Tourism & Cruises

Ship’s crew hid food from CDC inspectors

Silversea Cruises touts its “unparalleled service and superlative comfort” with butler service, sophisticated entertainment and gourmet cuisine.

That’s why consumers were shocked when the Silver Shadow, one of the luxury line’s seven ships, failed a surprise sanitation inspection. Among the violations included in the report, released this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vessel Sanitation Program: that an “organized effort” was made to hide trolleys of food in crew cabins in order to avoid inspection.

The 382-passenger vessel failed the inspection, which took place June 17 in Skagway, Alaska, with a score of 82. The CDC says any score under 86 is not satisfactory.

On Thursday, the chief executive of Silversea released a response to the inspection, seeking to assure passengers that the line has investigated and taken steps to correct all the issues.

“There will be a further inspection ... before the Silver Shadow leaves Alaskan waters at the end of August, which we welcome as we believe and trust the results of any follow-up inspection will demonstrate Silversea’s commitment to maintain the best standards in sanitation and hygiene on board its fleet,” CEO Enzo Visone said in the statement. Headquartered in Monaco, the privately held line has an office in Fort Lauderdale.

Silver Shadow is one of 14 ships to fail inspections in the past year, including one each from Carnival, Princess, Holland America, SeaDream Yacht Club and two from Celebrity. The Celebrity, Carnival and Holland America ships have passed new inspections.

During the Silver Shadow investigation, 40 violations were identified, including the presence of a live fly in a dish washing area, improper reporting of stomach illnesses and a mildew-covered refrigerator grate. But the most disturbing findings centered on what inspectors discovered in more than 10 cabins shared by kitchen crew: food stored on beds; equipment, including a meat slicer, plates and a microwave oven tucked under beds and blankets; and 15 full trolleys of food and equipment moved to cabins.

In his statement, Visone said the inspection happened at the end of the breakfast period.

“When the galley staff heard that inspectors were on board, instead of continuing their work in the understanding that they were in the middle of a meal service, they tried to quickly remove all trolleys and any items not in the fridges and place them in cabins out of the way,” he said. “It goes without saying that such practices are against company policy and should not have happened.”

Potentially hazardous food was thrown away; inspectors poured chlorine over it to make sure it would not be served, the report says.

The report prompted outrage on the Cruise Critic website, with 23 pages of comments on one message board thread.

Said one member: “I’ve crossed off Silversea on my bucket list — for now.”