The phrase “cruise ship inspection” may bring to mind rows of uniformed crew members standing at attention for review by their captain: however, a cruise ship inspection is something quite different.
It’s a detailed check of a ship’s ability a ship to provide you with a travel experience that safeguards your health and well-being, conducted by inspectors from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Cruise lines place primary importance on protecting your health while you’re on board, as well as the health of your fellow guests and the crew members who serve you. They follow numerous and strict regulations designed to assure cleanliness, disinfection and food safety.
Cruise ships that operate from U.S. ports must follow the rules and regulations of the CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program, or VSP. This program helps prevent illnesses from being introduced to a ship; if an illness does come on board, the program helps to keep it from spreading. VSP inspectors conduct random, unannounced inspections, so ships must always be prepared.
[su_note note_color=”#afd1e2″]In addition to these official CDC inspections, Cruise Specialists has opportunities to inspect ships as well.
Our inspections focus on ship features – staterooms, restaurants, spas, theaters, pool decks, etc. – and the type of cruise experience they’ll provide. That’s part of how our team offers you insider knowledge of popular ships![/su_note]
Here’s more detail on the cruise ship safety inspections conducted by the CDC:
How often are ships inspected?
Twice a year. Ships that sail outside the U.S. for an extended period may not receive two inspections each year, but are inspected as soon as they return to the U.S. Ships do not receive any advance notice of inspections.
Who performs the inspections?
A team of qualified inspectors from the Vessel Sanitation Program of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There may be one to four inspectors, depending on the size of the ship. Each inspection takes five to eight hours to complete.
What do they inspect?
- Medical facilities, including medical logs and documentation of surveillance for gastrointestinal illness
- Water supply, including disinfection and distribution processes
- Pools and spas, including filtration and disinfection systems, general maintenance and safety
- Food provisioning, storage, preparation and service areas, including evaluation of employee health and personal hygiene
- Child care centers, including diaper changing stations, toilets, hand washing stations, disinfection systems, and infection control procedures
- Staterooms, including cleaning and infection control procedures
- Ventilation systems, including air handling systems
- Common areas of the ship, including pest management measures
What happens after the inspection?
The cruise line is required to correct any and all violations of the Vessel Sanitation Program. Some violations can or must be corrected immediately, while others may take place within a reasonable amount of time. If necessary, VSP inspectors have the authority to keep a ship in port until serious violations are corrected.
What’s considered to be a passing score?
To pass an inspection, a ship must receive a score of 85 points or higher. Each inspection begins with a score of 100; points are deducted for any violations of Vessel Sanitation Program criteria.
Has a ship ever received a perfect score?
Yes, many ship inspections result in a perfect score of 100!
Can I see current cruise ship inspection scores?
Yes, scores are posted on the Vessel Sanitation Program’s website.
Do other countries have cruise ship inspection programs?
Yes, there are similar programs in Canada, Brazil and throughout the European Union.
Is there anything I can do to make sure I stay healthy on a cruise?
Absolutely! Follow the same common-sense practices that can help you stay healthy all the time:
- Wash your hands often
- Drink plenty of water to keep yourself well-hydrated
- Don’t overindulge in food or alcohol (delicious as it may be)
- Get enough rest, which will help your immune system (if you stay up late dancing, make time for a nap the next day)
Finally, if you don’t feel well during a cruise, talk with the ship’s medical staff and follow their recommendations. Chances are that you’ll feel shipshape again in no time.