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.

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.

A passenger on a cruise ship visiting Alaska last week had the measles, according to health officials at the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, prompting concerns that other cruise passengers as well as air travelers may spread the virus.

The Juneau Empire newspaper reports that a teenager from Japan boarded the Norwegian Jewel cruise ship on August 6, 2018 for an Alaskan cruise, after flying from Tokyo to Vancouver a week earlier.

The cruise guest reportedly sailed aboard the Jewel which docked in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Glacier Bay before the cruise ended in Seward, Alaska.

The newspaper states that before the cruise, the girl experienced a rash, fever and cold-like symptoms after she travelled to  Thailand. She apparently had not been vaccinated for measles, mumps, or rubella.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reportedly warned health care providers to look out for measles-like symptoms (rashes, runny noses, fevers, white spots and/or red eyes) from other passengers who may have contracted the disease.

The initial news accounts did not identify the cruise ship or cruise line with some accounts, like Radio Canada, mentioning only that an unnamed ship operated by Norwegian Cruise Line was involved.

The cruise passenger had flown to and from Portland before she went on the cruise from Vancouver.

Health officials stated that they believe the girl boarded the cruise ship with her parents on the fourth day after her symptoms began, which suggests that she was not highly contagious. The disease apparently has an incubation period of 7-21 days. Anyone who may have contracted the virus is expected to show symptoms before August 27th.

The Centre for Disease Control in British Columbia noted that measles is a highly infectious airborne disease, although transmission is reportedly unlikely.

Four years ago, a crew member aboard an unidentified cruise ship sailing to Alaska developed measles leading to concern that he may have infected cruise passengers.  A cruise passenger contacted us, indicating that she and other passengers aboard the Norwegian Pearl may have been exposed to the virus.

Earlier, a measles outbreak has occurred on the Costa Pacifica cruise ship; an Italian newspaper reported that that dozens of cruise passengers were probably infected with the virus that causes measles.

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Photo credit: By A.jo Public Domain, commons / wikimedia.

Silver Shadow The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting that there is a gastrointestinal outbreak on the Silver Shadow operated by the Silversea Cruises company.

The CDC reports that 28 of 327 (8.56%) of the passengers suffered from vomiting and diarrhea and other GI symptoms and reported being ill during the cruise, which took place between May 10th and today (May 24, 2018). 8 of 290 crew members reported ill with such GI symptoms during the cruise.

The CDC has not been able to determine the causative agent (norovirus, E. coli, etc.for the outbreak.

This is the fifth GI outbreak this year on a cruise ship meeting the threshold requirements of the CDC. The CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) is required to post a report when 3% or more of passengers or crew report symptoms of gastrointestinal illness to the ship’s medical staff. The medical staff of a cruise ship must send the reports to the CDC within 15 days of arriving at a U.S. port.  

The Silver Shadow failed a CDC inspection back in 2013 in a heavily publicized case when crew members were ordered to hide food and galley equipment in the cruise ship’s crew quarters. The Silver Shadow failed another CDC inspection in 2015.  The Silver Shadow passed four CDC inspections since 2015 (with scores ranging from 95 to as high as 100) and there is no indication of a correlation between the past failed CDC inspections and the current GI outbreak on this cruise ship. (The Silver Wind, on the other hand, recently failed a CDC inspection, in May of this year, with a score of only 79).

The Silver Shadow is currently at the end of a two week cruise which started in Tokyo, Japan on May 10th. The ship has called on a number of other ports in Japan (Aomori, Hakodate, and Kushiro) and Petropavlovsk, Russia before arriving at various ports in Alaska, including Seward where it stopped this morning. 

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Photo credit: Bahnfrend – CC BY-SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia.

May 25, 2018 Update: Here is a statement from Silversea Cruises:

Monaco; May 25, 2018

GI cases on Silver Shadow

“Following a number of passengers and crew reporting gastrointestinal symptoms to the medical staff on board the Silver Shadow the vessel registered these cases with the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in line with standard procedures.

