news brings into question whether the Silver Shadow's high scores over the years may have been a result of the cruise line playing hide and seek with the sanitation inspectors at the USPH.

We reached out to Silversea Cruises and asked for the cruise line's comments about the failed inspection. We have not received a response. 

Have a thought about this issue? Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.  

July 17, 2013 Update: Silversea Cruises just issued this PR statement which was posted on the Cruise Critic site:

Silversea Cruises Statement

On June 17, Silversea’s Silver Shadow received an atypical score of 84 during the Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) inspection in Skagway. Silver Shadow has scored in the high 90s on its previous VSP inspections where the maximum achievable score is 100. Silversea is deeply disappointed by this specific and only unsatisfactory score and has taken immediate measures to address the issues identified in the inspection report.

The company takes very seriously its responsibility to maintain the highest standards in all areas of its operations. Silversea has an excellent track record when it comes to sanitation, which can be verified on the CDC's website. Silversea ships have achieved perfect scores of 100 on several VSP inspections, including Silver Spirit's most recent inspection in April, which is testament to the company's commitment in this area.

Following a thorough review of Silver Shadow's procedures, we have taken the necessary measures to ensure that the standards are the best in the industry. All Silversea ships have comprehensive policies and rigorous training programs in place to make certain its staff and crew implement best practices to ensure shipboard safety. Silversea is sincerely sorry for the shortcomings in Silver Shadow's evaluation and is committed to ensuring that future inspections result in higher scores in line with the usual Silversea standards.

Saul Fonseca | Area Sales Director

July 21, 2013 Update:  Read our article:

How Many Cruise Lines Play Games with USPH Inspectors? 

And don't miss the results of our Facebook poll: Do cruise lines hide pots & pans, galley equipment and food from USPH inspectors?

Of the first 100 crew members who answered the poll (admittedly unscientific), around 90% said yes, cruise lines hide galley items from inspectors. One crew member said: "There will be more equipment in the crew cabin during the inspection then in the galley that's for sure!!!" 

July 22, 2013 Update:  The CDC finally released its report on the failed Silver Shadow inspection. Here is our article.  You view the official CDC report, click here.

Silversea Silver Shadow CDC Vessel Sanitation Inspection

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Comments (17) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Jose Ferreol - July 15, 2013 4:41 PM

It is hard to understand, those were practices everyone used in the past, i worked for many years for Princess Cruise Lines, back in the early 90´s, we used to throw away food whenever a inspection was carried out, or in some cases hide it.

Of course the inspectors knew this, not because they were smart, but because they usually did not find any food in pantries and kitchens, they were all clean.

To Princess credit, it took years to change their practices and policies, to the point where crew members had in their DNA USPH policies, as much as possible.

This is common practice.... - July 15, 2013 4:48 PM

This is a very common practice at the cruise lines I work for. Management shore side knows it happens but as long as the ships can pull in a good score - nothing is said. there is just not enough man power for the sips to do what is properly required. I actually dcomplained to shore side, in wriiting, a few years ago about this practice on the Empress of the Seas. Nothing happened. To this day it still continues on all of the ships. The worst part is the "health inspectors" which are employees of the company know its happening, put it in their reports, but shore side still ignores this practice. The manager shoreside has been with company forever but doesnt want to rock the boat by making an issue of this well known practice. But USPH is just as much to blame because they know this is an industry wide problem. They know its happening because once the inspectors retire from USPH they become consultants for the cruise lines. These retired consultants sail with the ships for the week and really learn what is going on. The retired inspectors then spend time with the current USPH inspectors and discuss things happening on the ships. If USPH was serious about public health then they would sail with the ships for a week and see what really ahppens. They need to change their program to mimic the Ocean Rangers in Alaska, which actually sail with the ships for an extended period of time.

The cruise lines play games.... - July 15, 2013 5:21 PM

The cruise lines play games internally with their own inspectors. The cruise line I work for had inspectors who had worked on ships. They had great shipboard experience and knew the ins and outs of what happened onboard when no one was looking. The inspectirs worked with us to find solutios instaed of having a power trip ego. We had all time high scores with these two insoectors. They have been replaced with inspectors with ZERO ship board experience. These inspectors have no clue and seem to think they know everything. Ships are now failing left and right. We've never had such bad scores. The company needs to bring back inspectors that have a clue of what works and what doesnt work on ships instead of hiring employees with NO shipboard experience for a much lower salary. They can build the best and most innovative ships in the world but they have no clue of how to hire good employees with actual experience.

KR - July 16, 2013 11:36 AM

WOW. this is scary. My favorite cruise line.
1st off ALL inspections should be unannounced and surprise visits, not scheduled. that would solve alot.
Am I just naive, but do ships not have enuf refrigerators or freezers? are they ordering too much and scared to run out of a dish? keeping too much inventory? dirty pots and dishes is just inexcusable and stupid. common practice, OMG.

