The Dirtiest Cruise Ships, According to the CDC

7 min read
Cruise Ship

Thinking about going on a cruise vacation? You might want to think again. That’s because it’s easy for disease to spread on cruise ships. You probably already know that. But, what you probably don’t know is that the underlying causes of these diseases is not because an infected person boarded the ship. It’s because the ships themselves are not clean.

While some of the Cruise Ships have been found guilty of serving expired food, few of them had food stored at unsafe temperatures. According to a recent report from the CDC, we have put together a list of ten dirtiest cruise ships.

10. Pacific Venus

Pacific Venus
Source: Wikimedia Commons By 663highland [CC BY-SA 3.0 (]

Pacific Venus, part of the Japan Cruise Line, Inc. family, is the worst offender on this list. It received the lowest score of all — 76 out of 100. Among this ship’s many violations include things like lack of proper logging systems for serving raw foods such as shellfish, storing food in non-food areas where contamination was possible, storing clean dishes in rooms that were heavily soiled, having drinking water that wasn’t kept at the appropriate halogen levels to ensure water safety, lacking filters for hot tubs, and lacking some of the required equipment to test the drinking water for safety.

9. Silver Wind

Silver Wind
Source: Wikimedia Commons By Piergiuliano Chesi [CC BY 3.0 (]

Silver Wind is part of the Silversea Cruises family. It’s the second worst ship in terms of cleanliness. It received an overall score of 79 due to a number of issues, including too-low pH and chlorine levels in the drinking and pool water, stacks of dirty dishes in the kitchen, perishable food being kept at unsafe temperatures, and a fruit fly infestation in the pizza oven.
According to The New Zealand Herald, 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 U.S. 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,” the spokesperson added.

8. Safari Endeavour

Safari Endeavour
Source: Wikimedia Commons By Wolfgang Kähler [CC BY-SA 3.0 (]

Coming in at number eight is Safari Endeavor, a ship that’s part of the Un-Cruise Adventures family. This ship was found guilty of having expired food in the fridge, storing food at unsafe temperatures, having dirty surfaces throughout the kitchen areas, storing spices in a dirty cabinet without covers, and having off levels of halogen and chlorine in the water system.
According to The New Zealand Herald, Un-Cruises Adventures CEO, Dan Blanchard told the Daily Mail that they “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,” Blanchard added.

7. Oceania Insignia

Source: Wikimedia Commons By Ivan T. [CC BY-SA 3.0 (]

Coming in at number seven with a score of 80 out of 100 is Oceania Cruises’ Oceania Insignia. According to the CDC report, this ship had dirty refrigerators with food still inside, insects in the food area, and mold in the crushed ice bin. Plus, they had food that was stored at unsafe temperatures. They also had issues maintaining the halogen and pH levels in the drinking water.

Ironically, Oceania Cruises refers to the Insignia as a “top rated cruise ship that provides Oceania guests with an incomparable getaway.” Yes, incomparable indeed! Unfortunately, not in a good way.

6. Silver Spirit

Silver Spirit
Source: Wikimedia Commons By Pavlo1 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (]

Another member of the Silverseas Cruises family, Silver Spirit received a score of 81 out of 100. The cruise ship had several incidences of acute gastroenteritis among crew members. This was likely due, at least in part, to the fact that the ship’s staff hand washing station lacked good soap. Other issues included food being stored where cross-contamination was possible, and food debris that contaminated the dishwasher.

But, wait. There’s hope…

While Silver Spirit received a score of 81 from U.S. Public Health inspectors on February 15, 2019, the ship had since been re-inspected, on April 2 to be exact, and received a score of 92 out of 100.

5. Le Boreal

Le Boreal
Source: Wikimedia Commons By Jonn Leffmann [CC BY 3.0 (]

Le Boreal is part of the Compagnie Du Ponant family. It received a score of 84 out of 100 for issues such as storing food at unsafe temperatures, black debris in the ice machine, flies in the food and beverage areas, and just overall dirty conditions.