Over the period May10-24, 28 out of 327 passengers and 8 out of 290 crew members reported GI symptoms to the ship’s Doctor during the cruise from Japan to Alaska with a call at the Russian Port of Petropavlosk.

The ship’s Doctor kept in regular contact with the CDC Officer during the passage to Seward Cruise Port, Alaska, where the Silversea Head of Fleet Operations, together with a CDC Officer joined the vessel to review all sanitation procedures and confirmed that the ship’s Management were following all the correct procedures. No further cases of GI of symptoms have been reported and the vessel has been cleared to continue cruising. All passengers are currently recovering.”

May 28, 2018 Update: Here is another statement from Silversea:

Monaco; 28th May 2018

“In its latest US Public Health/ CDC Inspection in Juneau on May 26, cruise ship “Silver Shadow” scored 93 out of a possible 100 points. This outcome, reflecting the company’s high standards, is the result of the work done by the ship’s management and staff in dealing with an occurrence of gastrointestinal symptoms reported to the USPH/CDC in line with standard procedures prior to the ship’s arrival in Seward, Alaska following a cruise from Japan.

Over the period May 10-24, 28 out of 327 passengers and 8 out of 290 crew members reported GI symptoms to the ship’s medical staff.

The ship’s Doctor kept in regular contact with the CDC Officer during the passage to Seward Cruise Port, Alaska, where the Silversea Head of Fleet Operations, together with a CDC Officer joined the vessel to review all sanitation procedures and confirmed that the ship’s Management were following all the correct procedures. No further cases of GI of symptoms have been reported and all passengers have recovered”

Silversea Cruises’ Silver Wind cruise ship recently failed a sanitation inspection by United States Public Health (USPH) inspectors, in March.

On March 18, 2018, the USPH inspected the Silver Wind in San Juan and found numerous unsanitary violations. Repeated problems were noted in the ship’s potable water treatment. Inspectors located over two dozen flies in the galley, food preparation and dish washing areas. (This seems to be some type of record; it certainly is the most flies I have ever seen recorded in a cruise ship sanitation inspection report).

Inspectors located food items and food service equipment hidden in crew member lockers inside a changing room near an engine and air conditioning unit.

You can locate the report, read about other unsanitary conditions and the corrective action report by searching for Silver Wind here.

Five years ago, in 2013, Silversea Cruises was caught ordering its crew members to hide perishable food in crew quarters aboard the Silver Shadow. 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 sanitation inspectors.

Our blog was the first to cover the story in our article Silver Shadow Fails Sanitation Inspection After Caught Hiding Filthy Conditions from Health Inspectors.

Silversea engaged in an intentional, calculated scheme to hide food and galley equipment in the crew cabins. Crew members on the cruise ship alerted our firm that they (galley workers) were being ordered by their supervisors to take trolleys of perishable foods (eggs, fish & cheese) to the crew quarters and hide the food from inspectors during bi-annual CDC inspections. We advised the “whistle-blower” crew members to notify the CDC. As a result of a surprise inspection, the CDC discovered that the cruise line hid “over 15 full trolleys” of food and food equipment, pans, dishware and utensils in “over 10 individual cabins” in order to avoid scrutiny of vessel sanitation inspectors. It flunked the Silversea ship with a score of 82.

You can see photos of the cruise line’s practices on our Facebook page here.

You can watch the CNN video here.

But Silversea didn’t learn its lesson.  In 2015, two years after the disastrous Silver Shadow inspection, the Silver Shadow failed again, with a score of only 82.

Its current score of 79 is even lower than its failed scores back in 2013 and 2015.  It is only one point higher than the recent failed score of the infamous Kydon ferry, operated by Ferries Del Caribe, which received scores of 78 (May 2018) following even more pitiful scores of 61 (December 2017) and 58 (July 2017). The Silver Wind and the Kydon are the only two cruise ships to have received failing USPH scores so far in 2018.

