Monday, February 13, 2012


Out of curiosity, I thought I would check out how a couple of the cruise ships with recent Norovirus outbreaks have done under the U.S. Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) inspections (see previous post for what this is). Well...surprise..both the Ruby Princess and the Crown Princess - scored 100 during their last inspections

The Ruby Princess has an average VSP inspection score of 99 over the years, with a range of 94 to 100. During the latest inspection - in November, 2011 - when the ship scored 100, the inspectors actually found 27 infractions of vessel sanitation according to the report. Here are four random examples (they are not necessarily the worst).

• A badly scored white cutting board was observed at the soiled side of the dishwash station in one of the galleys..

• A live fruit fly was seen flying inside the cold counter display container at the crew officer mess.

• There were serious delays in reporting gastrointestinal illness among crew which could result in spread of illness. For instance, a crew dishwasher experienced gastrointestinal illness symptom onset at 5 am and only reported to the medical center at 4:30 pm. A crew member in video experienced gastrointestinal illness symptom onset 7 am and only reported to the medical center at 8 am on the following day.

• There was no procedure in the written for notifying embarking passengers following an outbreak voyage.

The Crown Princess has an average inspection score of 97, with a range from 89 to 100 over the years. During the latest inspection, also in November, 2011, when it also scored 100, some 33 infractions of good sanitation practices were listed. Here are a few examples.

• There was no 'WASH HANDS AFTER USING TOILET' sign in the restroom used byfood workers.

• None of the staff in the food preparation areas were equipped with tip-sensitive food thermometers.

• The door tracks of both food transportation lifts were soiled with an accumulation of debris.

• The safety signs for the swimming pools did not include: 'do not use these facilities if experiencing diarrhea, vomiting or fever', 'shower before entering the facility', or the bather load number. The safety sign at the children's pool did not have the above information or 'take children on frequent bathroom breaks or take children on frequent toilet breaks'. The safety signs for the whirlpools did not include the information required for the swimming pools above or a caution against pregnant women, elderly persons, or exceeding 15 minutes of exposure.

Alright, I have to acknowledge that these were not huge issues - not at the level of the water on board not being potable or the food refrigeration not working (as was the case with a couple of other ships that failed inspection), but, the sanitation on board either ship wasn't great either. As events showed, they probably should not have scored 100.

To your good health,



Anonymous said...

Agreed. But trying to keep everything perfect when you have 3,000+ people jammed into a small space is challenging. I think you just have to play the percentages.

Serge said...

I think that those warning signs you've mentioned should be posted not just for sanitation purposes, but for the benefit of everyone who would use those amenities as well for a friendly reminder.