P&O OceanaA month ago, a crew member aboard the P&O Oceana notified me that the cruise ship failed a sanitation inspection by the enters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) while the ship was in port in Charleston, South Carolina.  Oceana received a score of 82; 85 or lower is considered a failure.

I have been checking the CDC’s online inspection scores since then. I have been asking the CDC when it will release its report on the Oceana.

The report was finally released today. You can read the report here. The report indicated that several back-flow prevention devices, to prevent the contamination of potable water, did not have test results and appeared not to be tested. The ship’s Riviera swimming pool and Crystal whirlpool did not have adequate levels of chlorinated and bromine, failed to have hair and lint strainers / filters and were not disinfected. The inspector closed the recreational water facilities on the ship.

The report also revealed that a food handler had an onset of Acute Gastroenteritis (AGE) and exhibited symptoms at 9:00 A.M. in the morning but did did not report to the medical center until 11:20 A.M. A review of the crew member’s work history indicated that this crew member worked, notwithstanding his illness, from 7:30 A.M. until 10:30 A.M.

The ship’s galley appeared dirty. There were comments like “the tile grout in this area was soiled and in disrepair.”  “The deck below under counter refrigerator . . . had a significant buildup of more than a week’s accumulation of food debris, dirt, equipment parts, and what appeared to be insect remains.” Food service equipment was broken or out of service and many operational ovens and ice-makers were overflowing their drip pans and/or leaking onto the floor.

Oceana has not prepared a “corrective action report” in response to the failed score, as required by the CDC.

In an era when cruise lines are quick to blame every single norovirus outbreak on the passengers, this CDC report provides an insight into how deficient water sanitation and disgusting food handling practices by a cruise line can jeopardize the health of the traveling public.

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April 4, 2016 Update: The CDC vessel sanitation inspectors inspected the P&O Oriana in February.  Although the cruise ship passed with a score of 90, there were several significant sanitation problems including dirty and out of service galley equipment.  Also food handlers working while ill with gastrointeritis: “A Chef de Partie experienced onset of GI symptoms on 20 January 2016 at 6:45 am. This crew member worked from 7 am to 11 am, took lunch at the crew mess, then returned to work from 1 pm to 5 pm. The chef reported his symptoms to the medical center at 6 pm.”   You can read the report here.

April 5, 2016 Update:  Cruise Law News was quoted today in the Southampton’s Daily  Echo and the U.K.’s Daily Mail.

Fortune magazine also covered the story, writing that it “raises questions about the industry’s squeaky-clean image, and indeed, that there may be more unreported cases that were either ignored or dismissed by the sickened passengers or the cruise lines themselves.”

April 6, 2016 Update:  FoxNews covers the story today – Health inspectors find cockroaches, ‘potentially hazardous’ food aboard two luxury cruise ships.  The Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) interjects the blame-the-passenger-wash-your-hands excuse but ignores the fact that crew members were handling food while contagious and the ship’s galley was found to be unsanitary and potentially hazardous to the guests’ health.

Photo credit: Piergiuliano Chesi, CC BY 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

  • tinikini

    The guilty dog always barks first. People in glass houses shouldn’t throw rocks. He who smelt it, dealt it. He who accuses, is the usually the guilty one. I could go on and on. Until you cover your own ass properly, you can not blame others.

    After almost 38 years of food service, I know what I am talking about. Never once have I had an outbreak in my store of ANY kind. There is no way these ships can clean well enough and regroup in the 10 to 12 hours in port. It is just not possible. Not enough crew, not enough time, and not enough management equals disaster. You can not cut corners when it comes to food safety and cleaning. It just doesn’t work that way.

    I applaud the people who have gotten off of these ships in the next port, they realize the disaster that is about to happen. Food born illnesses can kill the elderly and children. They obviously thought more of their lives than a vacation. So sad they were put in the position. It does not have to be like this. Follow the money trail, they don’t care about your lives….they care about the money.

    With ALL of the problems that the lines have had lately, why does anyone cruise anymore????

  • Mike

    I have worked on many cruise ships around the World some had excellent cleanliness records but some were extremely poor. The older ships in general have the biggest problems which is not surprising given the age of the facilities and equipment. Standards have improved greatly over the years and ships built in the last 5 years have by far the better record for cleanliness and hygiene. Unfortunately too older ships tend to be put on less prestigious routes with lower passenger costs and are consequently less profitable and the budget for maintainance far lower. This is when problems will occur. Pay top dollar on new ships and in the main there will be no problem but go on budget cruises on older ships and there is a far greater risk. Crew know very well the problems but can be targeted by ship companies for making adverse public comments and may not be re employed.

  • Thomas Hill

    I was unfortunate enough to catch norovirus on a cruise last year aboard the Boadicia
    Ship Fred Olson lines.
    In two weeks time I am joining the Oceana for an eight day cruise. Needless to say
    rather concerned on reading the above reports.
    Have they managed to deep clean and overcome and rectify the hygiene problems?

  • Dorothy Keen

    Please can you let me know the current situation regarding hygiene and cleanliness in Oceana, P and O.?We do not wish to travel on this ship in August if those disgusting conditions prevail.

  • Alan Potts

    My two friends and I returned from a one week cruise on Oceana on Wednesday 15th June 2016, I spent two days confined to the cabin suffering sickness and diarrhoea, which I believe was caused by poorly cooked food served in the self service buffet. Not an experience we would wish to repeat and we will probably never cruise again.

  • Dorothy Keen

    Please answer my question on the present state of hygiene on P & O s Oceana. Surely we cannot be expected to travel if passengers are still being confined to cabins because of sickness??In April this ship had been put on notice to clean up, with a further spot check planned. What is the current state of play on the Oceana, it’s cleanliness & hygiene stan dards?

    I expect a reply this time. Thank you.D. Keen