Periodic Operational Sanitation Inspections
Why does the Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) conduct operational sanitation inspections?
VSP inspectors conduct operational sanitation inspections to determine how well ships are operating and maintaining sanitation standards in accordance with the VSP 2011 Operations Manual [PDF - 2.9 MB].
Inspectors provide public health guidance to cruise ship staff when standards are out of compliance. At the end of inspections, inspectors write a report describing inspection findings and recommendations.
Inspections are conducted while a ship is in a U.S. port.
Depending on the size of the ship, one to four inspectors will examine a ship to determine if it complies with the public health standards found in the VSP 2011 Operations Manual [PDF - 2.9 MB].
The major areas VSP inspects include the following parts of the ship:
|Major Areas VSP Inspects on a Ship||Inspectors Look At|
|Medical facilities||Documentation for gastrointestinal illness surveillance
|Potable water systems||Procedures from water source to storage until use
Protection and any cross-connections
|Swimming pools and whirlpool spas||Filtration
|Galleys and dining rooms||Food protection during sourcing, provisioning, storage, preparation, and service
Employee health and personal hygiene
Facility equipment maintenance and dishwashing
|Child activity centers||Properly equipped diaper changing stations, toilets, and handwashing stations
Infection control for ill children
|Hotel accommodations||Routine cleaning sequences and infection control procedures during outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness, including the use of appropriate disinfectants and outbreak policies|
|Ventilation systems||System maintenance
|Common areas of the ship||Integrated pest management strategies
At the end each inspection, VSP inspectors meet with ship management to discuss inspection violations and give them a draft inspection report. Within 2 weeks of the inspection, VSP sends a final copy of the inspection report to the ship's cruise line.
Cruise ships under VSP’s jurisdiction are subject to two inspections each year. If a ship sails outside of the United States for an extended period of time, it may not be inspected twice a year, but it will be inspected again when it returns to the United States.
No. The twice-yearly inspections are unannounced.
Cruise ships are scored on a 100-point scale. Inspection criteria are defined in the VSP 2011 Operations Manual [PDF - 2.9 MB]. These criteria are assigned a point value; when the criteria are violated, inspection points are deducted from the score.
Points are deducted from that score based on public health significance. An 85 or below is considered a failing score. All scores are posted on the VSP website.
Yes. Although ships are responsible for correcting all violations, some critical violations must be corrected immediately. Each ship must submit a Corrective Action Statement that states how the violations were corrected.
Some violations can be corrected during the inspection; others may take longer to correct.
Ships that fail inspections are reinspected within a reasonable time period.
If a ship fails an inspection because of an imminent public health risk, VSP may recommend that the ship not sail. Imminent public health risks include the following violations:
- Inability to properly chlorinate potable (drinking) water.
- Inability to keep food within safe temperatures.
- Inadequate facilities for cleaning and sanitizing equipment.
- Inability to properly dispose of solid or liquid waste.
- An infectious disease outbreak where continuing normal operations may subject newly arriving passengers to disease.
Inspection reports and scores as well as corrective action statements are available on the VSP website.
Cruise ship owners pay a fee based on the ship’s size for operational inspections and reinspections.
Fee Schedule, October 1, 2015-September 30, 2016
Fee Schedule for Each Vessel Size
|Vessel Size (GRT1)||Inspection Fee|
|Extra Small (<3,000 GRT)||US$1,495|
|Small (3,001—15,000 GRT)||US$2,990|
|Medium (15,001-30,000 GRT)||US$5,980|
|Large (30,001-60,000 GRT)||US$8,970|
|Extra Large (60,001-120,000 GRT)||US$11,960|
|Mega (>120,001 GRT)||US$17,940|
1Gross register tonnage in cubic feet, as shown in Lloyd's Register of Shipping.
The fee schedule is also posted in the Federal Register.
Consultation for Construction and Renovation
At the request of the cruise industry, VSP provides consultation during the construction and renovation of cruise ships. We conduct plan reviews to analyze the ship’s design to eliminate environmental health risks and to incorporate modifications that create healthy environments.
VSP involvement may include
- review of construction/renovation plans and
- technical support through emails and phone calls.
Construction plan reviews are based on the VSP 2011 Construction Guidelines [PDF - 2.9 MB]. General areas that CDC focuses on include the following:
|General Areas||What VSP Looks At|
|Equipment and facilities||Standards, parts, and placements and hygiene requirements|
|Food areas||Buffet lines, galleys, provision rooms, refrigerators, bar areas, and dining rooms|
|Warewashing and waste management||Proper setup and handling|
|Swimming pools and spas||Drains, pumps, filters, safety, and disinfection|
|Water systems||Bunkering, storage, distribution, disinfection, and cross-connections/backflow prevention|
During the plan review process, we may recommend that the ship
- Include more handwashing stations,
- Change the location of these stations, or
- Install backflow prevention devices on hairwashing stations connected to the potable water line in the ship’s salon.
At the end of each review, VSP gives the cruise line and/or construction company a report that indicates recommended changes to the ship’s design.
VSP does not charge a fee for plan reviews or consultations related to renovations or new cruise ships.