Tourism & Cruises

Moldy cucumbers. Dead bugs atop a wine cooler. Cruise line ships under inspection

The last three months of inspections say cruise lines out of South Florida have cleaned up somewhat since Carnival and Royal Caribbean ships failed health inspections in July.

But when it comes to cruise ship inspections, even a perfect score doesn’t mean perfect cleanliness.

These inspections are part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vessel Sanitation Program. Scoring is done on a 100-point scale. Scores under 85 are considered “not satisfactory.”

In alphabetical order:

Aida Cruises

Ship: AIDAVITA. Inspected: Aug. 16. Score: 94. Standout violations: No side shields on the hot food display line left croissants and bacon exposed to all manner of yuck. No side sneeze shield protection on the heated bath, cold well, either. There were live flies in the food area. At a wine store, “four dead pests similar to beetles were on top of one red wine cooler.”

Carnival Cruise Lines

Ship: Fantasy. Inspected: Oct. 5. Score: 99. Standout violations: At one of the ice stations, “There was green food debris inside the bin door on the food-contact side. Ice was in the bin.”

Ship: Legend. Inspected: Sept. 10. Score: 99. Standout violations: “Two trays of tiramisu, stored uncovered and unprotected inside this walk-in freezer, were covered in a layer of frozen moisture. Additionally, the plastic covering seven metal trays containing ice cream was covered in a layer of frozen accumulation. The entire inside of this walk-in freezer was covered in a layer of frozen moisture accumulation. The juncture between the left of the evaporative condenser unit and the deckhead was soiled with a build-up approximately three inches of frozen moisture. Numerous drips off moisture were present throughout this walk-in. The two trays of tiramisu and all other uncovered food items were discarded.”

Ship: Pride. Inspected: Aug. 18. Score: 93. Standout violations: Flies in food areas. “An excess amount of water was dripping from the evaporating unit, the deckhead, and the adjoining bulkhead, and accumulated on the top of five cases of beer.” “Three soap dispensers for handwash stations in room service were visibly watered down. The white soap was almost clear in one of the dispensers.” And in the Steakhouse Bar galley, “the underside of the ice and water dispenser was excessively corroded.” Over at another beverage station, there was a rusted water tap.

Ship: Sunshine. Inspected: Aug. 10. Score: 97. Standout violations: “A pan of bacon was stored on the service line unprotected. The bacon was discarded.” The gnocchi maker, which the staff claimed they didn’t use, had more than a day’s worth of soiling and the wood roller was absorbent. A hair strand was found in — not on, in — an allegedly clean teapot. Three trays of cheese, one tray of cantaloupe, four trays of deli meat, one tray of burger garnish containing lettuce and two trays of watermelon were in a refrigerator at 10 a.m. If not used, they were supposed to be tossed at 9:45 a.m.

Ship: Valor. Inspected: Sept. 9. Score: 97. Standout violations: The rinsing water in the glasswash machine measured 155°F, 153°F and 156°F. It needs to be at 165 degrees for a stationary rack machine, 180 degrees otherwise. Several racks of glasses had been washed. The Valor got dinged on this during its previous inspection.

Ship: Victory. Inspected: Sept. 6. Score: 97. Standout violations: Utensils weren’t under sneeze guards “nor were they protected by other means from accidental contamination along the buffet lines during breakfast service.”

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Celebrity Cruises

Ship: Eclipse. Inspected: Aug. 6. Score: 99. Standout violations: On the previous voyage, a food handler with acute gastroenteritis symptoms finished his shift, ate in the crew mess than next morning and didn’t go to the medical station until 11:20. His work area was disinfected. Also, liquor storage/display cabinet shelves were “heavily soiled with dust.”

