The Oceania-operated Insignia failed its last sanitation inspection conducted by United States Public Health (“USPH”) inspectors on December 17, 2018, according to a crew member who wishes to stay anonymous.

The USPH reportedly gave the cruise ship a failing score of only 80, after the sanitation agency inspected the ship in Miami over a month ago. The crew member stated that the Insignia:

” . . .  failed USPH on December 17 in Miami with only 80 points which is a failure on the ship sanitation, food preparation and poor galley cleansing.  All crew, staff and officers was strictly told not to inform anyone since this could damage the company 5 star image.”

Today. the CDC published the report indicating that the Insignia in fact received a failing score of 80. You can read the report here. The report indicates that numerous food-contact surface areas on the ship were heavily soiled and  dusty and dirty; refrigerator units were not built to food equipment standards; and there were flies and other pests found in food service areas.  Potentially hazardous food items were stored and prepared at improper temperatures. Potable water bunkering was not properly tested for pH or halogen and the testing equipment was out of order.

Oceania has still not issues a corrective action report indicating that it has corrected the sanitation deficiencies.

Before this failed sanitation inspection, the Insignia was last inspected by the USPH in August of 2018 when it received a passing score of 98.

The USPH conducts sanitary inspection twice a year on cruise ships which call on U.S. ports. The Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is intended to monitor the cruise ship industry to “prevent and control the introduction, transmission, and spread of gastrointestinal (GI) illnesses on cruise ships.” A sanitation inspector can deduct points for dirty conditions in the galley or when food handlers work while ill, among other issues. An inspection score of 100 is considered perfect (although the inspector can still find some shortcomings); 85 or lower is considered a failing score.

Oceania markets the Insignia as a luxury cruise ship, with a capacity of 684 passengers (lower berths) or 824 passengers (all berths), with a crew of around 400.

The last cruise ship operated by Oceania to fail a USPH inspection was the Regatta in April of 2017 when it received a score of 84. In an article by TheStreet titled the 14 Worst Cruise Ships on the CDC’s Sanitary Inspection List, the Regatta was selected as one of the worst cruise ships from a sanitation perspective for lying to an inspector about a filthy espresso machine labeled “spare parts only;” the CDC report detailed “all of the very obvious evidence that this machine was in current use, starting with the wet grounds in the tray and ending with a small fly was in this area.”

The last luxury cruise ship to fail a USPH inspection was Silversea Cruises’ Silver Wind cruise ship in March of 2018. Among numerous other violations, USPH inspectors located food items and food service equipment hidden in crew member lockers inside a changing room near an engine and air conditioning unit. The Silver Wind received a score of 79.

Five and one-half years ago, Silversea Cruises was also caught ordering its crew members to hide perishable food in crew quarters aboard the Silver Shadow. In July of 2013, CNN aired a special program about the “hide and seek” games which crew members were ordered to play on the Silver Shadow cruise ship, where the ship routinely hid trolleys of food items in crew members cabins to avoid detection by USPH inspectors. We covered the story in our article Silver Shadow Fails Sanitation Inspection After Caught Hiding Filthy Conditions from Health Inspectors. You can watch a video about the cover-up aired by CNN here. The USPH issued a score of only 82 after that inspection

In 2015, two years after the disastrous 2013 inspection, the Silver Shadow failed again, with a score of only 82.

The Insignia‘s current score is lower than all of the failing scores received by the Silver Shadow and just a point higher than the Silver Wind‘s disastrous score earlier last year.

The Insignia received a score of 100 in July of 2017 and consistently received passing scores in the range of 88-98 with most scores in the 90’s for the past several years.  But the dirty galley conditions and failing sanitation score may result in some type of retaliation against those responsible for the supervision of the ship’s food and beverage department.

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Photo credit: By Ivan T. -CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

  • Dave B

    Wow, Insignia received a score of 98 (almost perfect!) on the prior inspection in August 2018. I guess the fluctuation in scores speaks to just how thorough the USPH inspectors are, that’s a great thing, it should give you comfort when traveling that cruise ships are being held to the highest of standards! The standards are actually almost a little too strict, they were dinged because a sink had twist knobs instead of motion activated faucets, lol come on guys, really!