About the Vessel Sanitation Program
What does VSP do?
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 our mission by
- Inspecting cruise ships in periodic, unannounced operational sanitation inspections.
- Reviewing ship construction plans for compliance with VSP’s sanitary design criteria standards.
- 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 under VSP’s jurisdiction?
Cruise ships under VSP 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 current version of the VSP Operations Manual. 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 Operations Manual to reflect new technologies, current food science, disease patterns and trends, and emerging pathogens.
How are VSP’s inspection fees structured?
Cruise ship owners pay a fee based on the ship’s size for operational inspections or reinspections. The fee schedule is posted in the Federal Register. Learn more about periodic operational sanitation inspections and fees.
Cruise ship owners pay a fee based on the ship’s size for onsite construction and renovation inspections. The fee schedule is posted in the Federal Register. VSP does not charge a fee for plan reviews or consultations related to renovations or new cruise ships. Learn about cruise ship construction inspections and equipment reviews, how to request them, and construction inspection fees.
How can I contact VSP?
- Visit CDC-INFO
- Call (800) 323-2132
Mailing address: Vessel Sanitation Program
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
4770 Buford Highway, S106-6
Atlanta, GA 30341
What CDC/ATSDR divisions and programs does VSP work with?
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)
- National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID)
- National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD)
- National Respiratory and Enteric Virus Surveillance System (NREVSS)