WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA 9 Call For Action)--Whether you are a seasoned veteran or a newcomer to cruising, there are some things you need to know before you set off on your wonderful vacation.
The recent report that the Silver Shadow cruise ship failed a sanitation inspection raised eyebrows among cruise enthusiasts.
MORE: Read Report Here
The parent company, Silversea, has long been considered one of the top small ship cruise lines. Regent Seven Seas cruise line's Navigator also failed a recent sanitation inspection. Unfortunately, according to an article in Travel Weekly, the number of cruise ships with poor sanitation ratings is on the rise.
MORE: Read Travel Weekly Article Here
So far in 2013, thirteen ships have failed sanitation inspections as compared to only eight in all of 2012, a 69% increase in just eight months.
Obviously, there is more to selecting a ship than just the destination and price.
The recent headlines make us aware of how important it is check the ship's sanitation scores. While it is easy to check out ships that are registered in the U.S. it's a little trickier for foreign ships. The exception being foreign registered ships that pick up passengers in U.S. ports. Those ships have to meet the same standards as ships registered in this country.
MORE: CDC Cruise Ship Inspection Search Here
MORE: CDC Vessel Sanitation Program
When it comes to foreign registry ships that don't use our ports, I have been unable to find a source for checking their sanitation ratings. However, since so many popular cruises do pick up passengers in U.S. ports there is a host of information for you.
Do the sanitation scores reflect the likelihood of an outbreak of a stomach virus?
Even on ships that have high marks for sanitation from the Public Health Service, the number of outbreaks of gastroenteritis is worrisome. For example, in one incident, a ship that received a 100% sanitation rating had an outbreak of stomach virus that affected nearly 7% of its passengers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on a number of ways to make your trip healthier.
MORE: Information on Norovirus
It is surprising to see how many ships have outbreaks of stomach virus in its passengers. You can check out the numbers by clicking here.
The good news is that since 2006 the incidence of reported virus outbreaks has dropped over 60%.
Can it be prevented?
Probably not completely! There are precautions that will lessen the likelihood of becoming ill. For example, your best friend should be hand sanitizers. Use them before every meal. If you are washing your hands, use plenty of soap and wash hands thoroughly.
MORE: Information on Viral Gastroentertitis
Cruise ships often provide hand sanitizers at the entrance to the dining room and at the gangplank for use of returning passengers. The nice thing about many of these receptacles is that you don't have to touch them, you just place your hands underneath and the liquid is dispensed into your hands.
MORE: Other WUSA9 Call For Action Stories here
Written By: Shirley Rooker, Director, WUSA9 Call For Action