CDC Releases Details of Silversea Cruise Ship's Failed Health Inspection

July 23, 2013

(1:20 p.m. EDT) -- An organized effort to hide food, equipment and dishware from health inspectors during a June Centers for Disease Control and Prevention inspection, as well as several violations related to cleanliness, reporting and signage, resulted in a failing health score of 82 for Silversea Cruises' Silver Shadow.

The score is two points lower than Cruise Critic previously reported. Silversea issued a statement July 17 in which it said Silver Shadow had received an 84. At the time, the CDC told Cruise Critic the number was a preliminary number and wasn't "set in stone."

In a detailed report compiled after the June 17 surprise inspection of Silver Shadow, CDC inspectors documented "an organized effort" to "physically remove over 15 full trolleys of dry foods, spices, canned foods, cooked foods, milk, raw meats, pasteurized eggs, cheeses of all types, baking goods, raw fruits, raw vegetables and a variety of both hand held and counter model food equipment, pans, dishware and utensils to over 10 individual cabins shared by two or three galley crew members in order to avoid inspection by VSP staff."

Inspectors forced crew to throw away all non-canned foods.

"The lead VSP inspector poured concentrated chlorine liquid over all the discarded food as they were dumped into garbage bags to ensure they would not be used again."

In the report, the CDC advised Silversea that food operations are not to be conducted in rooms used as living or sleeping quarters.

Inspectors also found that the door to the pool grill pantry was kept open during service, giving flying insects easy access to the space. Upon returning to the pantry at the end of the inspection, the CDC found that crew had again propped the door open even after being told to keep it closed.

Additional violations were cited for errors in the food cooling process, refrigerator condensers covered in dust and mildew, insect sightings, and inaccurate acute gastroenteritis surveillance logs.

In a July 17 statement, Silversea apologized for the ship's failing grade and said it had taken "immediate measures to address the issues identified in the inspection report." Spokesman Brad Ball would not comment on what specific measures had been taken, including whether anyone was let go for intentionally trying to hide unsanitary conditions.

Cruise Critic members say the apology and vague reassurance are not enough.

"The Silversea response to the inspectors may be sufficient for the purpose of responding to the inspection regime, but it is wholly inadequate for any other purpose," Cruise Critic member bogey wrote. "Documented training forms do nothing to respond to the real problem -- the intentional effort to hide potentially unsafe and unsanitary conditions and to avoid the rules and regulations designed to ensure passenger safety. People in charge need to be fired."

Cruise Critic's request to Silversea for further response has not been returned.

--by Dori Saltzman, News Editor