Pool rules aboard cruises can leave toddlers out to dry

ByABC News
December 24, 2008, 7:48 PM

— -- Question:Our family took a five-day cruise to Mexico and Belize on Royal Caribbean's Navigator. I researched the cruise line thoroughly through its website and posed many questions to my travel agent.

Although I knew that it would be difficult to travel with my 2-year-old son, as he was not potty-trained, we looked forward to the trip.

On Day 2 at sea, we found out that toddlers who are not potty-trained are not allowed in the pool. I was livid. If we have known about this policy, we would have picked a cheaper cruise or one with a kid's pool.

We also thought their Fisher-Price program for toddlers was a joke. The play sessions consisted of just two buckets of water with some water toys.

When I got home, I wrote to the cruise line CEO. I received a call back from a customer-service agent, who told me that I should have checked the swim-diaper policy on the website. I did, but the policy was not there.

My travel agent won't respond to my e-mails. The vacation was not a good value for my money, since my son's fare was $349.

Sue Johnson, South Riding, Va.

Answer:Booking with a different cruise line wouldn't have given Johnson any more poolside lounge time. No cruise with a U.S. stop will allow swim-diaper clad toddlers in the main swimming pools.

These cruises fall under the purview of the Center for Disease Control's (CDC) Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP), whose mission is to prevent gastrointestinal illnesses on board. The VSP conducts unannounced twice-yearly inspections of cruise ships, scrutinizing a vast checklist of sanitation standards, from food-handling safety to swimming-pool maintenance.

The VSP also provides public health information and safety requirements to cruise lines, including the ban on soggy nappies. The idea is to prevent contamination of pools, and ward off the spread of norovirus, cryptosporidium, giardia and E. coli all of which have caused illness outbreaks after fecal accidents at public pools and water parks on terra firma.