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The Truth Behind Cruise Ship Health Inspections



Despite a flurry of recent reports, the fact is that every year, hundreds of cruise ship inspections occur, with very few ships ever failing to pass. We recently spoke with Aimee Trefiletti, chief of the Center For Disease Control’s Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP), about what exactly goes into these cruise ship inspections.

What A Cruise Ship Inspection Involves

Looking back at five ships docked in Nassau.

Cruise ships are graded on a scale of 1 to 100, and any score below 86 is considered failing. These inspections are unannounced, meaning the ship must be prepared for inspection on any given day.

According to Trefiletti, the inspections can last 8 to 10 hours, depending on the size of the ship and number of inspectors involved. Noting that cruise ships are like “floating cities,” Trefiletti addressed how the VSP inspection for cruise ships involves a similar process to what multiple different land-based industries undergo.

“There are several areas that we look at in addition to food safety,” Trefiletti explained. “We also look at the medical facilities, particularly related to gastrointestinal illness surveillance and documentation… We look at potable water from source to storage, as well as disinfection and distribution and those processes, and we look at the recreational activities onboard, particularly swimming pools, whirlpools, water parks — all those kind of facilities — for filtration, disinfection, general maintenance and safety.”

Read More: The Truth and Lies About Noro Virus

But that’s only the start. “We also look at the child activity centers,” she continued, “particularly diaper changing stations, illness and infection control for children, hand washing stations, their toilet rooms. We look at the hotel accommodations, particularly routine cleaning sequences as well as infection control procedures if they were to have an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness. We also look at ventilation systems [as far as] maintenance and cleaning. And then, finally, we look at several common areas of the ship, particularly for pest management strategy, so they don’t have any infestation of pests, and general cleanliness and maintenance in these areas.”

photo: Norwegian Cruise Line

Trefiletti then went into further detail, explaining that inspections involve checking the temperatures of food storage areas, the temperature of individual food products, employee habits for hand washing, cleanliness, hygiene, whether anybody is ill, and if those with beards are wearing a beard restraint. Cleaning and sanitizing facilities, like the warewash machines and the temperatures that they’re [operating at] are also assessed. Poolside, inspectors check pH as well as halogen-based disinfectant levels – usually either chlorine or bromine.

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What Happens When A Ship Fails

Source: CDC

Ships that fail an inspection must submit a corrective action statement. There is then another inspection which, like the original, is unannounced. That said, however, it’s relatively uncommon for a ship to actually fail the inspection.

“In the calendar year 2017, we conducted 256 of these routine, unannounced operational inspections,” Trefiletti reveals, “and we did have 17 failures. In 2016, we had 4 failures out of 238 inspections. In 2015, we had 5 failures out of 269 inspections. In 2014, we had 12 failures out of 248 inspections, and then in 2013, we had 15 failures out of 231 inspections.”

Percentage-wise, that means that 6.6% of the inspected ships failed their inspections in 2017, a significant increase over 2016, in which only 1.7% failed. Just under two percent failed in 2015, 4.8% fell below the passing grade in 2014, and 6.5% failed in 2013.

All inspection reports and scores, as well as the corrective action statements that cruise lines submit afterwards, are available on the VSP website at This means that cruise passengers who want to see how well a ship they’re considering booking did during it’s most recent inspection, they can easily search the database. It’s a level of transparency not at all common in the travel and hospitality industries… or most others, either.

How To Keep From Getting Sick On Your Cruise

Thanks to news reports about record flu outbreaks on land, many passengers are wondering how they can best avoid getting sick while they’re on vacation. “The most important thing is to wash your hands,” Trefiletti says, explaining that taking this simple step — and doing it often — is the No. 1 way to avoid illness.

Trefiletti also notes that “if you see someone getting sick with vomiting or diarrhea, you should leave the area as soon as possible, and then report to cruise staff if they have not been notified already.”

Last but not least, remember to drink plenty of water. Between the tasty drink specials and the endless Caribbean sun, it’s easy to get dehydrated quickly. Keep yourself hydrated to keep your immune system in its best shape for fighting off illness.


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Cruise News

Princess Cruises To Add Caribbean-Inspired Onboard Activities



Photo by Princess Cruises

Beginning this summer, Princess Cruises guests sailing in the Caribbean will experience a new immersive experience with the “Rhythm of the Caribbean,” offering an authentic dive into island life.

Guests will also be able to take advantage of insider tips on must-do excursions at each port, dance beneath the stars to vibrant Caribbean rhythms, and immerse themselves in one-of-a-kind cultural activities. “Rhythms of the Caribbean” launches aboard Caribbean Princess in May 2018, and is scheduled to roll out on additional ships for the upcoming fall/winter season.

Food & Drink

There will be a wide range of dishes available onboard that offer a diverse fusion of flavors drawn from the Caribbean’s coasts. Some options will include Jamaican jerk chicken, red snapper, creole black mussels, Puerto Rican mofongo, and pineapple crème brûlée.