It should be embarrassing for a high-brow Silversea cruise ship like the Silver Wind to fall into the ranks of an old tub of a ferry like the Kydon.

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May 15, 2018 Update Silversea issued the following statement today regarding the inspection:

Silver Wind’ March 18 Inspection Report

On March 18, 2018 Silversea’s ‘Silver Wind’ received an atypical score of 79 during an inspection by the US Dept of Health CDC in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This score compared with the score of 93 out of 100 achieved some 2 months earlier on January 6, 2018, caused the Company to initiate an immediate investigation into the result.

Following the investigation, it was established that a small number of staff had not followed the robust standards expected of Silversea employees. The Company, therefore, undertook a vigorous training and re-training programme related to the relevant issues on-board its cruise vessels which are at the heart of its service to all passengers.

All Silversea ships have comprehensive and rigorous training programs in place to make certain its staff and crew implement best onboard practices. The company has taken measures ensuring that future inspections on this vessel result in higher scores in line with the usual Silversea standards and achieved on all its vessels. The most recent CDC scores on Silversea vessels were Silver Spirit 99, Silver Muse 97, Silver Shadow 95, Silver Explorer 90. Silver Wind has consistently achieved very good scores in all previous inspections.

Photo credit: eGuide Travel – Flickr: Silver Wind, CC BY 2.0, commons / wikimedia.

Oasis of the SeasThe Oasis of the Seas passed today’s sanitation inspection by federal inspectors from the United States Public Health (USPH) Department. 

The USPH inspectors inspected the Oasis for sanitation as part of the Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP).  

The Oasis was last inspected on September 3, 2017 and passed with a score of 97

Today the Oasis received a passing score pf 95. The inspection score has not appeared yet on the official VSP/CDC inspection database. A crew member who wishes to remain anonymous provided this information. 

Port Canaveral has been a tough place for cruise ships to pass USPH inspections. A number of Carnival cruise ships have recently failed. Several cruise ships operated by Royal Caribbean have also barely passed USPH inspections, such as the Allure of the Seas and the Grandeur of the Seas.

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Photo credit: @PA via Daily Mail

Carnival Cruise Lines has been in the news lately with four of its cruise ships failing sanitation inspections in the last two months and a total of five ships failing USPH inspections in the last year.

The Carnival Vista (79), Carnival Breeze (77), Carnival Triumph (78), and the Carnival Liberty (80) all recently failed USPH inspections, The Carnival Paradise (83) also failed the VSP inspection last year. Last year also saw the Carnival Conquest (89), Carnival Dream (87), Carnival Fantasy (88) and Carnival Imagination (89) receiving very low sanitation scores. This year, the Carnival Vista received a low score of only 88 during its re-inspection (although the CDC has still not officially posted the score on its data base yet), following its disastrous score of 79 in December 2017 where USPH inspectors caught Carnival hiding food and galley equipment in crew member cabins.

You can see all of the most recently published USPH sanitation scores in the CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Programs’ (VSP) “Green Sheet” (warning the CDC often delays the publishing of sanitation scores online).

Grandeur of the SeasBut Carnival is not the only cruise line suffering from failing or low sanitation scores.

In the last month, two Royal Caribbean cruise ships have received scores barely above the failing score of 85. The Grandeur of the Seas received a score of 87 in an inspection which took place on January 5, 2018 which was only recently published. There were deductions for various unsanitary conditions as well as heavily corroded and difficult-to-clean steel counters in the galleys of the ship which you can read here.

Several major newspaper reported that several dozens of passengers were sickened with gastrointestinal sicknesses on the Grandeur earlier last month.

Some people may point out that the Grandeur (photo right) is an older ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet, having come into service well over 20 years ago and showing obvious signs of external rust and lack of maintenance. But the Allure is obviously a newer and arguably better maintained ship.

