The Best (And Worst) Royal Caribbean Ship Health Inspection Scores, According to the CDC

Royal Caribbean is known as one of the most popular cruise lines on the planet. But how clean are its ships? Turns out, very clean if you go by the cruise line’s inspection reports as published by the CDC.

Wonder of the Seas docked alongside
Cruise ships sailing from the United States are regularly inspected by the CDC, with scores and reports issued to the public. We have the latest data across all of Royal Caribbean’s inspections.

When you put thousands of people on a cruise ship, keeping everyone healthy becomes a top priority. Illness on a cruise ship can spread quickly given the close proximity of people. Not only does that ruin the vacations of passengers, but headlines about guests being sick on a cruise quickly make news.

But you don’t just have to take the cruise line’s word that they are keeping things in proper order. Many don’t realize it, but ships sailing the United States are regularly inspected by the CDC for compliance with health standards. This falls under what’s called the Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP).

You can think of this program as health inspections for cruise ships, similar to what your local health department does for restaurants at home.

Cruise ships are subject to two inspections every year, each one lasting 6-8 hours and at a cost of more than $20,000 in some cases. Ships are scored on a 100-point scale, and anything less than an 86 is considered a failing grade. The inspections focus on eight areas:

  • Medical facilities
  • Water systems
  • Swimming pools and whirlpools
  • Galleys and dining rooms
  • Child activity centers
  • Hotel accommodations
  • Ventilation systems
  • Common areas

Once inspected, the ship is provided a score and a full report — with any violations — is uploaded to the VSP website.

In general, cruise ships do well on these inspections. It’s rare for a ship to fail. We’d estimate it happens only a handful of times a year. In fact, many more ships earn perfect 100 scores than fail the inspection. In general, most scores are well into the 90s.

So how has Royal Caribbean scored in these inspections?

Inspection Scores for the Royal Caribbean Fleet

All told, Royal Caribbean has more than two dozen ships, meaning it sees lots of inspections each year.

You would expect the cruise line to have a good idea of what’s required to score well, and you’d be right. Below, we’ve put the latest scores as shown on the CDC’s website for the entire fleet:

Across the 26 ships, Royal Caribbean scores an average of 96.6 out of 100. That's a stellar rating, especially given the number of ships.

The highest overall score was a perfect 100 aboard Voyager of the Seas. Beyond that, four ships -- Allure, Odyssey, Vision, and Wonder scored a near-perfect 99. And then seven ships scored a solid 98 on their inspections.

All told, that's 12 ships -- nearly half of the entire fleet -- that scored a 98 or higher on their latest CDC inspections.

Adventure of the Seas in Cozumel
Adventure of the Seas (shown here in Cozumel) had the lowest inspection score at 89 out of 100. That's still above a passing grade.

In fact, when it comes to low scores, they are practically non-existent.

Harmony of the Seas scored a 92 on its report. Issues found included "food debris" in some areas, "black slime" in ice dispensers, and one member of the crew preparing food while having a "red string bracelet on their wrist." (Protocol is for food staff not to wear jewelry on hands or arms when preparing food.)

Independence of the Seas scored a solid 91, yet that's low compared to the average score across the fleet. Issues here included some food held at incorrect temperatures, difficult to clean surfaces, and a number of spots with missing tile grout.

Of all the ships, Adventure of the Seas had the lowest inspection score of an 89 (failing is 85 or below). Here, inspectors found "black debris" on the ice machine chute, flies found in several areas around the ship, and water dripping on stored food.

Before you get worried about these issues, however, keep in mind that all ships (no matter their score) are required to address issues and then can submit a "Corrective Report" outlining what was done.

How to See What Your Cruise Ship Scored

Headed on a cruise soon and want to know what your specific ship scored on its latest inspection? You can search the VSP database using this page. Simply find your ship in the list and then click search. It will also allow you to see reports, which you can read to see the specific violations found on the ship.

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