How the CDC Can Help Choose Your Next Cruise

Original Article by Andrea Ramos of Island Spotters Travel

One of the biggest questions I get as a Travel Advisor is what cruise ship should I take? The choices are vast, but believe it or not it’s not just about what a cruise ship offers. Vacations are expensive and we want to do all we can to make the most out of our time away and this definately does not include getting sick! When planning an exciting cruise vacation, it is crucial to consider the safety and sanitation measures in place for that type of vacation. The CDC Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) plays a vital role in safeguarding passengers' health and ensuring optimal hygiene standards on cruise ships. How can this help assist vacation planners in choosing a cruise ship that prioritizes passenger well-being?

The CDC Vessel Sanitation Program, established in 1975 and is responsible for preventing and controlling the spread of gastrointestinal illnesses on cruise ships carrying more than 13 passengers. It sets guidelines and inspections to promote public health and maintain high sanitation standards across the industry. Under the VSP, cruise ships undergo thorough inspections to assess their compliance with sanitation regulations. Trained epidemiologists and environmental health officers conduct surprise inspections on ships either docked or at sea. These inspections evaluate various aspects, including food handling, water quality, cleanliness, disease prevention, and overall environmental health.

Upon completion of the inspection, cruise ships are assigned a VSP score ranging from 0 to 100. Those scoring 85 or above are considered satisfactory. This information is then made available to the public, allowing potential passengers to make informed decisions. The CDC VSP provides valuable insights to potential cruise ship passengers through its online database, allowing them to review inspection scores and reports. By accessing this data, passengers can gauge a ship's commitment to sanitation practices and its compliance history. Choose a ship with consistently high scores and a strong record of compliance should minimize the risk of contracting illnesses on board those vessels.

While the CDC VSP plays a pivotal role in upholding sanitation standards, passenger responsibility also plays a significant part in maintaining a healthy environment. Passengers should practice proper hand hygiene, use hand sanitizers, follow food safety guidelines, and promptly report any health concerns to the onboard medical staff.

Want to know where your favorite cruise ship stacks up? Here is a list of when each cruise ship had thier last inspection and what was their lastest score. This “Green Sheet Report” was provided by the CDC, the latest report can be found here. If you are trying to decide which cruise ship to take, this list might be a big help in narrowing it down!


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