Updated: MSC's Lirica Passes CDC Inspection On 2nd Try

May 11, 2004

MSC Italian Cruises' Lirica got some bad news this month when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, conducting its required-by-law semi-annual vessel sanitation program, flunked the ship with a score of 85. An 86 is required for passing. The CDC examines all ships calling at U.S. ports a maximum of twice annually to test for issues relating to water, food preparation and handling, potential food contamination and general cleanliness, storage and repair.

A cruise line spokesman played down the failing score -- noting that MSC Lirica nearly aced its first CDC inspection (held earlier this year) with a score of 98. Still, a 13-point drop is pretty significant in just a few months. According to the CDC's report on the ship, MSC Lirica's inspection revealed problems in kitchen areas. Significant points (three or more) were deducted in areas, says the CDC report, of "potentially hazardous food temperatures storage, preparation display, service, transportation" and with "food-contact surfaces equipment / utensils clean." The ship also lost two points on inspection of its child activity centers -- apparently the report notes that a child seat-insert that had been requested in the ship's first inspection had still not been added.

On its part, MSC immediately conducted a thorough investigation and filed a four-page "corrective action statement" that quite concisely addresses the points made in the CDC report. The ship was reinspected in mid-May and passed with a flying 95 score.

No ships from other major cruise lines currently reside on the CDC's no-pass list -- among the handful on there include the 590-passenger Astor, a ship oriented to a German traveler that's operated by Transocean Tours (score: 79) -- and that hasn't since revisited the U.S. and, as such, hasn't been reinspected. American Safari's 11-passenger Safari Quest (score: 81) also has not been re-tested but that yacht-like ship currently sails roundtrip Sea of Cortez itineraries out of Cabo San Lucas, and so is not within reach of the CDC.

On the up side, there's good news to report -- a handful of ships have already nabbed perfect scores of 100 this year. Among them? NCL aced two vessels -- Norwegian Sun and Norwegian Dawn. Other A-plus ships this year were CostaMediterranea, P&O's Oriana and Carnival Glory.