Smoking on Cruise Ships: The Great Debate

September 9, 2013 | By | 32 Comments

Just as we’ve watched tolerance of smoking in public areas, such as restaurants, parks and the workplace, diminish over time, we’re seeing a similar trend hit the high seas. There’s no denying it: Cruise lines are cracking down, too. What began as smoking bans in cabins and public areas is expanding to include cabin balconies and more (MSC Cruises has even banned smoking in one of its ship’s casinos).
But it’s not a surprise to us. The majority of cruisers always have been in favor of tighter bans and restrictions. Since our daily poll began running in 2007, we’ve seen some pretty consistent results. (See one of our first polls on smoking below.) And as you will see in our latest poll — which we ran in light of Royal Caribbean‘s new smoking ban on cabin balconies — the overall stance has not changed.
What we asked: Smoking on cruise ships should be ___.
What they said: Similar to our earlier results, more than half of our poll-takers feel strongly about anti-smoking enforcements onboard. Although the minority feels just as passionate about their beliefs, cruise lines tailor their decisions to the mass market, so the latest smoking bans aren’t likely to go away anytime soon.
Vote in today’s daily poll by scrolling to the bottom right.
See a list of individual cruise line smoking policies.
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    32 Responses to “Smoking on Cruise Ships: The Great Debate”

    1. S Harris
      September 10th, 2013 @ 6:15 am

      I am slightly anxious about my first cruise in October with Costa as I have many postings describing the commonplace smoking situation inside the ship.
      I worry about the fire hazard risk and also I hate the smell that gets on me, gives me a headache and that lingers in rooms. It also distresses my fourteen year old son.
      I would book a non smoking ship definitely if possible.

    2. N. Cavallin
      September 10th, 2013 @ 9:03 am

      S. Harris’s first concern should be, that she chose Costa
      Cruises. I think somewhere to have a cigar or cigarette
      at the end of night, or after dinner should be allowed.
      Especially if you are outside.

    3. tyra young
      September 10th, 2013 @ 1:54 pm

      No one who smokes feels comfortable having to go to a designated place to smoke. We have always booked balconies or suites for this reason. To top it off, these areas are never cleaned up of glasses, etc, making you feel like a dirty outcast. The lines should have smoking balcony cabins. Heck, they could put us at the aft, with all the smoke the ship makes. I have been on 14 cruises and for this reason alone, I am going to protest and not cruise this year, or until they give smokers back their rights!

    4. Dave MacDonald
      September 11th, 2013 @ 12:44 pm

      I wouldn’t be opposed to allowing smoking on balconies except for the ignorant few. I was on one cruise, with balcony, and had the ‘pleasure’ of cleaning cigarette butts off my deck most mornings because someone nearby thought they could flick the butts into the ocean. I am just glad that none came back into our cabin as we liked to leave the door open, whenever possible. It is a safety issue, no smoking except in designated areas.

    5. peggy and john smith
      September 11th, 2013 @ 2:34 pm

      we have 70 some odd cruises under our belt
      the day that we cannot find a ship with an inside cigar lounge, we would, much to our chagrin, in all probability give up cruising.
      we love cruising and it is one of our true pleasures in life. over the years we have watched smoking areas shrink to practically zilch. i daresay we smokers have much less than 5% of the public places on ships now days. i think it is a shame. we respect the rights of those who do not smoke. however, we smokers get absolutely no respect in return, and i think that tide should turn just a little bit. that’s all we ask.

    6. Greg Raven
      September 11th, 2013 @ 4:15 pm

      I am perfectly content to be allowed to smoke my cigars on the upper aft section of Celebrity boats. Since I rarely have more than one a day, this suits me quite well. What doesn’t please me are those few who wish to force their non-smoking preference onto me and my fellows smokers.
      Our experience has been most fellow passengers are quite OK with a “smoking allowed” location on board. Do I miss smoking on the balcony….sure….but I am willing to forego that convenience in order to be allowed to smoke hassle-free in a designated location.
      Like those with tattoos, it’s never the smokers who have issue with non-smokers…it’s the other way around.
      And please spare me the health issues…I am so very aware of ALL of your “points”…leave us to our small section of the ship and we’ll stay out of your way.
      Deal with it !!!

    7. Jim Bishop
      September 11th, 2013 @ 4:21 pm

      sorry but if the cruise lines completly ban smoking they will lose me as a customer and I speak for a great number of other cruise customers. Who or what is the next ban fat people or old people? Keep it up and the old all inclusive resorts will pick up the crowds and you can start carrying cargo.

    8. Angie Fernandez
      September 12th, 2013 @ 8:30 am

      Paying the same fee as non smokers why do I not get the same respect. I think smokers are really being ostraczied and I don’t think I will be doing any cruises on ships with non smoking balconies, I pay extra for that and I cannot see the harm expecially when I am a considerate smoker and would not throw butts in the sea or on a neighbors balcony.

