- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 15, 2003

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Jan. 15 (UPI) — The prestigious Queen Elizabeth 2 winds up the first leg of its 105-day round-the-world cruise in Los Angeles Friday still reeling from the failure of its most recent health inspection.

Inspectors in Fort Lauderdale, where the cruise originated Jan. 7, found cockroaches in the kitchen, mold residue on ice makers and plugged air conditioning drains.

Susan McClure, spokeswoman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Vessel Sanitation Program, said despite the findings, there has been no outbreak of the Norwalk disease that has plagued so many ships.

She said there have been scattered cases of stomach upset, but nothing serious yet.

"We have not seen reports exceeding 2 percent of total passengers or total crew in these reports," she said.

Two percent is the threshold for the CDC to declare a problem on the ship.

Inspectors gave the QE2 a grade of 85 after an examination Jan. 3, one point short of passing. Ironically, Cunard had been working on a cleanup program because of the Norwalk problems on other ships.

Cunard might ask for another inspection when it arrives in Los Angeles, but it's not required.

There are no fines involved, but ship owners have to pay for the second inspection if they want to improve the ship's reputation, which most of them do.

QE2 carries 1,791 passengers at full capacity. It still plies the traditional route across Atlantic between New York and Southampton, England, during the summer. The winter cruise visits 33 ports on six continents, winding up in New York April 23. The list price for the most expensive suite is $365,999.

The ship will be replaced by the new Queen Mary 2 on the summer cruises in 2004.

There have been suspected Norwalk outbreaks of gastrointestinal ailments on eight ships since October. The latest was Jan. 5 when 100 people on the Norway became ill.

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