But the recent USPH report involving the Allure of the Seas shows that it received a barely-passing score of only 86. The acute gastroenteritis (AGE) logs indicated that a Royal Caribbean food handler who was symptomatic with acute gastroenteritis symptoms returned to work before the completion of the mandatory 48 hour isolation period. A second crew member exhibited acute gastroenteritis symptoms continued to eat meals in the crew mess and did not report to the ship infirmary until over two days later. Another crew member who was symptomatic with AGE symptoms proceeded to eat in crew mess and attend a work meeting, and reported to the ship’s medical department only later.

Even more disturbing is that the USPH inspectors found the following:

“Seat cushions had storage under them in the Windjammer and decks 3, 4, and 5 of the main dining room. These storage areas were heavily soiled with debris, had raw wood, and were located above carpet and/or concrete decks. In these areas, the inspection team found: two closed gallon bottles of Allure of the Seasdrinking water, several bags of neatly folded and bagged linen napkins, a bucket full of silverware, a box of gloves and wiping cloths, wrapped salad stands, several bottles of kitchen degreaser, chlorine bleach, biogel, wet plastic containers, and a large bag with dozens of serving utensils. These were also found along with brooms, dust pans, vacuum cleaners, and other nonfood equipment.”

This sounds like a crew member or crew members tried to hide cleaning materials along with napkins, eating and serving utensils in obviously improper locations which were described as heavily soiled area in the Windjammer Cafe and main dining room. It is difficult to believe that the USPH did not fail the ship for this intentional type of unsanitary conduct. The purpose of USPH cruise ship inspections is to prevent the spread of shipboard disease outbreaks.

Perhaps coincidentally (or not), in December of 2017, Royal Caribbean notified its oncoming passengers that “some guests onboard experienced gastrointestinal illness. In an abundance of caution, we are conducting enhanced sanitizing onboard the ship and within the cruise terminal to help prevent any illness from affecting your cruise.”

The questions arises why so many cruise ships operated by both Carnival and Royal Caribbean are receiving low and sometimes failing sanitation scores. Crew members hiding food or eating utensils  and working while ill are hardly new. Are USPH inspectors more vigorously inspecting the ships? Or this the result of too much work and too few crew members who are responsible for cleaning the ship, as some people say?

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In 2015, I publsihed an article about the “hide and seek” games played on the Liberty fo the Seas in Did Royal Caribbean Dupe USPH Inspectors? On our Facebook page, I asked: Do cruise lines hide pots & pans, galley equipment and food from USPH Inspectors? A. Yes. B. No.  The overwhelming response was yes.

Photo credit: Grandeur of the Seas (in Miami) and Allure of the Seas (in Jamaica) – Jim Walker.

After miserably failing the December 2, 2017 sanitation inspection by the United States Public Health (USPH) last month, the USPH re-inspected the Carnival Vista today at the port of Miami. The Carnival cruise ship passed the re-inspection with a score of only 88, three points above the failing score of 85.

The December 2nd sanitation inspection found that Carnival Vista crew members were caught hiding perishable food and galley equipment in crew quarters. The report stated that "an organized effort was made to physically move several containers and trolleys of food equipment, utensils, spices, potentially hazardous food items, raw produce, and decorations to a crew cabin hallway and a crew cabin in order to avoid inspection by VSP staff."

Last month, the USPH sanitation inspection resulted in a failing score of only 79.

The USPH concluded that crew members moved trolleys filled with lexan boxes of perishable food and galley equipment in order to hide the items from the inspectors. Included on the trolleys were lexan boxes filled with butter, buttermilk, whipping cream, raw salmon, raw lamb and other meats. Inspectors discovered a skillet of lasagna near a crew member bed. Mixed with this food in the lexan boxes were galley machine equipment and batteries, among other items. Flies were found in some food containers.

In addition, the inspectors found incomplete and/or inaccurate acute gastrointeritis logs, soiled lexan boxes and galley equipment, incorrect time control labels, and raw meat and fish contaminating salad items. 

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) delayed from December 2, 2017 until January 16, 2018 – a period of six weeks – before publishing the failed score and disclosing the intentional misconduct by Carnival to the public.   

