Construction Inspections

Learn about cruise ship construction inspections and equipment reviews and how to request them.

What are the VSP Construction Guidelines?

Cruise ship owners and operators select ship design and equipment that best meet their needs. The selected design and equipment must also meet VSP’s sanitary design criteria standards and routine operational inspection requirements.

The VSP Construction Guidelines provide a framework of consistent construction and design guidelines to help protect passenger and crew health. VSP is committed to promoting high construction standards to protect the public’s health.

The guidelines cover components of a cruise vessel’s facilities related to public health, including

  • Food storage, preparation, and service.
  • Water bunkering, storage, disinfection, and distribution.
  • Recreational water facility design and construction.

The first guidelines for construction of cruise ships were published in 1997 and 2001 as the Recommended Shipbuilding Construction Guidelines for Cruise Vessels Destined to Call on U.S. Ports. In 2005, the guidelines were renamed the VSP Construction Guidelines.

How can a ship request plan reviews, consultations, and construction-related inspections?

Cruise vessel owners or shipyards that build or renovate cruise vessels can request plan reviews, onsite shipyard construction inspections, and/or final construction inspections of new or renovated vessels before their first or next operational inspection. To coordinate or schedule a plan review or construction-related inspection,

  • Submit an official written request to the VSP Chief at as early as possible in the planning, construction, or renovation process. VSP honors requests depending on staff availability.
  • Make your request more than 45 days before the desired date(s). VSP encourages coordination well before the 45-day minimum to better plan the actual dates.

At least one representative qualified to answer questions and empowered to make corrections, additions, or deletions must attend plan reviews and construction-related inspections. Consult the VSP Construction Guidelines  for more information.

What’s involved in the construction and renovation process?

At the cruise industry’s request, VSP provides consultation during cruise ship construction and renovation. We analyze the ship’s design during plan reviews to eliminate environmental health risks and to incorporate modifications that create healthy environments.

VSP involvement may include

  • Review of construction/renovation plans.
  • Technical support through emails and phone calls.
  • Shipyard inspections.
  • Final construction inspections.

Construction plan reviews are based on the current VSP Construction Guidelines. VSP generally focuses on five areas during these reviews:

Construction plan reviews are generally focused on the following areas
General Areas Inspectors Look 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

How much do construction/renovation plan reviews cost?

Cruise ship owners pay a fee based on the ship’s size for onsite construction and renovation inspections. The fee for construction and renovation inspections is higher than the fee for operational inspections or reinspections because these inspections typically last several days instead of 1 day.

NOTE: VSP charges a fee for onsite construction and renovation inspections. However, VSP does not charge a fee for plan reviews or consultations related to renovations or new cruise ships.

Fee Schedule, January 1, 2023-September 30, 2023

Fee Schedule for Each Vessel Size—Construction/Renovation Inspections
Vessel Size (GRT1) Inspection Fee
Extra Small (<3,000 GRT) US$2,990
Small (3,001-15,000 GRT) US$5,980
Medium (15,001-30,000 GRT) US$11,960
Large (30,001-60,000 GRT) US$17,940
Extra Large (60,001-120,000 GRT) US$23,920
Mega (>120,001-140,000 GRT) US$35,880
Super Mega (>140,001 GRT) US$47,840

1Gross register tonnage in cubic feet, as shown in Lloyd’s Register of Shipping.

The fee schedule is also posted in the Federal Register.

What equipment has VSP tested and certified?

Although the VSP Construction Guidelines establish standards for equipment and materials installed on cruise vessels, VSP does not test, certify, or otherwise endorse or approve any equipment or materials used by the cruise industry. Instead, VSP recognizes certification from independent testing laboratories such as the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF), Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL), the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), and other recognized independent international testing institutions.

Equipment manufacturers and suppliers should not contact VSP to request approval of their products.

VSP grants cruise line requests for equipment reviews depending on staff availability. Submit an official written request to the VSP Chief at to request reviews.