Health & Safety

fred henderson
23rd May 2006, 22:11
In recent threads we have debated the effectiveness of the UK MCA and mentioned the toughness of US Coastguard inspections. Although USCG is very thorough, the problem is that the owners are aware of the date when the inspection will be made and they have an opportunity to get their act together.

I have read an interesting report about the US Centers for Disease Control, Vessel Sanitation Program, which in 1975 began inspecting passenger ships visiting US Ports. They arrive without warning and although they can only issue recommendations, except in the direst circumstances when they call USCG in to quarantine the ship they have been very effective. The CDC approach is to publish their findings. Initially they faxed every travel agent in USA, now they post their “green sheets” on the internet.

Ships are allocated marks out of 100. A pass mark is 85. When they began very few ships passed. In the mid 1970s most cruise ships were still old passenger liners, many of whom were home to any number of vermin acquired over decades of service. Food was loaded prior to the voyage and stored in aging or inadequate refrigeration systems that ran too hot to prevent deterioration. On the other hand dishwashing machines usually ran too cold.

The CDC reports have gradually driven the older ships out of the US market to the European and Far East scene. If you look at the above web site you will see that some ships (Oriana for example) achieve 100%. The worst ever was Norway. She was inspected when she first arrived from conversion from France and received a score of 8%!

The guys who break up Blue Lady may face health risks that are almost as great as the passengers and crew of the newly introduced Norway!

Fred (Read)

24th May 2006, 21:32

Thanks for bringing this site to our attention.(Applause)

I am amazed at the detail recorded about violations discovered on ships visiting the US; it would be of great use to anyone considering taking a cruise by providing an opportunity to compare different ships for their scores. You could argue that some of the problems identified were relatively trivial, but at least the information is publicly available and you can decide whether you think particular violations are important or not.

I have only praise for the US Centre for Disease Control for publishing this data and think European governments should follow suit. I know a lot of data is collected by UK government departments which is not made available to the people who pay for it - us mugs the taxpayers!


fred henderson
24th May 2006, 22:22
I fully agree with your thoughts Brian. By exposing problems to the public the American authorities have driven the cowboys away from the US ports. Unfortunately the displaced ships have moved to Europe, to exploit those who think that nostalgia outweighs safety.

The US authorities have been so successful that their critical comments are now rather trivial, but the operators still react by removing even these small problems. In my view this is a great effort.