Holland America Line

Ship: Zaandam. Inspected: Aug. 17. 6. Score: 99. Standout violations: At an ice cream station, “At least 10 bowls were soiled with food debris on the food-contact surface. At least two bowls were wet and stacked. A bowl had standing water that was soiled. This area was not in operation. All bowls were sent to be recleaned.” The Explorations Cafe exhibited a “sticky substance along the gasket of the lid of the undercounter ice machine in the food-splash zone.” In what was called the “Tween Room,” but was also used by kids ages 3 to 5, “Numerous surfaces inside this area were difficult to clean and were observed soiled.”

Princess Cruises

Ship: Royal Princes. Inspected: Sept. 11. Score: 94. Standout violations: Hair and dust were found on one tray of coffee carafe lids. fruit flies were found other places. “At the 3-compartment sink, the food employee working at the sanitizing compartment was stacking the pans he received into the water. This method did not allow for the pans to receive the sanitizing water in all surfaces.”

Ship: Ruby Princess. Inspected: Aug 31. Score: 100. Standout violations: “The warewashing machine was identified as out of order due to inability to maintain the appropriate pressure. Staff stated this machine went out of order earlier in the day. Staff was utilizing a three-compartment sink as a backup.”

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Regent Seven Seas

Ship: Seven Seas Navigator Inspected: Sept. 21. Score: 95 Standout violations: “A tray with 38 canapés (33 cheese crepe wraps and five bread rounds topped with tomato and cooked spinach) was inside a cabinet labeled ‘time control’...The food items and the interior of the cabinet had a foul odor and the food items were cool to the touch and did not appear to be fresh.” The staff said the cabinet had been there for about two weeks. In another place, racks of dirty dishes blocked the handwash station.

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Royal Caribbean

Ship: Empress of the Seas. Inspected: Sept. 15. Score: 97. Standout violations: At the Gluten-Free Station, “There was one small fly that landed on cheese. The cheese was removed.” And at one of the buffets, “the covers for the grits and oatmeal were not self-closing and there was no sneeze guard to protect the food during breakfast service. The covers did not close easily. Passengers were seen leaving the cover open. Other passengers were seen holding the cover with their fingers touching the food-splash area in order to close the cover.”

Ship: Majesty of the Seas. Inspected: Sept. 9. Score: 100. Standout violations: “A housekeeper was observed exiting the (food worker) toilet room with a soup bowl. She stated it was in the room and she was removing it. It was not clear why a soup bowl was stored in the toilet room.”

Ship: Radiance of the Seas. Inspected: Aug. 4. 6. Score: 95. Standout violations: The cucumbers in 13 cardboard boxes “had large amounts of fuzzy, gray, organic growths throughout.” Some of the cucumbers were soft, some had gouges. “One box had a large mass of gray, organic fuzzy growth that extended to the top of the box.” The soap dispenser at one handwash sink didn’t dispense soap.

Silversea Cruises

Ship: Silver Muse. Inspected: Sept. 10. Score: 97. Standout violations: A bartender with acute gastroenteritis began having symptoms at 6 p.m. one day, but didn’t go to the medical center until 6:45 p.m. the next day. In the Starboard dishwashing area, the hood-type warewashing machine hadn’t worked since Sept. 8 and the conveyor warewashing machine was being worked on during the inspection. Though reported as working by the end of the inspection, the inspector said this wasn’t verified. When a storage problem was found in the loading area, “Staff stated that they received more provisions than what they could properly store in their provision rooms.”

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TUI Cruises

Ship: Mein Schiff 1. Inspected: Sept. 20. Score: 98. Standout violations: The electronic “pucks” used to let passengers know their food is ready at the Burger Bar and Omelet Station are only washed, rinsed and sanitized once a day despite passengers and cooks directly handling them. Fruit flies were hanging around a couple of food areas.

Since 1989, David J. Neal’s domain at the Miami Herald has expanded to include writing about Panthers (NHL and FIU), Dolphins, old school animation, food safety, fraud, naughty lawyers, bad doctors and all manner of breaking news. He drinks coladas whole. He does not work Indianapolis 500 Race Day.