NCL’s Norwegian Breakaway failed a recent sanitation inspection conducted by the United States Public Health (USPH) inspectors in New Orleans, Lousianna.

The purpose of the Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is to assist the cruise ship industry to “prevent and control the introduction, transmission, and spread of gastrointestinal (GI) illnesses on cruise ships.” VSP operates under the authority of the U.S. Public Health Service Act.

The VSP applies only to cruise ships calling on U.S. ports. Few countries outside of the U.S. inspect cruise ships for sanitation problems.

USPH sanitation inspectors conduct inspections twice a year on cruise ships when they are in a U.S. port. The inspections are supposedly a surprise, although many crew members have stated that federal inspectors sometimes give advance notice of the inspections to the cruise ships. A score of 85 or below constitutes a failed sanitation score, and often leads to the firing of the shipboard Food & Beverage department heads and/or managers and always result in increased work by the shipboard employees.

On March 10, 2019, sanitation inspectors noted that NCL failed to follow up with ill crew members with acute gastroenteritis (AGE) on the Norwegian Breakaway; other violations included flies and fruit flies in several of the grills and bars; a pot wash area was heavily soiled with food debris and several galleys were dirty. You can read the USPH report here.

The Breakaway last received a score of 98 in April of last year. The cruise ship has averaged in the low 90’s over the course of the last six years since its maiden cruise. It received a score of 100 in June of 2015.

A year ago, Market Watch published a comprehensive article, by reporter Jacob Passy, titled Record Number of Cruise Ships Failed Health and Safety Inspections in 2017, concluding that there were 14 instances where a cruise ship failed a sanitation inspection that year. No NCL ships failed inspections in 2017. The article found that Carnival Cruise Line cruise ships received five failing grades, in addition to one failure in 2018.

Carnival claimed that its food handling and preparation are of the “highest quality,” which seemed questionable regarding the details of the scores in 2017 on the Carnival Breeze (77), Carnival Triumph (78), Carnival Vista (79), Carnival Legend (83), and Carnival Paradise (83). The Carnival Liberty failed in 2018 with a score of only 83.

The Breakaway has not yet submitted a Corrective Action Report in response to the failed score.

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Photo credit: Top – Norwegian Breakaway – Ad Meskens – CC BY-SA, 4.0, commons / wikimedia; bottom – draft USPH report – anonymous.