What is the CDC's Vessel Sanitation Program and How Does it Apply to Cruise Ships?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is given the authority to run the Vessel Sanitation Program in the federal Public Health Service Act. The purpose of the Vessel Sanitation Program is to decrease the outbreak of gastrointestinal illnesses on cruise ships. In order to accomplish this goal, the CDC inspects cruise ships, trains cruise ship employees and monitors outbreaks of gastrointestinal illnesses. Typically, ships are subject to two unannounced inspections each year. At each inspection, the ship is given a grade on a 100 point scale. Anything below 85 is considered failing. Ships that fail an inspection are always reinspected and may not be allowed to sail if there is an imminent threat to public safety. Inspection reports and scores are available to the public on the CDC website and may be useful to future cruise ship passengers.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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