The ship scored a lowly 84 out of 100 during a Vessel Sanitation Program inspection on June 10, with 86 considered a satisfactory grade. Just last year, in July 2010, the ship sailed through the inspection with a score of 98. The CDC conducts surprise cleanliness exams twice a year.
In the detailed report, inspectors cited dozens of violations, including potable water tanks that were improperly maintained, wine and food products that were improperly stored directly on an open deck, and food residue on many surfaces that should have been wiped clean (e.g., a blender lid, steel shelving and even several deck surfaces). The word "filthy" is used in the report five times.
The condition of ice machines came under attack in several instances, included the aforementioned hair (found on an inside white lid) and one machine that had a "heavy amount of soil in the rear inside compartment." As for the ship's unwanted guests, the CDC reported that "four live fruit flies and four adult cockroaches" were found in a storage locker.
In a statement provided to Cruise Critic by Cunard, the line contends that the "poor assessment on 10 June resulted largely from one small area of the ship's overall operation. All the issues raised in the report were immediately addressed and have now been corrected." In response to the report's citations of numerous staff lapses, Cunard says, "Ship and shore management have now redefined certain roles and responsibilities to clarify accountability and the company's already rigorous training schedule has been stepped up."
Chihuahua Star, a cruise ferry that carries cars and passengers in Mexico, also earned an 84 during a June inspection. But failing grades for ships, particular the larger mega-vessels trawling the seas, are exceedingly rare. In May, Norwegian Epic came close, scoring a lowly 89, while Carnival Glory squeaked by with an 87 after a January inspection. Before Queen Mary 2 and Chihuahua Star, there have been no failing scores since Albatross, a private vessel, earned a 69 in February 2010.
Since January 1, 16 ships have nabbed perfect scores, including Oasis of the Seas, Azamara Journey, Disney Dream, Norwegian Dawn, Norwegian Jewel, Freedom of the Seas, HAL's Amsterdam, Celebrity Century -- and even Carnival Splendor, which made big news last fall when an engine fire left it adrift off the coast of Mexico for four days.
--by John Deiner, Managing Editor