As this special cruise issue was being prepared, the Center for Disease Control (CDC), a branch of the US Department of Health and Human Services, released its figures on sanitation standards for cruise ships sailing from US ports. Of 60 ships that sail regularly, 15 failed, including Cunard Line's QE2 and Paquet French Cruises' Mermoz, featured in this issue.
According to John Yashuk, chief of vessel sanitation activity for the CDC, 15 out of 60 is not an unusual figure. He says the department estimates that at any one time 65-70 percent of ships pass inspection. Inspections are unannounced and generally semiannual, though ''those who fail we inspect more often,'' Mr. Yashuk said.
As of this writing, 68 percent of the ships currently sailing have passed.
A Paquet spokesman, Martin Salzedo, said the Mermoz will be going into drydock in the latter part of this year, at which time the ship will be brought up to standard. Any changes that can be made without putting the ship into drydock are being taken care of now, according to Mr. Salzedo.
Alice Marshall of Cunard explained that the CDC inspection of the QE2 was done in April and that a number of changes have since been made on the ship. Cunard has also hired sanitation consultants recommended by the CDC. Cunard has requested another inspection, according to Ms. Marshall. ''And we're confident we'll pass,'' she adds.
Other ships that sail regularly from US ports and failed to pass are: the Azure Seas, Boheme, Cunard Princess, Nordic Prince, Royal Viking Star, Santa Magdalena, Santa Maria, Santa Mariana, Santa Mercedes, Scandinavian Sea, Scandinavian Sun, Southward, Tropicale, Universe, and Victoria.
Ships that occasionally or seasonally sail out of US ports and did not pass are: Astor, Prince George, Stella Solaris, Berlin, Canberra, Enna G., Eugenio C. , Federico C., Klek, and Sea Princess.