Jose Ferreol - July 16, 2013 7:03 PM

It is a whole different game when you work with USPH or enviromental officers with shipboard experience, they totally understand where you are coming from.

The biggest challenge, at least on Princess is that they keep looking for the cheapest cruise force they can find, as long as they speak a little bit of English, then they are given to the supervisors to teach over the course of their contract, who then pass them to peers to teach them because they are busy as it is.

Not every company is like RCCL where you are given 30 days of training before you are asigned to your job onboard, Princess Cruises on joining day, they take your passport away, give you a blue card and hope for the best

Travel Dude - July 17, 2013 2:01 PM

Funny how Canadian Inspectors haven't even looked at this ship in 2013.

Mary Jones - July 18, 2013 11:51 AM

Having spent a wonderful holiday aboard Silver Whisper last Deceember and having already booked for this December I find it hard to believe some of the comments posted above. Obviously I cannot speak for the Shadow, but every bottle of wine or Champagne we saw was uncorked in front of us so cannot understand how cheap wine could have been put in other bottles. The crew were excellent and obviously happy. Our experience of Silver Seas has been nothing but wonderful and I cannot help wondering if some of the comments are due to grudges by former employees as, unfortunately you get with all businesses. Hopefully Silver Shadow will get the same excellent scores as the other Silver Seas fleet in the near future.

silversea mv/silvershadow crew - July 20, 2013 12:41 PM

I'am so glad that something like this is finally public.i am also a former crew member of silversea.What i have lived in those days is out of this world.They concentrate on hiding trollys for the dayly parade of some serious incompetent people ,and they dont even think about our living conditions and daily broken toilets molded bath tub'and yellow pillows.trust me,i dont know how people can even think about to give 6 star to a ferry boat.thank god U.S.P.H.I would like to know if there is any lawyer available to talk about critical living conditions,.
What a shame.

Wayne Keys - July 21, 2013 7:51 AM

Some years ago I traveled on Silver Shadow and of the many cruises I have been fortunate to be on covering many different cruise lines, Silversea is the only line of those that I have been on that I have declared that I do not intend to ever sail on again.
Senior management on board consistently displayed an attitude of superiority towards the passengers which resulted in me rating the whole experience as 2* rather
than their advertised rating of considerably higher.
I am, therefore, not surprised to hear this latest story and I subscribe to the view that it has taken this long to expose long-standing dodgy practices.

Els - July 25, 2013 12:58 PM

I was part of the opening team on Silver Shadow in 2000 and worked for Silver Sea until 2005. We always had good rates for USPH and got training several times a month. I find this very hard to believe...

Jason Fraser - July 25, 2013 5:39 PM

i worked on the silver shadow, along with most of the other silversaeas vessels, as a pastry team member i was exposed to this so called illusive behaviour, when i was working with silverseas, we did put things in our cabins BUT only things we knew and understood did not meet the USPH useage standards, example bieng a non NSF stamped equiptment item, (knife, special pastry equiptment from europe or asia) where as these kitchen items were allowed to be used anywhere else in the world just not in america, most of us believed all the NSF products which are basically enforced, not suggested to use, were simply owned by one family member who happen to have a relative in the government who stipulated the laws.... in the years i work on siverseas vessels i NEVER EVER saw any food products stored in cabins in order to pass a USPH inspection,as a food professional in no way would we ever keep food and take a risk of giving someone food poisioning, if it were to happen the whole team would be onto the station involved, and not in a friendly way, because it disturbs every kitchen staff members reputation. finally i get to vent this out, during the period a vessel about to arrive in US waters the whole galley team are often working upto 24 hours a day or 20 hours a day to meet the USPH criteria, i remember having a problem with a UPSH inspector once, this super star got out a personal screwdriver and disassembled a bakery mixing machine, and even though i had cleaded it spotlessly, the inspector found a drop of water in a oil well INSIDE THE MACHINE, and removed 1 point off our score, i was furious because it was in a internal part of the mixer, which could never have ever been able to come in contact with food, everyone hates going to the US just for the inspections alone, atleast the australians dont ridicule or have a over inflated of sense of highrachy, after that week of 20 hour shifts i arrived in los angeles, i got food poisioning from a land based vendor (VERY WELL KNOWN FRANCHISE), i lost all respect for USPH from that moment on, if i may say, i'm of a firm belief that all these laws about santitation is/has only made people more vonerable to afflictions, specfically food allergies....
one of the USPH rules in which may not recall perfectly, is.......
working stations are to be washed rinsed and sanitized every 2 hours and left to air dry for 4 hours..... i have no idea what they think chefs do all day, but the bench will be washed, but certainly not left to "air dry" just stupid text like that which makes no sense in practicallity, yeah looks good in theary.

but continue to live in fear USPH inspectors, eventually you shouldnt mess with mother natures ways

