PHOTO: Holland America Line's Koningsdam (foreground) and Rotterdam (background) in Flam, Norway. (photo by Jason Leppert)
Carnival Corporation has great reason to be proud, as both its Carnival Cruise Line and Holland America Line brands are meriting perfect ship health scores.
This is significant for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the stringent inspections that United States Public Health (U.S.P.H.) places ships under.
Of course, concerns of norovirus onboard cruise ships have taken root in the public eye as a result of often unjustifiable mainstream media hysteria. Most recently are even reports that air might be dangerous aboard cruise ships.
Cruise Lines International Association Europe Secretary General Tom Fecke has thankfully already rebutted the latter claims.
However, while it’s proven that cruise ships are not the only occasional breeding grounds for unpleasant stomach bugs, it takes additional hard facts to alleviate such fears. Now cruise lines themselves are stepping up to the bat by releasing their scores.
As for Carnival Cruise Line, both the Carnival Elation and the Carnival Victory are the latest to score 100 on their U.S.P.H. inspections—the second consecutive time for the former ship and the third for the latter.
In order to achieve this, every inspected department must score perfectly across the 44 Vessel Sanitation Program checklist items. Specific areas of scrutiny include food handling, preparation, storage and galleys, as well as potable water supplies for spas and pools.
The twice-annual inspections (for ships on international itineraries calling in the U.S.) are entirely unscheduled.
Meanwhile, Holland America Line’s newest Koningsdam has already been inspected twice and has received a perfect U.S.P.H. ranking both times. That ship joins the Oosterdam and Eurdoam for receiving 100s in 2017 and the Maasdam, Veendam, Noordam and Westerdam in 2016.
READ MORE: What Cruise Ship CDC Inspection Scores Really Mean
“Our streak of receiving perfect public health scores is the result of incredibly hard-working staff, dedication to operating at the highest standards and a commitment to providing the finest cruise vacations,” said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line, in a press release.
“Turn-around days are challenging with disembarking guests and preparing the ship for new guests just a few hours later. So adding an unannounced public health inspection and then scoring 100 is something to be highly commended. Congratulations to everyone on Koningsdam for this outstanding achievement.”
While it’s somewhat inconvenient that you can’t ever serve yourself at the buffet on Holland America Line—something that is permitted on other ships after the first hours of boarding—the policy seems to be paying off.
Norovirus is spread primarily by not washing hands, so using shared serving utensils can pass germs along. Hand sanitizing stations placed throughout initially help prevent this, but taking tongs away from passengers (as responsible as the crew for the spread of germs) entirely is a surefire way of protecting them from themselves, it would seem.
READ MORE: Staying Safe and Healthy On a Cruise Ship
Moreover, many new and refurbished ships are going beyond only alcohol-based sanitizers and relying more on full-blown sinks or automatic systems (the kind first introduced for kids clubs that simultaneously swirl soap and water around your hands) at buffets. Still, until everyone learns to consistently wash their own hands, this is the best approach to maintaining a healthy cruise ship.
Here’s hoping that common sense continues to take hold so that passengers can join in on safer vacations.