The re-inspection score of only 88 is one of the lowest scores, without failing, of a ship operated by a major cruise line in the past year. Unfortunately, the CDC does not have the leadership to punish Carnival for its deliberate wrongdoing, such as ordering the Vista cruise ship not to sail.

The re-inspection today found more unsanitary conditions, to be officially disclosed by the CDC to the public at some time in the future. 

The Vista is one of four Carnival cruise ships to have failed the inspection by the Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) in the last four months, including the Carnival Breeze (77), Carnival Triumph (78), and the Carnival Liberty (80). The Carnival Paradise (83) also failed the VSP inspection last year.

A crew member who wishes to remain anonymous sent us the draft report today.

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CDC Sanitation Draft Report Carnival Vista

 

  

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.

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.

Market Watch just published a comprehensive article, by reporter Jacob Passy, titled Record Number Carnival Libertyof Cruise Ships Failed Health and Safety Inspections in 2017, concluding that there were 14 instances where a cruise ship failed a sanitation inspection last year.  The article found that  Carnival Cruise Line cruise ships received five failing grades, in addition to one one failure this year.

Carnival claims that its food handling and preparation are of the "highest quality, which seems questionable regarding the details of the scores like on the Carnival Breeze (77), Carnival Triumph (78), Carnival Vista (79), Carnival Legend (83), and Carnival Paradise (83). The Carnival Liberty failed this year with a score of only 83.  

The Carnival Vista was re-inspected yesterday and receive a score of only 88, a passing but not a good score coming off of such a spectacular failure last year.  The CDC has not published the re-inspection score yet.

Carnival also claims that it "immediately" corrected the unsanitary conditions found by the inspectors. (Carnival ships failed inspections 4 times in the last 2 months). But the truth is that Carnival has still not even filed a "corrective actions" report for the Carnival Vista which failed the USPH inspection last year. The report found that not only did Carnival try to intentionally hide food and dirty galley equipment in crew quarters, but the the USPH noted that a Carnival supervisor disciplined a food handler who was experiencing acute gastrointestinal virus symptoms when he did not report to work.

The VSP requires cruise lines to correct the non-conforming conditions and file a "corrective report" promptly after the violation. The Vista failed its inspection over six weeks ago, but Carnival has still not filed a corrective report as of today’s date, January 27, 2018. 

Market Watch state that the CDC can advise a ship not to sail if "particularly egregious violations are uncovered," which may be true in theory but never occurs in reality. It’s difficult to imagine more egregious violations than what the USPH found on the Vista last month, but there is no evidence that the cruise line has even bothered to file a report admitting to its violations and outlining its corrective actions. 

Part of this problem is that there is often a cozy relationship between federal inspectors and cruise line officials where unsanitary conditions are sometimes not noted or enforced. Indeed, it took over a month for the CDC to even publish the failed inspections on the Carnival Breeze and Carnival Heath Inspection - ClosedTriumph last month on its official website. 

A shore-side restaurant with a failed health inspection will quickly find a "closed due to health inspection" placard (photo right) taped on its front door. For health violations on cruise ships, however, the public has to search the online database, which is often not current, for information. 

A cruise ship which is caught intentionally hiding food and galley equipment in its crew quarters, or which does not timely submit a corrective report, should be barred from sailing.  A local shore-side restaurant would be shut down in a minute for such unsanitary conditions. But the USPH often bends to the cruise line’s the-show-must-go-on mentality. 

Market Watch interviewed cruise expert cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein who noted that a failed CDC inspection is all the more questionable when looking at the details of the reports for cruise ships that have actually passed inspections. According to Dr. Klein, “you can get 100% but there can still be a number of citations for things that were not up to standards."

Market Watch wrote that one ship which received a 100% score was cited for storing boxes of fruit juice near raw egg shells and for one crew member was working while showing symptoms of gastroenteritis.

Dr. Klein also noted that the Vessel Sanitation Program applies only to cruise ships calling on U.S. ports. Few countries outside of the U.S. inspect cruise ships for sanitation problems.

