Surprise inspections have revealed a shocking number of cruise ships that have failed to meet cleanliness standards.
To gain a measurement for levels of sanitation on the seas, the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) springs hygiene reviews on ships docking in American ports.
The CDC's Vessel Sanitation Program publishes these results twice annually, as a guide to cruise line cleanliness.
While 14 ships gained perfect scores from inspectors testing for cleanliness – the spot checks discovered a number of vessels that were shockingly filthy. Eight ships were found to fail tests for sanitation.
The inspectors were charged with reviewing eight main areas for cruise hygiene. These consist of onboard medical facilities, drinking water systems, swimming pools, ventilation, common areas, child care facilities, accommodation and – of course – dining facilities.
The report named eight vessels which were found to have failed the spot checks.
Any vessel scoring 85 or below out of a possible cleanliness score of 100 was deemed to be 'NOT satisfactory.'
Of the eight ships named and shamed Japan Cruise Line's Pacific Venus was found to have the worst score, with just 76.
Among the Pacific Venus' failings the inspection found: "Multiple food safety issues were observed during the inspection."
The majority of these were due lack of proper logging systems for serving raw foods such as shell fish, and a lack of knowledge from staff over processes. Although, it was noted that there was "No English version of the menu was available for the inspector to review."
The Venus' other sins recorded in the report include discovering food stored outside of pantry areas and storage of dishes in rooms that were 'heavily soiled'.
Silversea's vessel Silver Wind and Safari Endeavour of Un-Cruise Adventures had the dubious honour of sharing joint position for 'second-worst' ships on cleanliness.
Silver Wind was discovered to have an infestation of fruit flies in their pizza oven, and food being stored at the wrong temperatures.
Safari Endeavour failed mainly for expired food being discovered in storage and unsatisfactory kitchen areas.
The remaining ships which were found to be below satisfaction in terms of hygiene were the Oceania Insignia (80), another Silversea cruise Silver Spirit (81), Norwegian Breakaway (84), Ponant's Le Boreal (84) and lastly, Ocean Dream which just scraped under the sanitation pass standards with a score of 85.
On the other side of the galley, out of 44 ships subjected to CDC spot checks 14 vessels were found to have a perfect score of 100.
The cleanest ships on the seas include the faultless Brilliance of the Seas, Celebrity Summit, Rhapsody of the Seas, Norwegian Gem, Disney Wonder, Seabourn Quest, Viking Star, Aurora, Disney Fantasy, Noordam, Sea Princess, Disney Dream, Amsterdam, and the Aida liner AIDAVITA.
While some ships were found to be wanting on cleanliness scores and overall hygiene standards are found to have improved.
The CDC has a number of reports into cruise industry health records and disease outbreaks.
At the beginning of the year the CDC published a report showing outbreaks of gastric infections to be at a multi-year low.
The CDC tracked down the outbreak to a mutation in the norovirus disease, that became extremely virulent on certain ships in the early 2000s.
In response the cleanliness scores a spokesperson for Compagnie Du Ponant said: "Ponant takes this issue very seriously and is committed to meeting high standards in every aspect of our operations, across the globe.
"Following the inspection reported here from 2017, Ponant took corrective action within 24 hours. All official documentation requested by the CDC detailing measures taken to resolve the issues were immediately provided by Ponant."
"On February 15, 2019, Silversea's Silver Spirit received an atypical score of 81 during an inspection by the United States Public Health inspectors. The ship has since been re-inspected, on April 2, 2019, and achieved a score of 92 out of 100."
A spokesperson for Silversea Cruises said: "On March 18, 2018, Silversea's Silver Wind received an atypical score of 79 during an inspection by the US Dept. of Health CDC in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This score, compared with the score of 93 out of 100 achieved some two months earlier on January 6, 2018, caused the company to initiate an immediate investigation into the result. Following the investigation, it was established that a small number of staff had not followed the robust standards expected of Silversea employees.
"All Silversea ships have comprehensive and rigorous training programs in place to make certain its staff and crew implement best onboard practices."
Un-Cruises Adventures CEO, Dan Blanchard told the Daily Mail "We immediately took corrective action when the Safari Endeavour received a poor inspection report from the CDC last year. These steps included senior management on site to retrain ship staff, accelerated check-ins and monitoring of procedures on board, and flying two executive chefs to the Vessel Sanitation Program headquarters in Miami for further training. The UnCruise fleet of eight ships is managed by an expert group of directors and managers from our corporate office in Seattle. Internal audit visits are conducted throughout the operating seasons."
Oceana Cruises released a statement saying "Oceania Cruises' Insignia recently received an unsatisfactory score of 80 during a December 17, 2018 United States Public Health (USPH) inspection in Miami. We are aware of the findings and all deficiencies were corrected well before the official report was recently released. This outcome is not in keeping with the company's commitment to excellence and highest level of standards for the safety and health of both our guests and crew. Oceania Cruises has an exceptional track record with USPH and we firmly believe that this was an isolated result not indicative of our compliance culture. The Corrective Action Report is on file with the USPH."
Norwegian Cruises and Japan Grace have both been approached for comment by The Herald.