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More Cruise Ships Failing Health Tests

June 22, 1997|KATHLEEN DOHENY

Fewer cruise ships are passing sanitation inspections this year--and among those that flunked is the venerable Queen Elizabeth 2 (though it passed on reinspection).

In 1996, about 93% of cruise ships passed on the first try, according to David Forney, public health advisor with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Vessel Sanitation Program, which administers the voluntary inspections. So far this year, the percentage has dropped to about 83%.

The record for the week ending May 2 was especially bad: Three out of four ships inspected--the Norwegian Cruise Line's Norway, Clipper Cruise Line's Nantucket Clipper and Cunard Line's Queen Elizabeth 2--flunked, with scores of 81, 79 and 80, respectively. Norwegian's Leeward passed with an 88. A passing score is 86 or higher.

The inspection guidelines have not changed, Forney said, although he added that water systems may be getting closer-than-usual scrutiny in an effort to reduce outbreaks of gastrointestinal and other illnesses linked to contaminated water. So far this year, there have been five such outbreaks on cruise ships compared to two for all of 1996, according to Dan Harper, program manager with the vessel sanitation program.

The QE2's failing grade was due to a refrigerator set at too high a temperature, said Cunard spokeswoman Eileen Daily. But Harper also cited the presence of cockroaches, and inappropriate storage of beef stock, smoked fish and lobster. Any of the violations, if uncorrected, could lead to health problems in passengers.

All three ships that failed the May 2 inspection passed on reinspection.

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