Which cruise ships which flunked the USPH sanitation inspections last year? See the list below:

  • Carnival Breeze (77);
  • Carnival Legend (83);
  • Carnival Paradise (83);
  • Carnival Triumph (78);
  • Carnival Vista (79);
  • Ferries Del Caribe Kydon (55, 61);
  • Japan Cruise Line’s Pacific Venus (76); 
  • Japan Grace Line’s Ocean Dream (82);
  • Oceania Regatta (84); 
  • Paradise Cruise Line’s Grand Celebration (84);
  • Ponant’s Le Boreal (84);
  • Princess Cruises Crown Princess (84); and
  • Victory I Partners, Ltd.’s Victory 1 (78);

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Photo credit: Carnival Liberty – Workman – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia.

Carnival Liberty Another Carnival cruise ship officially failed a recent sanitation inspection today.

I first learned that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) finally published the failed score for the Carnival Liberty upon reading the Miami Herald’s article written by Chabeli Herrera titled Another Carnival cruise was caught with dirty conditions. That makes four in two months.

I first learned that the Liberty failed the sanitation inspection by the United States Public Health (USPH) on January 6, 2018 when a crew member notified me of the failure of the inspection which took place on two days earlier, on January 4th. 

This is the fourth failed USPH inspection in under two months, following the failed inspections of the Carnival Breeze (77 score), Carnival Triumph (78 score) and the spectacular failure of the Carnival Vista (79 score) where crew members were caught hiding food and galley equipment in crew members quarters from USPH inspectors.  

The official report of the failed inspection of the Liberty (with a score of only 80), which can be retrieved here, reveals that the Liberty failed the inspection for all of the reasons which a cruise line could possibly fail such an inspection – soiled galley surfaces, dirty equipment, files in the galley’s food preparation areas, dirty plates with food residue, broken dish and pot washers, improper food temperature systems, contaminated foods, corroded ovens, lack of sneeze guards, improper (low) temperatures of dishwashers, improper sanitation standards for whirlpools, and a sick crew member who continued to work although he was experiencing acute gastroenteritis (AGE) symptoms.

As we have mentioned before, it is difficult to understand why the CDC fails to timely publish the failed scores of its USPH sanitation inspection of the Carnival ships. It has been three weeks since the Carnival Liberty failed the inspection and the CDC finally published the failed score only today.  Carnival has not still bothered to prepare a "corrective action" report as required by the Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP). 

The CDC is supposed to protect the public from disease and infections due to unsanitary inspections but it does not timely publish its reports nor demand compliance by Carnival with the VSP requirements. 

As I have stated in prior articles regarding the recent rash of guests going over the rails of its cruise  ships, Carnival has a reputation as providing affordable "fun ships" for the masses. But, in truth, it is a recalcitrant cruise line that has a history of non-compliance with the few U.S. laws which apply to the foreign-flagged cruise industry. In the last year, it was been fined $40,000,000 for lying to the U.S. Coast Guard regarding the widespread oil pollution from its fleet of cruise ships. More recently, the Carnival Vista was caught engaging in deceitful conduct of trying to hide food and galley equipment   from USPH sanitation inspectors. It’s the one cruise line which refuses to hire lifeguards, when other lines (Disney, Royal Caribbean and NCL) have finally done so. So perhaps it’s no surprise, when it come to the issue of its guests going overboard, that Carnival refuses to implement automatic man overboard technology ever since the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA) went into effect.

Does the U.S. federal government have to assign permanent sanitation inspectors to prevent the ship managers from ordering crew members from trying to hide food and unsanitary equipment from the USPH? After the Carnival Vista was caught trying to play hide and seek from USPH employees, the question was how many other Carnival ships routinely engaged in this sneaky practice? Should VSP representatives treat Carnival like the U.S, Department of Justice (DOJ) has done by placing it on probation for years with routine audits of its ships?

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Photo credit:  Workman – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia.