Smoking Poll Demonstrates The Cruiselines’ Conundrum

Thank you to all of our readers who responded in our smoking poll. The results demonstrate the conundrum in which the cruise lines find themselves. If they have more restrictive smoking policies they please non-smokers. If they restrict smoking more extensively they risk losing all smokers.

According to the American Lung Association, approximately 21 percent of American adults smoke. Businesses don’t often wish to alienate such a large group of potential customers. Carnival experimented with a completely smoke free cruise ship a few year ago. The running theory as to why it failed was that a smoke free ship eliminated bookings by groups. If a group is trying to plan a cruise had just one smoker in the group, that ship was eliminated from the choices.

In order to accommodate both smokers and non-smokers, most cruise ships have adopted smoking policies that designated smoking areas and non-smoking areas throughout the ship. Generally they allow smoking on one side of the ship and restrict it on the other side. On nearly every line, smoking is prohibited completely in areas where it is most offensive to non-smokers like the dining room and theater. However, many lines do allow smoking in some state rooms and on balconies. Similarly, most cruise lines have very little smoking restrictions in their casinos, where they want to keep smokers stationary and happily gambling in the casino.

Still these measures have not pleased all non-smokers. Sensitive passengers are bothered by smoking on one side of the room, even when they are seated on the other side of the ship. Often the centered dance floors receive smoke from nearby smokers. Non-smoking passengers who have booked balconies have reported not being able to utilize them during their cruise because of smokers on either side. Even though they are outdoors, the close proximity allows the smoke to waft over to their balcony. From my own experience, I have never been bothered by balcony smoke, but have spent less than ten minutes total in the casinos on board each cruise because they are often the smokiest place on the ship. Maybe that’s a good thing. 😉

Finally, the cruise lines have struggled with the issue of the fire hazard cause by in room and on balcony smoking. While a land based hotel fire can be extremely dangerous, a cruise ship fire has the added risk of the remote isolation of the vessel, the fire firefighters more limited ways to fight the fire and fewer options to evacuate the passengers to safety. Cruise lines already restrict other fire hazards like candles and travel irons. I would think that smoking would surely present an equal fire hazard.

Celebrity Cruises recently announced that they will be placing additional restrictions on where their passengers can smoke. Rumors abound that other cruise lines will not be far behind. The new Celebrity restrictions prohibit smoking in rooms and on balconies, which seem to be the biggest “Deal Breaker” or biggest “Hit” with potential cruisers. Most smokers want to be able to have a cigarette in their room or balcony before bed and first thing in the morning. Non-smokers appreciate a smoke free room not utilized by smokers on a prior cruise and smoke free balconies. As of today, here are the results of our unscientific online survey:

If you smoke, would you cruise on a line that prohibits in-room and balcony smoking?

  • I don't smoke and welcome the more restrictive policies (41%, 87 Votes)
  • No, It is too much trouble to have to leave my room any time I want to smoke (33%, 69 Votes)
  • Yes, I can easily make my way to the designated smoking areas (16%, 34 Votes)
  • I have cancelled a cruise due to a recently implemented more restrictive smoking policy (5%, 11 Votes)
  • I don't smoke, but my sailing companions do and they won't cruise unless they can smoke in their room (5%, 10 Votes)

Total Voters: 211


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As of today, (please note, the poll remains open for voting), our results show that although 42% of our readers are happy with the change, 43% of our readers view the restrictions as a negative with 31% choosing a different ship or form of vacation, 6% having canceled a planned cruise, and another 6% canceling or changing cruise plans because their travel companions smoke. Recent cruisers have reported filling out smoking policies surveys as part of the requested passenger feedback forms. Quite possibly their survey results indicated a smaller percentage of passengers objecting to the change. It will be interesting to see if Celebrity’s bookings will be affected by the change.

I personally will appreciate the cleaner air. However, I regret that Celebrity, and perhaps all cruising, will no longer be an option for several of my older relatives who smoke. It would be too inconvenient for them if they can’t smoke in their room or on a balcony. It will be interesting to see if this becomes and industry wide standard, or proves too cost prohibitive when implemented.