Cruise ships operate with little to no oversight- and are inspected infrequently by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  However, when they are inspected more and more violations are being found.  In fact, according to an analysis of inspections performed by MarketWatch, more cruise ships failed health inspections in 2017 than in any year in the past decade.  The violations include everything from citations for seemingly minor sanitation issues to those that could lead to shipwide outbreaks of GI illnesses like the feared Norovirus, which can spread like wildfire throughout a ship infecting both passengers and crew.

These inspections occur, without notice, at least twice a year, while the ships are in US ports. The inspectors focus on the ship’s hotel accommodations, swimming pools and jacuzzis, dining rooms and kitchens, kids clubs, potable water systems, medical centers and ventilation systems.  Inspectors then rank a ship between 86-100 points.  Any score below 86 points is deemed to be a failed inspection.  The CDC charges the cost of its inspection to the cruise line based upon the size of the ship.

The CDC failed five of Carnival Cruise Line, the world’s largest operator last year three of which occurred during the height of holiday travel: November and December.   And this month the CDC failed the Carnival Liberty.

It is hard to understand how Carnival, Royal Caribbean and the other cruise lines can claim to put the health and wellbeing of its passengers as a high priority- and have this many problems keeping their ships- clean.  As more and more people choose to spend their money and vacation time cruising- the cruise industry needs to refocus its efforts on passenger safety. People who want to know how their ship did in the CDC inspection before booking a cruise will not find that information on the Carnival, RCCL or NCL’s websites.  No.  Instead, you have to go to the CDC website and look it up by ship and then read each inspection and determine whether or not the cruise line filed a corrective report.

For example, on New Year’s Eve CDC inspectors surprised the crew aboard RCCL’s Allure of the Seas and found dozens of serious health standard violations ranging from leaking sinks to improperly stored food.  A few days later, inspectors boarded RCCL’s Grandeur of the Seas, which also was found in abysmal condition with numerous violations resulting in a score of only 87.  As of January 29, 2018, RCCL has not submitted Corrective Action Reports to the CDC for either ship.  With these findings, we are left to wonder if the issues have been resolved or simply ignored.

As a lawyer who investigates cruise ship passenger injury and accident claims, I don’t think that twice a year is nearly frequently enough to hold the cruise lines accountable.  In fact, I think if a ship fails an inspection it should be immediately docked until such time as the issues are resolved.  Allowing the ship to continue to sail with unresolved health issues is reckless.  I am sure many passengers aboard the Allure of the Seas would be horrified to learn that the ship they are on has failed numerous health code inspections.  If a restaurant failed a health inspection, I imagine they would be shut down immediately.  And remember, the CDC only has jurisdiction over ships that come to US ports- meaning that many of the major cruise line’s ships that leave from other ports around the world- have no oversight at all.


If you have been injured on your cruise, on a wet and slippery deck, down a poorly lit staircase or steep gangway, in port on an excursion, or on a tender boat- it is important that you speak as soon as possible with a lawyer who specializes in personal injury claims against cruise lines. Most cruise lines, including Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Norwegian, MSC, Disney, Holland America, Princess, Costa, Regents Seven Seas and Oceania require that claims against them be pursued in a very specific place under very strict deadlines. Failure to comply with each individual cruise lines deadlines can result in a complete loss of any and all legal rights.

Aronfeld Trial Lawyers is a personal injury firm located in Miami, Florida since 1991.  We have fought hard to hold cruise lines accountable when they put their profits ahead of passenger safety.  We are available 24/7 and encourage you to contact us even if you are still on your cruise. The sooner we can begin our investigation and preservation of key evidence, such as the CCTV footage of your trip and fall, slip and fall, assault or other type of injury the more likely we will be able to understand and prove how the incident occurred. Remember, the cruise lines have the most aggressive and well funded defense lawyers in the world- protecting their profits.  You need an experienced legal advocate in your corner who will fight to obtain the compensation you deserve for lost wages, medical expenses, transportation reimbursement and pain and suffering.  Call us today and speak with a cruise ship claims lawyer about your potential claim- toll free 1-866-597-4529, 305-441-0440, or by email. We are ready to help.