What is the CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program, and How Does it Apply to Cruise Ships?

Posted on Wednesday, June 5th, 2024 at 9:28 pm    

What is the CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program, and How Does it Apply to Cruise Ships_ Image

Imagine embarking on a dream cruise vacation, only to have it become a nightmare due to unsanitary conditions. From contaminated food and water to poorly maintained swimming pools and unclean cabins, the consequences of a cruise ship failing to meet essential health and safety standards can be devastating.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) operates the Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) to protect passengers from gastrointestinal illnesses and other health hazards on cruise ships. The program tracks cases of GI illnesses on cruise ships under its jurisdiction and develops and implements comprehensive sanitation programs to decrease the risk of ship outbreaks. However, the program isn’t foolproof.

If you or a loved one has suffered due to unsanitary conditions on a cruise, it’s essential to understand your legal rights and options for seeking compensation. The cruise ship passenger claims attorneys at Louis A. Vucci P.A. are here to help—call (786) 375-0344 for a free consultation.

What is the Vessel Sanitation Program?

The Vessel Sanitation Program cooperates between the cruise industry and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Established in the early 1970s, the VSP’s mission is to prevent and control the introduction, transmission, and spread of gastrointestinal illnesses on cruise ships.

The program applies to cruise ships with a foreign itinerary that call on a U.S. port and carry 13 or more passengers. Participating cruise lines agree to undergo periodic, unannounced inspections and report cases of gastrointestinal illness to the VSP.

What’s Involved in a Cruise Ship Inspection?

During a VSP inspection, trained environmental health officers board the ship and evaluate eight key areas:

  • Medical facilities
  • Potable water systems
  • Swimming pools and whirlpool spas
  • Galleys and dining rooms
  • Child activity centers
  • Hotel accommodations
  • Ventilation systems
  • Common areas of the ship

Inspectors use a scorecard to assess the ship’s level of sanitation and cleanliness. A score of 85 or below is considered unsatisfactory. Ships that score below this threshold are subject to re-inspection within a reasonable time period. In extreme cases, a ship may be prevented from sailing until sanitation issues are corrected.

Cruise Ship Health and Safety Regulations

In addition to the Vessel Sanitation Program, cruise ships must comply with various other health and safety regulations. These include:

  • The Public Health Service Act
  • The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS)
  • The International Safety Management (ISM) Code
  • U.S. Coast Guard regulations

Failure to comply with these regulations can result in fines, penalties, and legal action against the cruise line.

You can expect a safe and sanitary environment as a cruise ship passenger. If you become ill or are injured due to unsanitary conditions on the ship, you may have grounds for a legal claim against the cruise line.

Common examples of unsanitary conditions that can lead to illness or injury include:

Some common unsanitary conditions inspectors find that pose health risks to passengers and crew members include:

  • Contaminated food or water
  • Improperly maintained swimming pools or hot tubs
  • Unclean or poorly ventilated cabins
  • Inadequate cleaning and disinfection of common areas

If you suspect your illness or injury was caused by unsanitary conditions on a cruise ship, seeking medical attention and documenting your experience is essential. Keep copies of any medical records, receipts, and correspondence with the cruise line.

How to File a Claim for Unsanitary Conditions on Cruise Ships

What is the CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program, and How Does it Apply to Cruise Ships_ Image 2

If you’ve been harmed by unsanitary conditions on a cruise ship, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages or income, pain and suffering, and other damages. To file a claim, follow these steps:

  • Notify the cruise line in writing of your intent to file a claim.
  • Gather evidence, including medical records, witness statements, and photographs, to support your claim.
  • Consult with an experienced cruise ship passenger claims attorney to discuss your legal options.

Your attorney can help you navigate the complex legal process and fight for the compensation you deserve.

VSP Compliance and Cruise Ship Liability

Cruise lines participating in the VSP are held to a high standard of cleanliness and sanitation. If a cruise ship fails a VSP inspection or is found to have unsanitary conditions that cause illness or injury, the cruise line may be held liable for damages.

Cruise ship liability is a complex area of law that involves various factors, including the ship’s location at the time of the incident, the cruise line’s compliance with applicable regulations, and the case’s specific circumstances.

The Importance of Passenger and Crew Health Protection on Cruises

The health and safety of passengers and crew members are paramount on cruise ships. These vessels’ close quarters and communal living arrangements create an environment where illnesses can spread quickly if proper sanitation measures are not in place.

The VSP is critical in promoting passenger and crew health protection on cruises. By setting strict standards for sanitation and cleanliness, the VSP helps to prevent the spread of infectious diseases and ensures a safe and enjoyable vacation experience for all.

If you or a loved one has been affected by unsanitary conditions on a cruise ship, don’t hesitate to seek legal guidance from a qualified passenger claims attorney. The team at Louis A. Vucci P.A. has extensive experience handling these complex cases and can help you fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact us today at (786) 375-0344 to schedule a free consultation.