Ship's low score in health inspection prompts Silversea action

By Tom Stieghorst
Silversea Cruises is hoping that it has done enough to mitigate an error by the galley crew aboard one of its ships so that its image as one of the world's elite cruise lines won't be tarnished.

While in Alaska in June, the line's Silver Shadow ship received an unscheduled semiannual inspection from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

The ship was given an "unsatisfactory" grade of 82 on a scale of 1 to 100 after inspectors concluded there was an organized effort to hide food and kitchen utensils in the cabins of galley stewards during the inspection.

A report on the inspection said up to 15 trolleys of food and equipment were bundled out of the galley and into cabins, where items were stored on the deck, under beds and in other unsuitable places.

Such a response is highly unusual at any cruise line, much less one positioned at the top of the industry's ultraluxury segment.

"At Silversea Cruises we pride ourselves on providing the best quality services to our guests," the company said in a statement. "The inspection … on the Silver Shadow on June 17, documenting an unusually low score, has given the company great cause for concern."

A follow-up inspection is scheduled for sometime this month, Silversea said. The ship continues to sail, as is standard procedure.

The Silver Shadow had never before failed a U.S. Public Health Service inspection, passing 19 consecutive exams dating back to 2000. In fact, no Silversea Cruises ship had ever been graded unsatisfactory in exams that stretch back to 1996, according to a health service database.

The episode on the Silver Shadow prompted a response on several fronts from Silversea to reassure customers and fix the mistakes.

Silversea said it launched an investigation, using an outside sanitation consultant who traveled aboard the ship to help its food and beverage managers work through every aspect of the report.

According to the investigation, the inspection occurred at the end of breakfast when pots, pans and utensils were on work stations and food from the coolers as well as items to return to the galleys were on trolleys.

"It is clear that when the galley staff heard that inspectors were onboard, instead of continuing their work in the understanding that they were in the middle of a meal service, they tried to quickly remove all trolleys and any items not in the fridges and place them in cabins out of the way," Silversea said.

"It goes without saying that such practices are against company policy and should not have happened," a statement from Silversea CEO Enzo Visone said.

Silversea said the individuals responsible for the incident have been fired or resigned.

It has further counseled all food handlers and supervisors, butlers, cooks, waiters and bar staff on the ship that no food is ever permitted in cabins or nondesignated areas.

The line's executive chef has spent a month onboard the Silver Shadow retraining the galley workers.

At the ship's next drydock, a closed-circuit TV system will be installed in corridors to be sure no foodstuffs are brought into crew accommodations in the future.

Finally, Silversea said it has created an anonymous call system where any staff member can report failings of procedures to senior managers without fear of reprisals.
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