In addition to the self-management, cruises ships undergo random, twice-a-year-inspections through the CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP). Because cruise lines don’t know when the inspections will occur, they have to stay ready. Inspectors from the CDC will board boats that operate from U.S. ports without notice. The inspection will take between five and eight hours and is designed to ensure cleanliness, wellness and safety for all passengers.
Much like restaurant inspections, after a cruise ship inspection, each vessel is given a score. A score between 85 and 100 is considered passing. The CDC actually posts the cruise ship inspection scores on its website. Click here to view the CDC scores for cruise ships.
If a cruise ship has violations during the inspection, they are required to correct them. Some corrections can happen immediately. Others are given a certain amount of time to complete. If there are serious violations, VSP inspectors can and will keep a ship in port until they are corrected.
The United States isn’t the only country that has cruise ship inspection programs. Brazil, Canada and countries throughout the European Union also have similar programs.
The measures that cruise lines take to keep pests off their ships aren’t just beneficial to them and the people that travel on them. It helps protect ports by not introducing new pest species to the various cities they visit, which can cause new illnesses to spread among humans and cause environmental issues to the ecosystem.