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BE SURE CRUISE SHIP FOLLOWS HEALTH GUIDELINES

Cruise ships are usually very safe places, where disease outbreaks rarely happen. But during the summer of 1994, Legionnaires' disease broke out on the ship Horizon, owned by Celebrity Cruises.

Legionnaires' disease is an airborne, pneumonia-like disease that can cause death among the high-risk group. Poorly maintained air-conditioning and humidifying systems as well as unsanitary whirlpools have long been targeted by the Centers for Disease Control as sources of the disease.After the outbreak, CDC officials met with cruise-industry officials and laid down stricter guidelines. The new voluntary rules call for changing hot tub filters more often, testing the water hourly, raising the chlorination level and improving maintenance levels.

The Berkeley Wellness Letter suggests that before you sign on for a cruise, you should ask your booking agent whether the ship you're considering adheres to the new guidelines.

The U.S. Public Health Service will also tell you how a specific ship scored on its last sanitary inspection. A score over 86 is acceptable. Write: 1015 North American Way, Suite 107, Miami, FL 33132.