10 Things Cruise Ship Workers Don’t Clean Properly

6 min read
Cruise Ship

So, not that long ago we told you which cruise ships are the dirtiest, according to the CDC. Now, we’re going to delve a little deeper and tell you just what it is that makes these cruise ships so dirty. With that said, here are ten things cruise ship workers aren’t cleaning properly.

10. Dishes

Dirty Dishes
Source: Pixabay

Last year, The Cheat Sheet published an article revealing the findings of a CDC inspection of several cruise ships. On Ferries Del Caribe’s Kydon, the inspectors found dozens of dishes “soiled with food debris.” And, on an unnamed ship, they found “clean” drinking glasses with a white residue on them.

Meanwhile, Reader’s Digest published a similar article which showed that Silversea Cruises’ Silver Wind had stacks of soiled dishes in the dishwashing area, and Japan Cruise Line, Inc.’s Pacific Venus stored clean dishes in areas that were heavily soiled. So, technically they were dirty dishes. But, I digress.

Last but not least, the water on Japan Grace’s Ocean Dream ship was not hot enough to wash the dishes.

9. Hot Tubs

Hot Tub
Source: Pixabay

As you may know, hot tubs require a lot of maintenance. That’s why the CDC requires the water in them to be changed every 72 hours. Unfortunately, Japan Grace’s Ocean Dream must didn’t get the memo, because in 2016 inspectors found that their whirlpool spa water was being changed on a weekly basis. How scary is that, considering you don’t even know who was in there before you hopped in?

But, that’s not all. A recent CDC inspection found that hot tubs on Pacific Venus, which is part of the Japan Cruise Line, Inc. family, lacked filters. The CDC also found that the pH levels were too high in the hot tubs on Norwegian Cruise Lines’ Norwegian Breakaway.

8. Beer Taps

Source: Pexels

If you were planning to toss back a cold one on your next cruise vacation, you might want to rethink that. According to The Cheat Sheet, an inspection on the Hanseatic, a German-owned ship, found a beer tap that “had a buildup of a brownish substance” on the inside of the dispenser. And, on the Un-Cruise Adventures Safari Quest, “the lines for the beer taps were soiled with debris when checked with a drinking straw.” Apparently, the taps hadn’t been cleaned in months despite the Brewers Association’s recommendation of cleaning them at least every two weeks.

7. Ice Machines

Ice Machine
Source: Wikimedia Commons By Etan J. Tal [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)]

But, it’s not just cold beer that you have to worry about. You should stay away from any cold beverage on cruise ships. That’s because the ice machines are hardly ever cleaned. During a recent inspection of one ship, the CDC described an ice machine as having a reddish purple drip,” “black debris,” and “pink and brown debris.” On Compagnie Du Ponant’s Le Boreal, there was black debris found in the ice machine (not to mention flies in the beverage areas), and on Oceania Cruises’ Ocean Insignia, there was mold in a crushed ice bin. And, in June 2017, an inspector found a “pink substance” on the outside of two different ice dispensers on the Carnival Paradise ship.

6. Play Areas

Play Area
Source: Wikimedia Commons By The Conmunity – Pop Culture Geek from Los Angeles, CA, USA [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

Be careful if you’re taking your kids with you on a cruise vacation. The play areas on these ships can be quite germy. According to The Cheat Sheet, a CDC inspect of Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas found that “many of the large toys on the floor were soiled with dust and debris beyond a day’s worth of accumulation.” Not only that, but there was “black sediment and glitter” in the play pool and a “sticky substance” on the ball slide.

5. Mattresses

Source: Pixabay

According to The Cheat Sheet, an inspection of Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas noted that the ship’s pest logs included bedbugs — along with other pests as well — yet the crew did no follow-up inspections. Unfortunately, according to The Cheat Sheet, this was not the first time bedbugs had ever invaded a cruise ship. Sadly enough, it probably won’t be the last either. According to Carnival Cruise Lines, these insects “are typically brought aboard cruise ships in guests’ luggage.”

4. Food Prep Areas

Restaurant Cook
Source: Pixabay

On one ship that the CDC inspected, they found an old piece of dough stuck to a French baguette molder machine. But, that’s not all. The machine’s motor and wiring was covered in a thick layer of old flour debris.

And, on Japan Grace’s Ocean Dream, they found several dirty surfaces near food prep areas.

But, hang on to your seat for this one. According to an article published by NBC News, Benjamin Lopman, a viral disease expert at the CDC, said that “there’s one particular incident where a food handler vomited into a sink and then cleaned the sink, but subsequently used it for food preparation.” The food handler had contracted norovirus, and as a result, thousands of people ended up sick.

“Someone who is sick shouldn’t be preparing food”, Lopman added. And, just because they feel better, doesn’t mean they should come into work. Norovirus can still spread even after the symptoms are gone. It’s best to stay home at least another 24 to 48 hours after symptoms have disappeared.

3. Refrigerators

Source: Wikimedia Commons

According to Reader’s Digest, the CDC’s inspection of Un-Cruise Adventures’ Safari Endeavour found expired food in the refrigerators. And, if you think that’s gross, listen to this: an inspection of Oceania Cruises’ Oceania Insignia found that there was fresh food stored in dirty refrigerators! Yuck. Actually, I’m not sure which one is worse: expired food in a clean fridge or fresh food in a dirty fridge. It’s pretty disgusting either way. Perhaps it’d be better if guests just started bringing their own food instead.

2. The Air

Air Quality
Source: Wikimedia Commons

According to KTOO Public Media, a covert study taken by a Johns Hopkins University researcher working on behalf of an environmental group found the air quality aboard cruise ships was poor. So poor in fact that these ships are said to be as dirty as some of the world’s most polluted cities!

There were nine violations of Alaska’s air quality standards for cruises in 2018. But, as of January of this year, only one cruise line (Norwegian Cruise Lines) had settled with the state. They paid a fine of $37,500 for air quality violation by Norwegian Jewel.

“These so-called fly-by tests are completely ridiculous, inaccurate and in no way represent reality. We test the air quality of our ships and they meet or exceed every requirement,” Carnival Corporation said in response to the study, according to KTOO.

1. Their Hands

Dirty Hands
Source: Pixabay

One of the worst things in the world is having someone who doesn’t wash their hands properly handling your food and personal items. Unfortunately, it happens on a daily basis in restaurants, hospitals, and other places. And, cruise ships are no exception. According to Reader’s Digest, a recent report from the CDC showed that the ship Silver Spirit, which is part of the Silverseas Cruises family, had a staff handwashing station that had a lack of good soap. And, according to The Cheat Sheet, a 2017 inspection on the Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line’s Grand Celebration found that crew members weren’t washing their hands in between handling raw foods and cooked foods.

Here’s something else that you should keep in mind: Oftentimes ships will have norovirus outbreaks, and according to NBC News, the main culprit of these outbreaks is dirty hands. That’s why experts recommend that crew members thoroughly wash their hands with soap and water and follow that up with a dollop of hand sanitizer.


Do you have any cruise ship horror stories to tell? If so, leave a comment below. Thanks for reading!