According to The New Zealand Herald, 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.”

The cruise line took corrective measures within 24 hours after the inspection.

4. Norwegian Breakaway

Norwegian Breakaway
Source: Wikimedia Commons By Dickelbers [CC BY-SA 3.0 (]

Norwegian Cruise Lines has some of the largest cruise ships in the world with some of the most fun-filled activities you can find at sea. Still, that doesn’t excuse the poor conditions found on the Norwegian Breakaway. According to the CDC report, there was a staffer with symptoms of a stomach virus, yet he or she continued to work. Plus, the hot tubs had pH levels that were too low, there were fruit flies in a few of the onboard bars and restaurants, and food was left out until it reached unsafe temperatures.

3. Ocean Dream

Ocean Dream
Source: Wikimedia Commons By Farid mernissi [CC BY-SA 4.0 (]

With a score of 85 out of 100, Ocean Dream, a ship belonging to the Japan Grace family, is just under the sanitation pass standards. One reason is because like the other ships previously mentioned, they refrigerated foods — primarily dairy products — at unsafe temperatures. Another issue is that the surfaces near the food prep areas were dirty. Lastly, the water they used for dish washing machines wasn’t hot enough to get the dishes clean.

Speaking of water, an article published in 2018 by The Cheat Sheet revealed that an inspection of the ship in 2016 found that the “whirlpool spa water was changed weekly, not every 72 hours,” as required by the CDC. Now, if that doesn’t make you cringe, I don’t know what will.

2. Island Princess

Island Princess
Source: Wikimedia Commons By Jean-Philippe Boulet [CC BY 3.0 (]

Although there were eight ships in the report that were found to have failed tests for sanitation, the CDC has also listed outbreak updates for international cruise ships for 2019. One of those on the list is the Island Princess, a member of the Princess Cruises family. According to the CDC, a number of passengers reported feeling ill between February 8 and February 18 of this year. The reason was an outbreak of the norovirus. In response to the outbreak, the crew increased cleaning and disinfection procedures, collected stool specimens from passengers and/or crew and sent the specimens to the CDC Calicivirus lab, made twice daily reports of gastrointestinal illness cases to VSP, and consulted with VSP on plans for their comprehensive sanitation cleaning procedures.

1. Viking Star

Viking Star
Source: Wikimedia Commons By Pjotr Mahhonin [CC BY-SA 4.0 (]

Another ship included on the 2019 outbreak list was Viking Star, a member of the Viking Ocean Cruises family. As with the Island Princess ship, there were also a number of people on board the Viking Star that reported feeling ill due to a norovirus outbreak around the same time (February 7–14, 2019). In response to the outbreak, the CDC Vessel Sanitation Program has been monitoring the situation and the ship’s outbreak response and sanitation procedures. Meanwhile, the crew increased cleaning and disinfection procedures, collected stool specimens from passengers and/or crew and sent the specimens to the CDC Calicivirus lab, sent multiple daily reports of gastrointestinal illness cases to VSP, and consulted with VSP about sanitation cleaning procedures and reporting ill cases.


On the plus side, several ships earned a perfect score (although they still had some minor recommendations — e.g. choosing easier-to-clean materials). These ships include:

-Celebrity Summit (Celebrity Cruises)
-Rhapsody of the Seas (Royal Caribbean)
-Disney Wonder (Disney Cruise Lines)
-Seabourne Quest
-Viking Star (Viking Ocean Cruises)
-Aurora (P&O Cruises)
-Disney Fantasy (Disney Cruise Lines)
-Noordam (Holland America Line)
-Sea Princess (Princess Cruises)
-Disney Dream (Disney Cruise Lines)
-Amsterdam (Holland America Line)
-AIDAVITA (Aida Cruises)
-Emerald Princess (Princess Cruises)


So, there you have it. These are the dirtiest cruise ships out there. Now, take a look at the ten largest cruise ships in the world.