Cruise Lines and Their Smoking/Non-Smoking Passengers
Written by: Rita
I am so heartened to read all of the feedback on last week’s entry to this blog. That’s exactly what I want this blog to be – a two-way street with all of us expressing our feelings to each other. Who knows? Maybe together we can all come up with some good ideas to make our cruises better. I do know that some of the cruise lines do have executives who read these missives.
I’ve read each response posted, and here’s what I seem to find. You folks let me know what you think.
I think the whole issue of smoking onboard is one where there’s lots of strong feelings both pro and con. It seems to me that about two-thirds of the responses favor smoking onboard, while one-third do not. I think most people who are against smoking feel that way because the smoke truly bothers them, and impacts their overall shipboard vacation experience. The folks who favor smoking onboard feel that if they could not smoke, it would detract for their cruise experience as well.
Is there any way to please both factions so that everyone has the shipboard experience they are looking for?
I think there is, and I think it is up to the cruise lines to make it so if they want to retain everyone’s business.
A major complaint the non-smokers seem to make is that they cannot enjoy their balconies when a smoker’s balcony is located in their general vicinity. I can understand this complaint entirely. Some people are truly bothered by smoke. They spend the considerable extra money to get a balcony stateroom and then have their enjoyment of that amenity destroyed by others who are smoking on balconies around them.
On the other hand, I would imagine that many smokers purposely book balconies because they need a place to smoke, and the balcony provides that. Maybe they are sharing a stateroom with non-smoking friends or family, and the only place where they can light up without bothering them is on the balcony.
So, it would seem to me that the cruise lines are not doing their part to ensure everyone has the vacation experience they desire. Why can’t the cruise lines simply ask the person making the booking – the travel agent, group leader, or passenger – whether they smoke or not? Smokers will book cabins toward the back of the ship and if non-smokers choose to take one of those aft cabins, they do so knowing that there are likely to be smokers in the cabins around them. Having a balcony at the aft of the ship would also ensure that smoke is blowing backwards and not into the faces of those non-smokers on balconies at the front of the ship.
Of course, this would not be a foolproof solution. There are certainly going to be cases where all of the cabins at the rear of the ship will be booked and a smoker may have no choice but to be located in a cabin towards the front of the ship. Also, there are some people who are adamant about wanting a certain cabin, and regardless of whether they smoke or not, are going to book that cabin. Also, there may be some situations where someone books their cruise late and the only cabins available are in the rear of the ship, forcing them to book in “smokers’ territory.” However, by at least making an effort to segregate the smokers, the cruise lines will do much to improve relations between them and their non-smoking fellow passengers.
The other major complaint I seem to read from the non-smokers is that they can’t enjoy the bar and lounge areas because of excessive smoking. When smokers read this sort of thing, they tend to get annoyed because generally the smoking section in these venues is very small. The non-smokers have the run of the place, and there is no reason they must sit near the small section that the smokers have to enjoy. The smokers complain that non-smokers will often sit in or around the smoking section and then cough and wave their hands in front of their faces, in an attempt to make the smokers uncomfortable.
Can’t we all live together and enjoy the ship together? I say we can, and again I place the responsibility for creating this cohesive environment squarely on the shoulders of the cruise lines. If certain areas of the ship “stink” of cigarette smoke, then I would suggest that maybe the cruise lines need to carefully evaluate the effectiveness of their ventilation systems. Perhaps in many cases the fault lies with a ventilation system that is not properly maintained. There is no reason a room should “reek” of cigarette smoke – especially when smokers tend to occupy it for only relatively short periods of time (i.e., during the evening hours when that lounge is open for business.) If the ventilation system were working properly, it would have no problem removing those odors in such a manner that they would not become at all offensive. Add extra ventilation in the area of the venue that is open to smokers, and I’d bet the problem wouldn’t be half as bad as the non-smokers say it is now. And, non-smokers – if cigarette smoke truly bothers you, why not settle in at a table far removed from the smoking section. Usually the smoking sections are located near the bar area. Most of the lounges onboard most ships have a lot of seats, with bar service, that are nowhere even close to the actual bar.
I know that non-smokers do make an argument that cigarette smoke is harmful even to those who are only exposed to it second-hand. They feel that it is unfair that they have to “compromise” at all. The ships should be 100% non-smoking because smokers have no right to “kill” non-smokers with their noxious smoking fumes. The only question I have for these folks is why they are not boycotting the automobile industry and lobbying against them? Why are you taking all of your frustration out on smokers alone? Believe me, you get far more noxious fumes in your lungs from vehicle exhaust than you could ever get from being exposed to 100 smokers year-round, around the clock.
The smoking debate will never truly be resolved – at least not as long as cigarettes are legal. Sure, smoking is a harmful habit, but it is not the only one. There are plenty of habits that are just as potentially dangerous – gambling, over-eating, drinking to excess, etc., etc. And if you don’t think those bad habits affect you at all, you might want to think again. When the habitual and careless drinker gets into his car after a night on the town, it is you who is affected if you happen to get in his way. Through no fault of your own you could wind up with life-altering injuries in a matter of seconds. Believe me, I know someone who is in just that sort of situation — her life hasn’t been the same since she was plowed into by a drunk driver. Yet it seems that there is far more negative publicity about smokers than there is against these careless drinkers.
True, smokers can have a negative impact on the cruise experience of the non-smoker, but that impact can be greatly reduced if only the cruise lines would take some of the simple steps outlined above. True, those steps would involve more work, more trouble and maybe even a bit more expense – however, in these troubled economic times can the cruise lines honestly afford to turn away any willing customer? Shouldn’t they be more than happy to do whatever is necessary to create a positive cruise experience for their smoking and non-smoking passengers alike?
Does anyone have any additional ideas as to what the cruise lines can do to help both smokers and non-smokers alike to enjoy their cruise experiences? I’ve come up with a few ideas here, but there are far more creative minds than mine in our CruiseMates community, so I’d really like to hear your thoughts and ideas.
(Note: I will be putting up an article in the next week or so detailing the general smoking policies, as they currently stand, for each of the major cruise lines.)
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Posted: February 20th, 2009 under Rita.