Vessel Inspection Program

The Vessel Inspection Program involves environmental health inspections of those cruise ships,that enter Sydney Harbour, which we deem to be at high priority. Inspections are conducted by our qualified and experienced Environmental Health Officers, who provide public health guidance to the ship's senior officers at the time of inspection and email a report to the ship's Captain at the completion of the inspection. Inspections are thorough and usually take 5-6 hours to complete. Food safety is not assessed by NSW Health officers, being a responsibility of the NSW Food Authority.

Inspections are undertaken for two separate purposes:

  1. As part of an outbreak team response/investigation and based on preliminary findings of the epidemiological investigation, OR
  2. To assess the ship's compliance with the Vessel Inspection Program Environmental Health Manual

Ships are selected for routine inspection from the Port Authority of NSW cruise ship schedule. The process of prioritising the vessels to be inspected is based on the following criteria:

  • Not been inspected by any government organisation in the previous year
  • Failed score from a previous inspection
  • Outstanding items from a previous inspection
  • Previous outbreak or an elevated number of infectious disease cases reported, OR
  • Not previously visited a Sydney Port

Inspections are undertaken by two officers and are not announced.

The major areas of inspection are:

  • Hygiene and handwashing
  • The potable water supply system
  • The medical facilities, including vaccine storage
  • Recreational water facilities, including swimming and spa pools
  • Childcare facilities
  • Collection, storage and disposal of waste
  • Skin penetration procedures
  • Pest control strategies
  • Cleaning equipment and linen
  • General infection control standards and ventilation systems

In NSW, food safety and inspections are the responsibility of the NSW Food Authority. Where there is concern about food hygiene or the ship's operator requires advice on food safety, this would be referred to the Food Authority.

To contact the South Eastern Sydney Public Health Unit's Cruise Ship Program email us or phone (02) 9382 8333 during business hours.