With 25 ships in its fleet, Carnival Cruise Line hosts federal sanitary inspectors on an almost weekly basis, and most of its ships get a clean bill of health.

Yet the line finds itself in the unusual position of three ships having been graded "unsatisfactory" by the U.S. Public Health Service's Vessel Sanitation Program within the space of a month.

On Nov. 11, the Carnival Triumph received a 78 on its inspection, followed by the Carnival Vista with a 79 on Dec. 2 and the Carnival Breeze with a 77 on Dec. 10.

Inspected ships must achieve at least an 86 on a scale of 1 to 100 to receive a "satisfactory" assessment.

It isn't known if there was any common factor that led to the three ships failing inspection in such close proximity, although the deficiencies listed in the program's online reports are different for each ship.

"We take these inspections very seriously and share lessons learned and best practices with every ship in our fleet," Carnival said in a statement. "We appreciate the work of the U.S. Public Health Service in identifying areas for improvement, and we have taken immediate action to address the issues identified during recent ship inspections."

Carnival's situation is unusual in two ways. It is rare for large ships that sail regularly from U.S. ports to score less than a passing 86 grade on the inspection, much less for three ships from the same line to do so in the space of a month.

In addition, the inspection report for the Vista says that crew members made "an organized effort 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."

The report said six gray containers of soiled plastic cups and one cardboard box of souvenir cups were stored directly on the deck, as was one stack of approximately 100 plates labeled "chipped plates."

On a rolling trolley, there was a container with a bag of wine, cocktail sauce, 23 packages of butter, one container of buttermilk, one container of whipping cream and assorted equipment. The butter had a temperature of 66.4 degrees Fahrenheit, the report said.

Inside a crew cabin, three plastic bins were found stored directly on the deck. Bread crisps, produce, raw salmon and spices were found in the bins. Red wine sauce, frozen pork sauce, butter and cherry tomatoes were stored on top of the bin. A cook's uniform was hanging on a hook directly above these items. It was unclear if this uniform had been previously cleaned.

Hiding items from inspectors is rarely documented. The most recent example is from 2013, when an inspection of Silversea Cruises' Silver Shadow in Alaska resulted in a score of 82 after inspectors found the crew had made an organized effort to physically remove 15 trollies of food and equipment to crew cabins.

Silversea made corrections, and the ship was eventually re-inspected and received a passing grade.

A quick correction is also the case with the Carnival Triumph, which Carnival said has already been re-inspected, earning a score of 98. In its statement, Carnival said the score "is indicative of the swift corrective measures we take in response to an inspection. We have taken the same immediate approach with Carnival Breeze and Carnival Vista."

There is no indication that any passengers were sickened by the deficiencies turned up in the exams.

Carnival pointed out in its statement that cruise lines fund the government's inspection program "because it highlights areas of immediate opportunity when an item is noted."

"Rest assured, we will leverage our learnings from this process as a best practice," the statement said.

Ironically, the Carnival Breeze was one of 33 ships that received a perfect score of 100 in 2017, when it was first inspected in February. Five of the 33 ships were from Carnival. Celebrity Cruises had six perfect scores; Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International and Disney Cruise Line all had four; and Holland America Line and Princess Cruises three each.

"These scores are a testament to cruise line efforts to provide passengers with the highest level of service," said Donnie Brown, vice president of maritime policy at CLIA.


From Our Partners

From Our Partners

2022 VisitScotland Logo
Fall in Love with Scotland
Register Now
World of Luxury 12.06.21 Horizontal
World of Luxury
Read More
What's New 2022
What’s New 2022
Watch Now

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI