Margaritaville at Sea Cruise Ship Fails Surprise CDC Inspection

Margaritaville at Sea Paradise failed a surprise inspection earlier this month. On May 1, The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) pointed out issues regarding water safety, improper food handling, subpar maintenance, and inadequate sanitation practices.

margaritaville islander cruise ship
(Photo courtesy of Margaritaville at Sea)

After a lengthy and thorough evaluation, CDC issued the 1991-built vessel a score of 83%, three percentage points away from the 86% passing mark. 

A detailed list with 65 reported issues spanned several areas of operation, including:

Overcrowded recreational water facilities. Whirlpools were occupied beyond capacity, hosting up to 6 occupants instead of the recommended 4. This negatively affected water safety levels, and water sample tests showed inadequate sanitation.

Corroded, blocked, or improperly listed backflow prevention devices. Corroded and blocked devices can contaminate potable water. Meanwhile, water line labels that are incorrect or unclear could cause confusion between potable and unpotable water sources.

Non-functioning kitchen appliances. Inspectors noted several kitchen equipment—deep fat fryers and refrigerators—that were no longer working and should be pulled out.

Improper storage practices. Ice machine gloves weren’t kept properly, and kitchen personnel didn’t display adequate knowledge of the proper handling of chemicals. These could ultimately compromise food safety on the ship.

Insufficient cleanliness and maintenance. The CDC noticed soiled decks, improperly stored food service items, and poorly lit food preparation and service areas.

Mishandling of food and chemicals. Sanitized dishes were improperly handled, and personnel didn’t know how to verify the concentration of chemicals used to rinse produce.

Several of the violations can be addressed by training crew members properly, replacing inadequate equipment, and maintaining standard sanitation practices. Over the next few weeks, the cruise line is expected to resolve these issues in compliance with the CDC’s rigorous health and safety standards. 

Margaritaville at Sea’s management is also responsible for submitting a report that explains how it has implemented corrective action. The agency will then conduct another surprise inspection to check if necessary changes have been introduced.

CDC inspections: A Serious Matter

margaritaville at sea paradise
(Photo via Margaritaville at Sea on Facebook)

The agency’s impromptu visits are a serious matter that takes up to 8 hours and cost cruise lines anywhere from $1,495 to $23,920 (2024 rates) based on vessel size. They occur twice a year and involve evaluating a long list of major areas.

These include cruise ships’ medical facilities, potable water systems, swimming pools and whirlpool spas, galleys and dining rooms, child activity centers, accommodations, ventilation systems, and common areas.

If the CDC notices serious health risks, it could stop a vessel from sailing and hosting passengers.

Last year, 3 ships from Carnival Cruise Line earned perfect scores: Carnival Celebration, Carnival Panorama, and Carnival Sunshine. Meanwhile, MSC Seaside had one of the lowest ratings at 67%.

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