Cruise Ship Water Testing

Cruise Vessel Water Testing

InTechWater performs portside specialized microbiological water testing for Legionella and total heterotrophic aerobic bacteria primarily in whirlpool spas (hot tubs) and hot water systems of cruise ships during their portage in South Florida, the cruise line capital of the world.


InTechWater validates under operating conditions, onboard, that bacterial hazards in water have been eliminated, reduced or prevented from harming people. InTechWater's core business is targeted at validating the disinfection of these critical zones aboard a cruise ship.


Fast & Accurate Detection of Waterborne Pathogens

  • Eliminate or Prevent Waterborne Pathogens from Harming Passengers and Crew
  • Providing validation, the evidence that a hazard has been controlled or eliminated.
  • The most defensible way to validate performance is through water testing for the hazard.
  • Targeting critical growth zones (95-130° F); whirlpool spas & hot water systems.
  • Viable sampling & testing using the CDC approved Legionella Isolation Techniques
Pathogen Water Testing Methods

Why Sample & Test Spas & Thermal Water Systems?

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Spas & hot tubs are installed on all cruise ships, some having 4-10 of them on each vessel. The risks are similar to those on land, and there have been several outbreaks on ships due to these whirlpool spas and hot tubs. Hot and cold-water systems and spa pools have been implicated in a number of outbreaks of Legionnaires' disease on ships. Although there are no recorded outbreaks of Legionnaires' disease associated with bathing in swimming pools, there is a risk of Legionellosis from showers in the vicinity of pools.

Thermal water systems, including hot tubs, whirlpool spas, and waterfall features, have been responsible for large outbreaks of Legionnaires' disease. Legionella are a particular problem in these thermal water systems because:

  • The water is at an optimum temperature for them to grow, in the range of 86°-104°F
  • High bather density.
  • Dirt, dead skin cells and organics from bathers using them accumulate, providing food.
  • The piping for the air and water circulation provide a large surface area for the bacteria to grow on.
  • The agitated water forms aerosols and sprays via which the bacteria can be breathed in or inhaled.

Disinfection, cleaning, sampling and testing for Legionella, preferably with third party validation such as InTechWater, are key factors in controlling Legionella in these thermal water systems. The risk of Legionnaires' disease from swimming pools, spas and hot tubs is low if they are well managed.

To ensure there is no doubt that you exercised "reasonable care", significant steps should be taken to identify and appropriately treat all potential sources of Legionella and other waterborne pathogens.


Pathogen Risk Management Programs

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  • A field sampling protocol to obtain viable cell counts (CFU/ml) for total heterotrophic aerobic bacteria (THAB).
  • Legionella pneumophila (serogroup 1 and serogroups 2-14) and all non-pneumophila Legionella species.
  • Water Safety Plans (WSP) to Eliminate or Prevent Waterborne Pathogens from Harming People.
  • Independent evaluation and recommendations of secondary disinfection options.

Independent Validation & Verification

  • Verification that current Water Safety Plan (WSP) is Effectively Managed
  • Validation, Providing Evidence that the Plan is Effective
  • Compare and Review Best Practices in Existing Programs to Cruise Line Industry Benchmarks
  • Provide record keeping processes to monitor & track results and demonstrate due diligence

Sampling & Testing Methodologies - CDC Elite Program

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InTechWater uses a CDC Elite Program field sampling protocol to obtain viable cell concentrations (as CFU/ml) for the following from the same sample:

  • total heterotrophic aerobic bacteria (THAB)
  • Legionella pneumophila (serogroup 1)
  • Legionella pneumophila (serogroup 2-14)
  • non-pneumophila Legionella species

InTechWater's Field Sampler Data is obtained from the exact moment when our field sampler contacts the water sample. Shipment of water samples to the laboratory is not required. Turnaround time required to obtain results is reduced 75-80% compared to the Standard Method for Legionella.

InTechWater's Field Report Test results from our CDC Elite Certified laboratory in Chicago to produce professional defensible third-party validation reports within 2-3 days of sample(s) receipt include:

  • Quantitative viable cell counts and interpretations
  • Digital photographs of the field samplers and authenticity labels

These reports in PDF format can be emailed to client's chosen location(s). InTechWater follows strict measures in security and privacy for our clients in the transmission and delivering of all analytical results and reports.

Pathogen Water Testing Methods

Legionnaires Disease

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Legionellosis, also known as Legionnaires' disease (LD), is a potentially fatal infectious disease caused by the gram negative, aerobic bacteria belonging to the genus Legionella. Over 90% of Legionellosis cases are caused by Legionella pneumophila, a ubiquitous aquatic organism that thrives in temperatures between 25 and 45 °C (77 and 113 °F), with an optimum around 35 °C (95 °F).

There are two types of illness which can develop after being infected with this bacterium:

  • Legionnaires' disease. This causes a lung infection (pneumonia). It is usually a severe illness which is sometimes fatal. The fatality rate of Legionnaires' disease has ranged from 5% to 30% during various outbreaks. The death rate for patients who develop Legionnaire's disease while in the hospital is close to 50%, especially when antibiotics are started late. Most infections occur in those who are middle-age or older.
  • Pontiac fever. This occurs when the bacteria cause a flu-like illness. It is not usually serious. Most people who contract Pontiac Fever do not need to be hospitalized and normally recover within 5 - 7 days.

How do you get Legionnaires' disease or Pontiac fever?

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Legionellosis, also known as Legionnaires' disease (LD,) is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia, first recognized in 1976. Legionnaires' Disease occurs when people breathe mists from water sources contaminated with Legionella bacteria. The disease is normally contracted by inhaling Legionella bacteria deep into the lungs. Legionella species can be found in tiny droplets of water (aerosols) or in droplet nuclei (the particles left after the water has evaporated).

Aerosol-generating devices such as whirlpool spas (hot tubs) and showerheads connected to hot water systems are well documented as sources of Legionnaires' disease. Whirlpool spas (hot tubs) have also been widely acknowledged as a source of exposure in outbreaks. Even guests that are not in these recreational water systems, can be exposed just by being in the vicinity and breathing the water vapor.

Every year in the U.S., there are an estimated 25,000 cases of Legionnaires' disease and 4,000 deaths. On average in America, 11 people die every day from LD. Another 57 people are infected. For those who recover from the acute illness, severe infections may cause long-term debilitating effects in brain function, kidney function and respiratory capacity. There are nearly as many deaths in America each year from LD as there are deaths from workplace accidents.

Noroviruses on Cruise Ships

Contact InTechWater Email: Info@InTechWater.com Telephone: 305-767-3171