Princess is planning to combine the history of the region with locally-inspired ingredients for delicious Caribbean cocktails. Examples include rum punch, colorful coladas, mojitos, tropical coolers, and even a regional rum tasting.

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Other Fun Offerings

  • Caribbean Festival – Presented in association with Princess’ “Festivals of the World,” the spirit of the Caribbean will come to life onboard as guests celebrate local culture with themed parties, activities, and lively musical performances.
  • Parrots in the Piazza – Meet local parrots and macaws up close in the ships atrium while learning fun facts about their habits and habitat.
  • Party Like a Local – Sail away with a high-energy party hosted on the lido deck, complete with live music, performers, and refreshing cocktails. When the sun sets, spend the night dancing under the stars at the Terrace Pool Gold Party, inspired by the tales of treasure-laden pirate ships and sunken gold.
  • Indoor Planetarium Experience – Princess Cruises and Discovery at Sea will invite travelers on a voyage to the stars. Venture into the night sky and view the moon, constellations, planets, and spectacular galaxies.
  • Stories from Deep Sea Explorers – Meet real-life treasure and shipwreck hunters as they share first-hand tales of their adventures exploring the Caribbean by boat, investigating legends of lost treasure and recovery operations. Guests will also have the opportunity to gain a greater understanding about the apex predators of the sea during an onboard encounter from a real-life shark diver, Martin Graff (on select sailings).
  • Pirate-Themed Activities – Young landlubbers will enjoy swashbuckling’ fun as they learn how to talk like a pirate, dress like a pirate, and even dance like a pirate during a themed party for the whole family.

Princess Cruises sails year-round to the Caribbean, with a variety of cruises from Fort Lauderdale. For more information about the “Rhythm of the Caribbean,” click here.

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Cruise News

Royal Caribbean Takes Delivery of World’s Largest Cruise Ship



Royal Caribbean takes delivery of Symphony of the Seas

Royal Caribbean International has officially taken delivery of their newest mega ship, Symphony of the Seas. The line honored the instrumental project team during the delivery event at STX France shipyard today.

President and CEO of Royal Caribbean International Michael Bayley, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Richard Fain, and General Manager of STX France Laurent Castaing led the traditional flag-changing ceremony. This symbolized the ship’s official delivery from the shipbuilder to Royal Caribbean. The maritime ritual was followed by a celebration of the crew whose hard work came together to create the world’s largest cruise ship.

L-R – Jean-Yves Jaouen, (CEO STX France) Laurent Castaing (General Manager STX France) Harri Kulovaara, (executive vice president, Maritime Newbuilding) Captain Rob Hempstead, Richard Fain (Chairman and CEO Royal Caribbean Cruises LTD) Michael Bayley (President and CEO Royal Caribbean International)

The 25th ship in Royal’s fleet, Symphony of the Seas is 228,081 gross tons and 1,188 feet long. She will hold 5,518 guests at double occupancy in 2,759 cabins, including 28 additional balcony rooms overlooking the ocean or Boardwalk neighborhood. The Oasis-class ship follows the trail of her sisters, with seven distinct neighborhoods and the tallest slide at sea.

Culinary Adventures

Hooked Seafood – This upscale eatery at the top of the world’s largest cruise ship in the Solarium service up New England-inspired seafood and unparalleled ocean views. The menu offers classic coastal favorites like lobster rolls, crab claws, a signature fish sandwich, and a raw bar.

Rendering of Hooked Seafood

Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade – Stretching the length of a reimagined Boardwalk, the whole family can watch the home team play across 31 big-screen TVs both day and night. The arcade is packed with over 20 games, and the menu of classic American bar food features wings, burgers, popcorn shrimp, sundaes, craft beers, cocktails, and more.

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El Loco Fresh – Made-to-order tacos and burritos wrapped with fresh tortillas are among the Mexican street food favorites that can be found at El Loco Fresh, made for guests that want to grab it and go.

Sugar Beach – The signature candy and ice cream shop is the sweet spot on the Boardwalk, with over 100 types of candies, a variety of ice cream flavors, and even DIY activities for aspiring culinary artists.

New Ways to Play

Royal Caribbean’s first glow-in-the-dark laser tag game – Battle for Planet Z – brings two teams of eight head-to-head in an intergalactic adventure to determine who will claim the last planet in the galaxy. Escape the Rubicon is a custom-built escape room designed to feel like a submarine. Guests must team up and race against the clock to solve a collection of puzzles before time runs out.

Family Accommodations

Rendering of the Ultimate Family Suite

The Ultimate Family Suite is a two-level, 1,346-square foot suite on the ship filled with awesome thrills for the whole family – without ever having to leave their room. Features include an in-room slide, a private cinema with 85-inch HDTV, a floor-to-ceiling LEGO wall, a 212-square-foot balcony complete with a ping-pong table, and a full-size whirlpool. The ship’s most exciting suite also includes the services of a Royal Genie, who will be available to cater to the guests’ every whim.

