Few things in life are more relaxing than reclining in a lounge chair aboard a cruise ship, cool fruity drink in hand, putting aside your day-to-day concerns as you head toward your next tropical port of call. That’s what makes cruising one of the more popular vacation choices for people around the globe.
But while it’s true that hope floats, headaches can arise in even the most seemingly ideal places. A new report sheds some light on the state of cleanliness in the seafaring hospitality industry.
An analysis of data collected by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention shows that more cruise ships failed health inspections in 2017 than at any other time in the past decade, according to finance site MarketWatch. The information was taken from reports culled from the CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program, which conducts surprise inspections on ships throughout the year.
On 14 occasions, cruise ships were cited for violations resulting in them failing their health inspections. Only half of them were re-inspected and subsequently passed, Marketwatch reports.
When taken in the context of the number of health inspections conducted throughout the year – almost 250 – the number of failures may not seem like a lot, but in 2016, only two ships scored below-par grades, according to CDC numbers cited by MarketWatch.
Furthermore, outside of the health inspections, which check a laundry list of procedural and safety protocols to assure compliance, all it takes is for one person to come down with a gastrointestinal illness to spark an outbreak and turn a nice getaway into a nightmare.
In December, a Royal Caribbean cruise ship had to turn around and head to Florida after more than 300 passengers got sick while navigating the Atlantic Ocean. “It was just terrifying,” Tracy Flores, a passenger, was quoted by CNN as saying. “Just the amount of people that were coming in at the same time with vomiting and diarrhea and just looked ghastly.”
Nevertheless, cruising the seas remains an extremely popular way to travel. If you’re going to book a cruise, you should know what to look out for when choosing your vessel. Here are five things to find out before you spend any money:
5 things to look for when choosing a cruise ship
Know which cruise line suits your needs: Different cruise lines offer different experiences. If you’re a party animal, a Carnival Cruise may be more your style. If you want a more family-oriented vacation, there are other cruise lines to choose from. If luxury is your thing, you may prefer a company that specializes in Mediterranean trips. Adventurous? You might enjoy experiencing the Alaskan expedition ships.
What’s included in the prices? Some travelers book their cruises and are shocked when they discover that the trip is not all-inclusive. Find out ahead of time whether things such as alcohol, gratuities and ship activities will cost you extra.
Check health inspections: Unlike the food industry, customers won’t be able to simply look at the wall inside the vessel to find the latest health inspections; they’re usually not posted for travelers to gawk at. Find cruise ship health inspections online on the CDC’s website.
Check outbreak updates: The CDC also publishes the latest info on outbreaks, which is invaluable information before you book a cruise.
Read the reviews: In this day and age, before you do just about anything, you can read reviews. Cruise ships are no different. In addition to scores of reviews on TripAdvisor, the travel site Cruise Critic also has a section where people write and rate cruise liners.
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