Norwegian Breakaway Fails CDC Health Inspection

Norwegian Breakaway — the recently refurbished ship that holds roughly 4,000 passengers — recently received a “not satisfactory” following a health inspection earlier this month. The inspection, done under the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP), resulted in a score of 84 out of 100.

According to the CDC website, a score of “85 or below is a failing score.”

The VSP inspections are similar to local health inspectors visiting a restaurant in your neighborhood to determine whether the dining establishment followed proper hygiene procedures. However, the inspection applies to all parts of the ship, from medical facilities to swimming pools to galleys to child activity centers to cabins.

All cruise ships sailing from the United States receive these inspections. Cruise lines do not receive advance notice of when these inspections will take place. In general most cruise ships — including those from Norwegian — pass easily.

Potential Health Hazards Found

The March 10th inspection of Breakaway cited several violations.

In one case cited by the report, a non-food staff member experiencing “acute gastroenteritis (AGE)” worked while having symptoms and also ate at the Garden Café (one of the ship’s public restaurants) during that period. He was disciplined and retrained according to the report.

In two more instances, staff members reported to shipboard medical personnel with AGE, however the medical team did not adhere to proper follow-up timeline procedures (one instance) or documenting procedures (the other instance).

Some other violations listed on the report included:

  • several beverage service items at the Haven bar not being properly washed, rinsed, and sanitized between uses
  • whirlpool spas pH levels above the mandated range of 7.0 and 7.8
  • food debris soiling the seams of back panels of rotisserie ovens in the galley of one restaurant
  • soiled toys in the Guppies children activity center
  • both the boys and girls toilet rooms in a children’s area lacked airtight waste receptacles
  • handwashing facilities in one of the ship’s galleys were blocked by utensil racks
  • fruit flies were found near handwashing stations at the Teppanyaki restaurant

In total, the inspection marked about 50 items — both small and large — that needed addressing. You can read the complete VSP Breakaway report here. Since the inspection, the CDC website has not yet posted the Breakaway’s Corrective Action Report.

The good news is that the health violations found during inspection on that ship do not appear to be a fleetwide issue. Norwegian’s newest ship, Bliss, received a score of 94 after its inspection in February. Norwegian Gem earned a score of 100 in December.

We’ve written before about the cleanest cruise lines according to CDC inspections of ships. In that article, we found Norwegian to be among the cleanest cruise lines with an average score of 95.7.

More Info About VSP Inspections

We think checking out a cruise line’s health inspections is always something to consider before you sail. Ships usually easily pass these inspections and if they don’t, they are usually brought up to code quickly.

If you’re considering booking a cruise on any vessel sailing from the U.S., the CDC website has a search form for individual ships and or specific cruise lines. You can see exactly how your favorite ship scored on their latest inspection.

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