About Vessel Sanitation Program

Key points

  • Traveling on cruise ships exposes people to new environments and high volumes of people, including other travelers.
  • This exposure can create the risk for illness from contaminated food, or water or, more commonly, through person-to-person contact.
  • CDC helps the cruise ship industry prevent and control gastrointestinal (GI) illnesses on cruise ships.

More Information

Information for passengers

CDC's Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP)A helps the cruise industry prevent and control the spread of GI illness. We also provide information for passengers:

Did you know?‎

GI illness is highly contagious and can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites. Common symptoms include diarrhea, muscle ache, headache, abdominal pain, and fever. GI illness is a commonly used term for acute gastroenteritis (AGE). Sick people can spread it to others by touching handrails, elevator buttons, shared utensils, and other people. It can also be spread through contaminated food or water.

How we help prevent and control GI illnesses

We help the cruise industry prevent and control the spread of GI illnesses by

Contact us

Media inquiries: Email our media team.

Public inquiries: Visit CDC-INFO or call (800) 323-2132.

Mailing address: Vessel Sanitation Program, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4770 Buford Highway, S106-6, Atlanta, GA 30341

What you can do

Learn more about how VSP is addressing GI Illness.

Get travel advice for specific destinations.


Inspection scores for specific ships

Outbreak information for specific ships

Tips for healthy cruising

  1. 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). Cruise ships under VSP jurisdiction carry 13 or more passengers and have a foreign itinerary with U.S. ports.