Cruise Ship Pot Wash - USPHThere are certain things you learn from crew members once they become your client. No matter whether the ship employees are from Jamaica, Serbia or India, or whether the crew members are employed by Carnival, Princess or Royal Caribbean, they all tell similar stories of "ship life."

Crew members regularly tell us that they work in excess of 12 hours a day but are prohibited from recording the actual hours they work. Waiters can’t record their time spent showing up before meals to prepare their work stations, or attending meetings, or performing "side jobs."  Once they have worked their maximum hours, they have to log out and then keep performing tasks such as polishing the silverware. Cruise lines don’t like paying overtime and the supervisor will get in trouble by the department heads if there is money spent on overtime wages for the crew. 

We also hear the same stories over and over from ship employees around the world about the tremendous amount of effort they spend trying to get the cruise ships ready for United States Public Health ("USPH") Inspections.   USPH inspections in theory are suppose to be unannounced, but in reality they are rarely a surprise.  Cruise lines routinely hire people in a supervisory position from federal agencies like the USPHS, FBI and Coast Guard. In turn, their friends in the federal government often give the cruise lines a head’s up when the ship will be met by a team of USPH inspectors.

When a USPH inspection is about to happen, the food and beverage workers will literally work 18 to 24 hours on the days right before the cruise ship arrives in the port where the inspection will take place. There are certain types of baking pans and sheets used everyday for frying greasy food which are extremely difficult to get clean and probably won’t pass inspection. There are hundreds of these pot Cruise Ship USPH Inspectionand pans which the crew try and clean in the pot wash room (top photo) but it’s difficult to get them all spotless. So what happens is that the galley cleaners are instructed to rack the pans and sheets in large trolleys and then hide the trolleys down in the crew quarters.

When the USPH inspection is truly a surprise, crew members tell us that there is often a mad scramble to dump everything dirty into boxes and cartons and then stash the stuff in crew members cabins and corridors on the bottom crew-only area on the bottom deck.

One crew members just sent me photos (right) taken of this practice. This was on the MSC Poesia during a USPH inspection in March 2011.

A bad USPH score is a kiss of death for a cruise ship F&B department head and his supervisors. Ships cut corners to pass inspection. 

When the U.S. inspectors leave the ship, the dirty pans, plates, cups and kitchen equipment are returned to the galley.  The ship cooks then get busy cooking for the next round of 3,000 passengers. 

Read the comments to the question "Do cruise ships hide dirty pot & pans from USPH inspectors?" on our facebook page. 


Photo credit:

Top –

Bottom – Anonymous

  • steven romm

    Island Princess on Alaska cruise this past september had Norovirus outbreak. Nothing was kept clean, no alcohol cleaners for hands, and no public announcement until the night before we docked. The food was terrible, everything tasted the same, servers never wore gloves, and the buffet was self serve until the “outbreak announcement. CDC claimed that no one got sick till the end of the cruise, but we have documented letters that only a few days after departure people were getting ill. There was also a complete cover up of the outbreak, and total denial that the Canadian government was notified, which meant that at least 2% of the passengers and crew were sick. Never take a cruise on Princess, and it is owned by Carnival Cruises, a well kept secret.

  • Former Silversea Crew

    Silversea Shadow do just the same, hidden trolleys in deck 3 full of food, pastas ect. before usph inspection.they top up bottles of empty San pellegrino water with culligan water as they aren’t aloud to go over budget, even if the ship is full. This suppost be a 6 star cruiseline.

  • silversea crew

    Everything stated above is true. I am a former crew member onboard silver Shadow and what happens on that ship goes over every imagination. Public and crew health is really at risk there, and recently we’ve had some cases of food intoxication among the crew. The funny is that they consider themselves as a 6 stars deluxe cruise, and the guests pay thousands dollars for a cruise, but only who is onboard knows what’s hidden behind the scenes.
    During USPH inspections I personally sleeped in my cabin with vegetables raw meat and salami with no windows and a/c out of order… and the day after they used to serve to the guests. And the crew cabins were most of the times infested by flies as the toilet flush is most of the times out of order.
    But the inspectors ignore all this, they only came to check the kitchen, that we emptied the night before

    We also were threatened by the Hotel Director in the way that if the ship get a lower rate from inspection, some of the cooks would have been fired randomly

  • silversea mv/silvershadow crew

    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 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.

  • Lin Xue Ya

    Those galley stewards in the picture above look miserable.