Itinerary Details

Symphony of the Seas will welcome her first guests on March 31 for a one-time-only, 5-night preview sailing that calls in Naples and Rome, Italy.

The vessel’s maiden 7-night Mediterranean voyage will depart Saturday, April 7 from Barcelona, Spain, where the ship will come to life thanks to the 2,200 international crew members who represent 77 countries around the world. Symphony will homeport in Barcelona for the summer, visiting Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Provence, France; and Florence/Pisa, Rome, and Naples, Italy. Beginning November 10, the ship will begin sailing from her year-round homeport of Miami, Florida to the eastern and western Caribbean.

For more details on Symphony of the Seas, click here.

Photos and Renderings: Royal Caribbean International

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Carnival Cruise Line

Guy Fieri BBQ Prices on Carnival Horizon



Attention, foodies: Carnival Cruise Line has detailed the menu and the prices of Celebrity Chef Guy Fieri’s Pig and Anchor Smokehouse and Brewhouse onboard Carnival Horizon. Located on deck five, the venue will be complimentary for guests during the day, with a la carte pricing in effect at night. The menu will include appetizers, real pit BBQ and desserts, with a selection of craft beers — brewed on board — available as well.

So What’s On The Menu?

Pig and Anchor BBQ

Pig and Anchor indoor rendering via Carnival.

Appetizers (all $4 each)

  • Trash Can Nachos: Pulled pork on house-made tortilla chips, Bourbon Brown Sugar BBQ sauce, pico de gallo, jalapeno, black beans and super melty cheese
  • Ain’t No Thing But a Chicken Wing: Slowly smoke and fried, dry rubbed and tossed in your choice of Spicy Sriracha BBQ, Honey BBQ, Bourbon Brown Sugar BBQ
  • Smoked Sausage and Cheese: house-made smoked pork belly and veal sausage, cheddar, pepper-jack cheese, pickles, pepperoncini, pickled onions, bread & butter pickles, crispy flatbread strips
  • Dragon Chili Cheese Fries: Smoked beef brisket, pork sausage, crispy hand-cut fries, cheddar, green onions, bacon and sour cream

From The Smokehouse (all items $8 each, served with coleslaw, sweet pickle, golden honey cornbread or Texas Toast)

Carnival Magic

Pig and Anchor BBQ will be complimentary during lunch.

  • Blue Ribbon Chicken: This exclusive dry-rub chicken with bourbon smoked paprika, chipotle habaneros, and muscovado sugar, smoked over hickory and grilled.
  • Championship Pulled Pork: Hickory smoked with brown sugar, paprika, garlic and cumin rub, Carolina style
  • 18-Hour Beef Brisket: Cooked in a custom smoker for 18 hours
  • Cedar Plank Salmon: Cedar smoked with jalapeno and apricot glaze

The Whole Smoker ($16) 

  • This big-enough-for-two meal includes chicken, beef, brisket, pulled pork, house smoked sausage, and baby back ribs

The Pig and Anchor Melt ($6)

  • Pulled pork, sliced brisket, double pork belly bacon, smoked gouda, cheddar, homemade pickles, and donkey sauce

Flatbreads ($6)

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  • BBQ Chicken Ranch: Pickled onions, roasted peppers, charred tomato, ranch dressing, and pulled smoked BBQ chicken
  • The Pig Pie: Pulled pork, caramelized onions, roasted peppers, cheddar, and jalapenos

Outside rending of the Pig and Anchor Smokehouse Brewhouse. Photo: Carnival

From The Pit Master 

Baby Back Ribs: Memphis style, marinated for nine hours and slow smoked

  • Half Rack: $8
  • Full Rack: $12

Prime Time Prime Rib: Guy’s blue ribbon rubbed prime rib

  • Half pound: $10
  • Full pound: $18

Side Dishes ($2 each)

  • Mac Daddy Mac and Cheese
  • Beer Braised Cowboy Punto Peans
  • Sweet Potato Bourbon Mash
  • Buttermilk Broccoli Salad, Bacon, and Almonds
  • Mashed Potato, Red Eye Gravy and Burnt Ends
  • French Fries

Desserts ($3 each)

  • Pecan Pie with bourbon syrup and orange potpourri
  • Apple Cobbler topped with cinnamon sugar in an almond crust
  • Banana Cream Pie topped with chantilly cream

Parched Pig Brews ($5.75 each)

Photo: Carnival

  • Parched Pig Smoked Porter: A full-flavor, robust beer. Brewed with roasted grain and malts smoked in our wood smokers onboard
  • Parched Pig Smokehouse Ale: Refreshing and fruity with mild spice character. The complex beer with a dry finish is perfect for a hot summer day

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