Holland America Cruise Ship Fails CDC Inspection

September 24, 2012

(7:41 p.m. EDT) -- Cinnamon sticks stored next to a baited roach trap, blocks of nonpotable carving ice in contact with containers of ice cream and more than a dozen live flies were recently discovered on Veendam by health inspectors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those and over 100 other infractions earned the Holland America ship a failing score of 77 out of 100 on its August 19 vessel sanitation inspection.

The CDC's surprise cruise ship cleanliness exam is conducted twice a year, with an 86 considered passing.

In a detailed report, inspectors documented finding live flies in a pastry dry stores locker, a provisions room, a prep room and numerous galleys throughout the ship. The report recommended that crew effectively control the presence of insects, rodents and other pests to minimize their presence in the food storage, preparation and service areas.

Inspectors also found a number of washing and food storage devices, including refrigerators and dishwashing machines, were in need of repair. A leak in a water line directly above one dishwashing machine resulted in water dripping into the machine and contaminating clean dishes after they were sanitized. According to the report, workers were then observed taking contaminated dishes and putting them into clean storage racks.

Another infraction involved a goateed cook doing food preparation without wearing a beard restraint. The cook was instructed by staff to put on a beard restraint. Per VSP guidelines, food employees should wear hair restraints and clothing that covers body hair.

Additional violations were cited for leaky faucets and ice machines, a lack of serving utensils alongside self-service cereal containers, and failing to include language on a menu about consuming raw foods.

The 1,350-passenger Veendam, which debuted in 1996, has passed each of its previous 32 tests. The ship received a 93 on its most recent exam in April.

In an official statement, Holland America said, "The score resulted largely from one area of the ship's overall operation. All the issues raised in the report were immediately addressed and have now been corrected. We have also ensured that our management and training practices in this area have been refocused to ensure continued success.... While unacceptable for Holland America Line, the unsatisfactory score is highly unusual and an aberration.... We are confident that this will not occur again, and that Veendam's VSP scores in future will return to their consistently high levels. Holland America Line is committed to a comprehensive program to provide a clean and sanitary shipboard environment to ensure the health and safety of its guests and crew."

The last well-known cruise ship to fail an inspection was Royal Caribbean's Monarch of the Seas, which earned an 85 in 2011.

Thirty-three ships have earned perfect scores in 2012, including Disney Fantasy, HAL's Nieuw Amsterdam, Queen Mary 2 and Carnival Liberty.

--by Dan Askin, Senior Editor