Aboard the Carnival Vista, Carnival Cruise Line’s newest ship, crew members hid trolleys of potentially hazardous food, equipment and dirty dishware from sanitation inspectors.
Fruit flies were found by the buffet and in a Parmesan cheese container. Crew failed to appropriately document illnesses on board.
On the Carnival Breeze, another of the Doral-based line’s newest vessels, machinery was found to be corroded or not functioning properly. About 25 garbage bins overflowing with waste were found by inspectors near an area where food was handled.
These violations and dozens others landed both ships failing grades from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vessel Sanitation Program, which routinely inspects cruise ships in an effort to control the spread of gastrointestinal illnesses. Ships must score 86 points or higher, out of 100, to pass.
On the whole, numerous failures by ships from major cruise lines are fairly rare.
This is something that some people will find strange, although when you look at the industry as a whole it’s not unusual for there to be [failures] somewhere.
James Walker, Miami-based maritime lawyer
But December’s reports follow another Carnival failure reported in November aboard the Carnival Triumph, bringing Carnival’s tally to three failed inspections in the past two months.
The CDC only recently released the three reports detailing a laundry list of violations, some as seemingly harmless as pooling water and others as egregious as crew attempting to hide information from inspectors.
“This is something that some people will find strange, although when you look at the industry as a whole it’s not unusual for there to be [failures] somewhere,” said Miami-based maritime lawyer James Walker. Most failures happen on smaller ships from lesser known cruise lines, he said.
He estimates that failed inspections on cruise ships happen about two to three times a year, making Carnival’s current string of failures a rarity.
For its part, the cruise line said that the health and well-being of its guests and crew is its “foremost priority.”
We take these inspections very seriously and share lessons learned and best practices with every ship in our fleet… We have taken immediate action to address the issues identified during recent ship inspections.
Jennifer De La Cruz, Carnival spokeswoman
“We take these inspections very seriously and share lessons learned and best practices with every ship in our fleet,” said Carnival spokeswoman Jennifer De La Cruz in a statement. “We appreciate the work of the USPH in identifying areas for improvement and we have taken immediate action to address the issues identified during recent ship inspections.”
Since its failed inspection, the Carnival Triumph has been re-inspected and received a passing score of 98, De La Cruz said, though that report has not yet been published by the CDC.
Corrective action reports for the Vista and Breeze, which would detail what the cruise line has done to correct the issues discovered during the inspections, have not yet been submitted by Carnival.
Violations on Carnival Vista and Breeze
During the Carnival Vista’s inspection on Dec. 2, when the ship docked in Miami, CDC inspectors said they found crew members had made an “organized effort” to physically move containers and trolleys with “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 [Vessel Sanitation Program] staff.”
Among the items hidden: soiled plastic cups, a stack of about 100 chipped plates, a dirty container with coriander seeds, red fajita seasoning, juniper berries, bay leaves, balsamic vinegar, spatulas, 23 packages of too-hot butter, buffet decorations and raw meat and produce. Inspectors ensured the crew disposed of all the items.
Elsewhere on the ship, containers of raw lamb cutlet, raw salmon and raw minced beef were stored in direct contact with produce. Some areas, next to a pizza oven and a smoker, were found to be dirty.
On the Carnival Breeze, which was inspected on Dec. 10, inspectors found the levels of bromine, which kills bacteria in the water, in the Cloud 9 spa hot tubs to be too low.
Other issues included a ship-board provisions room crowded with broken or dirty machinery: a meat grinder with a soiled chute; a deli slicer with a dirty back plate, where the food exits the slicer; and a filthy top compartment in an ice cream machine. And in the buffet area, inspectors watched as crew left dirty trays, plates, cps and utensils on dining tables for hours.