Jason Fraser - July 25, 2013 8:39 PM

i worked on the silver shadow, along with most of the other silversaeas vessels, as a pastry team member i was exposed to this so called illusive behaviour, when i was working with silverseas, we did put things in our cabins BUT only things we knew and understood did not meet the USPH useage standards, example bieng a non NSF stamped equiptment item, (knife, special pastry equiptment from europe or asia) where as these kitchen items were allowed to be used anywhere else in the world just not in america, most of us believed all the NSF products which are basically enforced, not suggested to use, were simply owned by one family member who happen to have a relative in the government who stipulated the laws.... in the years i work on siverseas vessels i NEVER EVER saw any food products stored in cabins in order to pass a USPH inspection,as a food professional in no way would we ever keep food and take a risk of giving someone food poisioning, if it were to happen the whole team would be onto the station involved, and not in a friendly way, because it disturbs every kitchen staff members reputation. finally i get to vent this out, during the period a vessel about to arrive in US waters the whole galley team are often working upto 24 hours a day or 20 hours a day to meet the USPH criteria, i remember having a problem with a UPSH inspector once, this super star got out a personal screwdriver and disassembled a bakery mixing machine, and even though i had cleaded it spotlessly, the inspector found a drop of water in a oil well INSIDE THE MACHINE, and removed 1 point off our score, i was furious because it was in a internal part of the mixer, which could never have ever been able to come in contact with food, everyone hates going to the US just for the inspections alone, atleast the australians dont ridicule or have a over inflated of sense of highrachy, after that week of 20 hour shifts i arrived in los angeles, i got food poisioning from a land based vendor (VERY WELL KNOWN FRANCHISE), i lost all respect for USPH from that moment on, if i may say, i'm of a firm belief that all these laws about santitation is/has only made people more vonerable to afflictions, specfically food allergies....
one of the USPH rules in which may not recall perfectly, is.......
working stations are to be washed rinsed and sanitized every 2 hours and left to air dry for 4 hours..... i have no idea what they think chefs do all day, but the bench will be washed, but certainly not left to "air dry" just stupid text like that which makes no sense in practicallity, yeah looks good in theary.

but continue to live in fear USPH inspectors, eventually you shouldnt mess with mother natures ways

Susan Wildermuth - July 27, 2013 12:09 PM

I am scheduled to sail around Alaska on the Silver Shadow in August and am anxious about eating the food now after this surprise inspection. Should I cancel or go and hope they will have a better track record so soon after failing this inspection? Also, does anyone know if there have been any reports of food poisoning by customers or crew while on these cruises?

WMW - July 27, 2013 9:42 PM

The CDC unsatisfactory rating report of Silver Shadow identifies significant health issue problems, which likely didn't arise overnight. I am scheduled to be on Silver Shadow for a cruise beginning within two weeks. Not only am I concerned that my travel agent's "A rating" of Silver Shadow, which influenced me to choose Silver Shadow, may be based on inaccurate information, but also I am doubtful that there has been sufficient time for Silversea to take remedial action to fix Silver Shadow. Moreover, I do not find the Silversea Cruises PR response to the CDC report to be reassuring given the seriousness of the CDC findings. My travel agent has tried to obtain information from Silversea Cruises but has not received a response. This is my first cruise, and I was hoping that selecting Silver Shadow was a "no brainier." I don't know if I should try to cancel my booking. (I bought trip insurance. I am checking to see if it will cover a cancellation under these circumstances.). Any thoughts?

Peter - July 28, 2013 10:11 AM

After my Silver Shadow Alaska cruise at the end of May 2013 I expressed my disappointment at the food overall quality on some cruise review sites.
I was quickly told what I knew, that I was not in the majority view point.
If passengers could get used to expressing personal experience in a more accurate and less nervous way we would soon all know which companies are cutting back or cheating us.
During the cruise all appeared fine and the staff performance was good. From first to last meal however I was disappointed by menu and food served.
To give some faint praise the cabin service Pizza was very good.

crew of silversea - August 13, 2013 6:33 PM

I was with silversea for long time as employee and just wanna tell you that ,the inspectors found almost noyhing.it was only top of iceberg.The galley team never follows USPH Rules.Only when ship is in US Waters they hide everyting and do little cleaning but.All the Ex. Chefs do alots of things is not really healty for passengers.Like all the used butters from the tables they collect in dish wash area and Chefs use for cooking,this is happening on every silversea ships and the butters are not wrap sliced chunk of butter,someone eats half and other half goes to cooking.this is omly one example I give there more things.Al the out of date food and baverage goes to crew.specialy yogurts in crew messes all the ships all the yogurts are out of date.

arash parsi - August 7, 2014 4:03 PM

hi there. i,d like to know about ms DIANA from Bosnia. who was one of crow when silver came to B.N.d (Iran-Bandar Abbas)

tanks for attention and answer me

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