CDC says US cruise ships were healthy in 2017, despite headlines

Proving once again that cruise ships are not breeding grounds for disease, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has reported that its members received perfect scores of 100 during United States Public Health (USPH) inspections 33 times in 2017.

The cruise ships were scrutinized by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), where the full results are available.

“CLIA is proud of its lines’ strong commitment to public health and their record of excellence with VSP ship inspections. Our cruise line's ships are graded in dozens of areas including hygiene and sanitation of food, galley cleanliness, water, shipboard personnel and the ship overall,” said Donnie Brown, vice president of maritime policy, CLIA, in a press release. “These scores are a testament to cruise line efforts to provide passengers with the highest level of service.”

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VSP is the CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program that cruise lines work diligently to uphold. It includes crew training and voluntarily submitting to health inspections, at least two of which are conducted by CDC public health officers annually and unannounced on ships visiting U.S. ports.

Extensive adherence to VSP requires preventative practices to ensure the utmost in public health standards, and achieving the highest scores necessitates regular ship sanitation.

For example, staterooms are cleaned at least once daily, while public areas like restaurants, snack areas, pools and elevators are sanitized at all hours. Also, at the conclusion of every cruise, ships receive a full cleaning with designated supplies and sanitation procedures.

In fact, the cruise industry and VSP collectively work together to determine VSP Construction Guidelines and a VSP Operations Manual all in the service of maintaining passenger health. In so doing, cruise lines exceed regulatory requirements.

A new set of Construction Guidelines and an Operations Manual is expected to be released in early 2018.

All of this is congruent with my recent article about norovirus on cruises. The virus is neither specific to cruise travel nor should it be feared onboard ships. In reality, it’s statistically less likely that a guest will be inflicted by it at sea than on land, and such sanitation protocols are in large part to thank.

So, you’re likely healthier taking a cruise than not.

This article originally appeared in TravelPulse.