Which cruise lines have the cleanest ships according to recent inspections?  We examined the health inspection scores of hundreds of cruise ships to see how each cruise line did.

Photo Credit: Cruise Fever

Cruise ships that stop at U.S. ports are scored on a 100-point scale according to the VSP (Vessel Sanitation Program) which is run by the CDC.  These health and sanitation inspections are unannounced and can occur two times a year.

The CDC posts the results of these USPH (United States Public Health) inspections on their website.

We looked at ship inspection scores from January of 2022 and onward.  This data has been compiled by calculating the average score of all the ships within a cruise line’s fleet that were inspected during this time frame.

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*I should note that this data is not a perfect measurement since some cruise lines have many more vessels than others, which could skew the results to either side of the spectrum.  However, only cruise lines that had at least 5 or more inspections were included in this article.

The results below are ordered by the average score, and other data is provided as well, like the lowest and highest scores achieved with specific ships.

Only cruise lines with ships that frequent U.S. cruise ports were included in this list.

Photo Credit: Cruise Fever

1. Disney Cruise Line

7 times Disney cruise ships were inspected since January of 2022, with Disney Magic and Disney Wonder being inspected twice.

The average score was 99.14.  None of the ships had a failing score of 85 or lower.

4 vessels with the cruise line scored a perfect 100.  These ships included Disney Fantasy, Disney Magic, Disney Wish, and Disney Wonder.

The lowest score on the list was a 96, scored by Disney Wonder in June of 2023 which earlier had scored a 100 in January of the same year.

2. Celebrity Cruises

11 times Celebrity cruise ships were inspected since January of 2022, with Celebrity Equinox being inspected twice.

The average score was 98.45.  None of the ships had a failing score of 85 or lower.

5 vessels with the cruise line scored a perfect 100.  These ships included Celebrity Eclipse, Celebrity Edge, Celebrity Millenium, Celebrity Solstice, and Celebrity Summit.

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The lowest scores on the list were Celebrity Reflection with a 95, and both Apex and Silhouette scored a 98.

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3. Norwegian Cruise Line

17 times Norwegian Cruise Line ships were inspected since January of 2022, with Norwegian Encore and Norwegian Sun being inspected twice.

The average score was 97.29.  None of the ships had a failing score of 85 or lower.

4 vessels with the cruise line scored a perfect 100.  These ships included Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Joy, Norwegian Pearl, and Norwegian Sun.

The lowest score on the list was an 89, scored by Norwegian Epic in April of 2023.

4. Royal Caribbean International

27 times Royal Caribbean cruise ships were inspected since January of 2022, Independence of the Seas, Serenade of the Seas, and Wonder of the Seas being inspected twice.

The average score was 96.85.  None of the ships had a failing score of 85 or lower.

4 of the vessels with the cruise line scored a perfect 100.  These ships included Allure of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas, and Wonder of the Seas

The lowest score on the list was a 92, scored by Oasis of the Seas in July of 2023.

5. Holland America Line

12 times Holland America Line ships were inspected since January of 2022, with Eurodam and Nieuw Amsterdam being inspected twice.

The average score was 96.83.  None of the ships had a failing score of 85 or lower.

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2 vessels with the cruise line scored a perfect 100.  These ships included Eurodam and Rotterdam.

The lowest score on the list was a 90, scored by Noordam in April of 2023.

6. Carnival Cruise Line

Since January of 2022, Carnival cruise ships were inspected 32 times, 8 of the ships being inspected twice during that time frame.

The average score was 96.  None of the ships had a failing score of 85 or lower.

6 vessels with the cruise line scored a perfect 100.  These ships included Carnival Celebration, Carnival Conquest, Carnival Magic, Carnival Panorama, Carnival Sunshine, and Carnival Venezia.

The lowest scores on the list were from Carnival Pride and Carnival Liberty which both scored an 86 in April of 2023.

7. Princess Cruises

16 times Princess Cruises ships were inspected since January of 2022, with Emerald Princess and Royal Princess being inspected twice.

The average score was 95.37.  None of the ships had a failing score of 85 or lower.

None of the vessels with the cruise line scored a perfect 100.

The lowest score on the list was a 90, scored by Sapphire Princess in June of 2023.

8. MSC Cruises

Although MSC Cruises has 23 cruise ships in the fleet, many of them are in Europe and overseas from the U.S., and so only 6 times have MSC cruise vessels been inspected by USPH since January of 2022.

The average score was 91.66.  One cruise ship, MSC Seaside, received a failing score with a 67 in April of 2023.  The report from that failing score can be seen here on the CDC’s website.

One vessel with the cruise line scored a perfect 100, which was MSC Seascape in February of 2023.

Final Thoughts

Other cruise lines like Azamara, Seabourn, Viking, Oceania, and Virgin Voyages received high marks of 98 or higher on average as well.   These were not included as only 2 or 3 ships were inspected during this timeframe and our criteria required at least 5 ship inspections, but I still wanted to mention them here.

The Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) conducts unannounced operational sanitation inspections of cruise ships sailing in the United States or within 15 days of arriving at a U.S. port. The VSP inspection criteria are based on the FDA Food Code and the World Health Organization’s Guide to Ship Sanitation.

In 2022, the VSP conducted 2,235 operational sanitation inspections of cruise ships. Of these inspections, 98.6% resulted in a passing score.  A failing score is anything below an 86 out of 100.

What areas of the ship are inspected

Below are the 8 main areas of the cruise ship that are inspected:

Medical facilities
Portable water systems
Swimming pools and spas
Galleys and dining rooms
Child activity centers
Hotel accommodations
Ventilation systems
Common areas of the ship

If a cruise ship doesn’t pass the VSP’s inspection, here are a few things they might do:

They could ask the cruise ship to fix things before it sets sail.
They might put the cruise ship on a sort of probation for sailing.
They could suggest that the cruise ship shouldn’t sail at all.

Read more:  What is the total capacity of every cruise ship in the world combined?

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