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About the Vessel Sanitation Program

What VSP Does

The Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) assists the cruise ship industry to prevent and control the introduction, transmission, and spread of gastrointestinal (GI) illnesses on cruise ships. VSP operates under the authority of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. Section 264 Quarantine and Inspection Regulations to Control Communicable Diseases).

We accomplish this mission by

  • Inspecting cruise ships, including both periodic, unannounced operational sanitation inspections and scheduled construction inspections.
  • Monitoring gastrointestinal illnesses and investigating or responding to outbreaks.
  • Training cruise ship employees on public health practices.
  • Providing health education and reliable and current public health information to the cruise ship industry, the traveling public, public health professionals, state and local health authorities, and the media.

Which Cruise Ships Are in Our Jurisdiction?

Cruise ships under our jurisdiction:

  • carry 13 or more passengers, and
  • have a foreign itinerary with U.S. ports.

How Does VSP Operate?

The program operates by the public health standards that can be found in the VSP 2011 Operations Manual [PDF - 4.88 MB]. These criteria target the control and prevention of gastrointestinal illnesses on cruise ships and are primarily based on standards found in the FDA Food Code and the World Health Organization’s Guide to Ship Sanitation.

VSP periodically updates the VSP 2011 Operations Manual [PDF - 2.9 MB] to reflect new technologies, current food science, disease patterns and trends, and emerging pathogens.

Inspection Fees

Cruise ship owners pay a fee based on the ship’s size for operational inspections, reinspections, and onsite and final construction inspections.

VSP does not charge a fee for plan reviews or consultations related to renovations or new cruise ships.

Fee Schedule, October 1, 2013-September 30, 2014

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.

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