As people flock to cruise ships after the pandemic, health and sanitation conditions are still a big issue — including a record 13 norovirus outbreaks so far in 2023.
But now there’s some new information from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to help travelers make an informed decision for their next trip — the agency released its biannual rankings of the most (and least) sanitary ships.
The Vessel Sanitation Program inspects sanitary conditions found in eight different areas of the ship and ranks them out of a total score of 100. Cruise ships that rank below 85 are considered to have failed the inspection.
Related: As the Cruise Industry Makes a Comeback, Norovirus Outbreaks Are on the Rise
“Depending on the size of the ship, two to five inspectors examine the ship to see if it complies with the public health standards found in the current VSP Operations Manual,” the CDC stated. “Inspections usually take 6-8 hours, depending on the number of inspectors, ship size, amount of time the ship is in port, and issues identified during the inspection.”
The Disney Wonder cruise ship, which received a perfect score of 100 during inspections (Getty Images)
Only the MSC Seaside failed the exam with a low score of 67.
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Four popular ships received scores under 90 — the Carnival Liberty and Carnival Pride (both with a score of 86), the Margaritaville at Sea Paradise (score of 87), and the Norwegian Epic (89).
The Holland America Noordam, Wind Star Star Pride, and Le Boreal of the Compagnie Du Ponant SA all received flat scores of 90.
Related: Royal Caribbean Is Testing a Controversial Change — and It Might Be Bad for Revenue
Which Cruise Ships Are the Most Sanitary?
The Disney Fantasy and Disney Wonder received perfect scores of 100. The Carnival Celebration, Carnival Panorama, and Carnival Sunshine ships also received perfect scores.
Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas and Norwegian Cruise Lines’ Norwegian Joy and Pearl also clocked in top scores of 100.
According to the CDC, the most recent norovirus outbreak happened last month on the Viking Neptune, with a prior outbreak occurring a month prior on the Celebrity Summit.
The Celebrity Summit received a perfect score of 100 on this round’s inspection.
The CDC runs two rounds of inspections each calendar year, both of which are unannounced.
The full list of ships and their inspection scores can be found, here.