MSC Cruises’ 4,000-guest MSC Seaside received a failing score on her most recent inspection by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The health agency’s report details a slew of infractions and provides corrective actions that the ship, homeported at Port Canaveral, Florida, should undertake.
MSC Seaside Earns Low Score of 67
An inspection report dated April 27, 2023, shows the MSC Seaside received a failing grade of 67 following a shipboard review by CDC inspectors.
Ships must receive a score of at least 85 to pass their inspections, which are unannounced. All cruise ships sailing from US ports are subject to CDC inspection twice yearly.
An overall score of 67 is remarkably low. In fact, according to CDC records, only three other cruise ships have scored below 85 since 2017, and none of those scores was lower than 77.
In 2020, Princess Cruises’ Regal Princess scored 77, and Un-Cruise Adventures’ Safari Endeavour scored 79. In 2017, Compagnie Du Ponant’s Le Boreal scored 84.
MSC Seaside, which began sailing from the Florida port on April 27, has previously scored high on inspections; in February 2019, her overall score was 92, and in April 2018, it was 94.
However, in the CDC’s latest inspection, dozens of items are cited as needing improvement. Some are more egregious than others.
In several instances, for example, flies were spotted in a bar or food handling area, water was found pooled on the deck, and the number of guests and crew were not properly recorded.
Other instances that led to the failing grade were more significant. These included infractions such as self-service tongs, which would have been handled by crew or guests, found to be touching food at the buffet, dried food residue found at the buffet’s pizza preparation counter, and encrusted or wet food residue seen on previously cleaned dishes, cups, pots and pans, and utensils in a Deck 16 galley.
At the dining venue Teppanyaki, old food soil, and pooled water were found inside condiment storage inserts below the grills.
Another serious infraction was observed by one of the CDC inspectors, who watched as a crew member handled raw and bloody hamburger meat and then opened a store room door to obtain supplies without first washing his hands.
CDC Inspections Based on a 100-Point Scale
The CDC rates cruise ships on a 100-point scale based on inspection criteria outlined in its operations manual. The criteria are each assigned a point value, and points are deducted from the score when there is a pattern of similar violations of the same criteria or when there is a single, significant violation.
Inspections can, in theory, lead to a do-not-sail order if the CDC determines there are imminent public health risks, such as a ship’s inability to properly chlorinate drinking water, clean and sanitize food equipment, or dispose of solid or liquid waste, among others.
Cruise lines often tout their high CDC inspection scores, particularly if they earn a perfect score of 100. A search of high scores in recent months found several ships that earned a grade of 100, including Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Edge, Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Fantasy, Silversea Cruises’ Silver Moon, Holland America Line’s Rotterdam, and Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Sunshine, to name a few.
Under CDC rules, MSC Seaside will file a response to her failing score, as each infraction needs to be individually addressed.
The ship is currently sailing 3-, 4- and 7-night Bahamas and Western Caribbean cruises while homeporting at Port Canaveral.
Three- and 4-night Bahamas cruises call at Ocean Cay – MSC Marine Reserve, while the longer Caribbean sailings visit Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico, and Ocean Cay.
The 153,516-gross-ton MSC Seaside, an EVO-class ship, entered service in 2017. She was built at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy.