Cruisers often look forward to the food they will be encountering on the cruise. Delicious, mouthwatering cuisine, cooked by only professional chefs using the freshest ingredients. However, some unfortunate circumstances have caused pathogenic outbreaks to occur in cruise ships in the past. There are certain risks involved with dining on a cruise; such as the possibility of contracting bacteria and developing diarrhea. These are enough to ruin one’s cruise vacation, and although the condition is rare, the best advice for cruisers is to do their homework before boarding the cruise.
There are tips you can follow while dining on the cruise to keep yourself safe and healthy. First would be to avoid drinking tap water; you are better off consuming a bottle of mineral water that has been filtered, cleaned, and packaged. Drinking unsafe water is a notorious culprit for causing diarrhea and amoebiasis. Also, when ordering meats and various types of seafood from the cruise kitchens, make sure that you order them well-cooked, because this is the only way you will be able to guarantee that harmful bacteria has been killed off. When eating at a buffet, ensure that you are eating freshly placed and cooked food. Food that has been exposed to air for long periods of time may allow it to contaminate viruses and bacteria that are airborne.
In the same way, when eating foods at certain ports of call, practice the same precaution. You may try being adventurous and consuming exotic local delicacies, but if your stomach can’t handle it you may be in for disaster. Street foods in some cities are not always checked by health inspectors, likewise with some restaurants, as it has been part of their culture to eat raw food. You should be careful; just because their local culture has developed enzymes to digest these foods does not necessarily mean you do.
You’ll also be glad to know that an agency has been specially assigned to inspect the sanitation and cleanliness of cruise ships. The U.S. Center for Disease Control has a program called the Vessel Sanitation Program, or VSP. The program, which began in the 1970’s, was designed to reduce the risk of diseases caught while on a cruise. The VSP checks 140 cruise ships each year that participate in the program. They check employee hygiene, pools, spas, water cleanliness, food and food sanitation.
Cruise goers can check the list of sanitary inspections on the Center for Disease Control website, where a list of the scores are posted. You can also ask your travel agency for a copy of the list, called the Summary of Sanitary Inspections of International Cruise Ships. This is a big help for cruisers, but the most important thing still remains to be awareness on the part of the cruiser in terms of what they put into their stomachs.