    9. SONYA
      September 12th, 2013 @ 9:08 am


    10. Dick
      September 12th, 2013 @ 11:58 am

      Like Sonya, I will quit cruising with Carnival if they ban smoking on balconies. I have had many cruises with Carnival and book balcony cabins in order to smoke. The wind is enough to blow the smoke away so that it doesn’t bother anyone else on the ship. I always use an ashtray and carefully extinguish the cigarettes.

    11. A Busfield
      September 12th, 2013 @ 5:09 pm

      Having done numerous cruises with Royal Caribbean i am really annoyed they have now decided to ban smoking on private balconies We pay extra for the privilege, and i for one will be looking for another cruise line We actually did a World cruise this year with P$O thankfully we could smoke on our balcony or i four one would never have gone for such a long time Have some consideration RCI

    12. Scary Anti-smoking Ads Prompt 100,000-plus To Kick Habit | Hujufima
      September 13th, 2013 @ 1:27 am

      […] The majority of cruisers always have been in favor of tighter bans and restrictions. Since our daily poll began running in 2007, weve seen some pretty consistent results. (See one of our first polls on smoking below.) And as you will see in our latest poll which we ran in light of Royal Caribbean s new smoking ban on cabin balconies the overall stance has not changed. What we asked: Smoking on cruise ships should be ___. What they said: Similar to our earlier results, more than half of our poll-takers feel strongly about anti-smoking enforcements onboard. For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit […]

    13. Scary Anti-smoking Ads Prompt 100,000-plus To Kick Habit | Mother Goose
      September 13th, 2013 @ 3:45 am

      […] But its not a surprise to us. The majority of cruisers always have been in favor of tighter bans and restrictions. Since our daily poll began running in 2007, weve seen some pretty consistent results. (See one of our first polls on smoking below.) And as you will see in our latest poll which we ran in light of Royal Caribbean s new smoking ban on cabin balconies the overall stance has not changed. What we asked: Smoking on cruise ships should be ___. For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit […]

    14. Pat Streeter
      September 13th, 2013 @ 8:39 pm

      I’m delighted that Royal Car. is going smoke free on balconies. Numerous times we’ve been in a balcony that we couldn’t use because of the smoker next door–the last time, it was a cigar smoker, which was, of course, against the rules. When we reported the smell, they told us they couldn’t be sure where it was coming from, so “too bad.” However, when I told them I saw him smoking and gave the cabin number, Royal Car. dealt with it promptly, and the cigar didn’t come back.

      I understand that smokers pay for their space, too, but the stink doesn’t stay on their balcony.

    15. Nicole
      September 14th, 2013 @ 7:03 pm

      As a smoker, I have rights too! It is unfair to not have at least some designated areas and cabins for smokers…they sure have made enough money off us! I guess I will be banning cruises as well!

    16. anonymous
      September 15th, 2013 @ 2:04 am

      We are avid cruisers and I am an addicted smoker. We always have a balcony cabin. Our last cruise was a first with Royal Caribbean, and we liked it so much we put down a deposit for a future cruise. Now I learn with dismay that they have banned smoking on balconies. On sea days it can take me several hours to get ready to leave the cabin, so I don’t intend to throw on clothes and run the length of the ship to find the one place where I might light up. Non-smokers just do not understand.

      We are about to embark on a 34-day cruise on Holland America which, to the best of my knowledge, still allows smoking on balconies. I shudder to think what that would be like if I were to find out that they’ve disallowed it. But the handwriting is on the wall, and it’s just a matter of time. Then I will put my cruising life to rest, or just roll an extra $250 into our budget for the cleaning fee they assess. On second thought, maybe this is just an airline-type maneuver to collect more fees. It just isn’t fair, and I resent the continuing attacks on smokers.

    17. JOAN
      September 16th, 2013 @ 12:00 am

      My husband and I both smoke, and we are considerate smokers. We have been on many cruises, including a world cruise. I know that the rabid anti smokers would say there is no such thing as a considerate smoker, but I noticed that the gamblers don’t care how much you smoke as long as they can gamble!
      the long and the short of it is, we won’t be cruising if we have to get dressed and traipse the length of the ship to have a cigarette. In an enclosed space such as a cruise ship, they are many ways for people to offend others. What about the people who are so fat they can’t walk, and are always in my way? Or how about the people who run over my toes with their scooters? Or the slobbering drunks who wake me in the middle of the night stumbling to their cabin? Or the kids who thunder down the hallway and wake me up in the morning? Or the people who don’t know how to wait their turn, and cut in front of me in the buffet line? Get my drift? Seems like what we really need is a little “live and let live”.

    18. Johan van Coller
      October 17th, 2013 @ 3:28 am

      I am 100% for not smoking in your cabin or balconies, but let the back staterooms on the ship be smoking rooms. That way every cruiser willshould be happy.
      Just my 2 cent

    19. Barbara
      February 16th, 2014 @ 4:04 pm

      I am considering booking a cruise, however the idea of sitting near anyone who smokes will destroy my holiday. As a non smoker, I detest the way smokers think its okay to spit cigarette smoke over me and make my clothes stink and cause me to cough and wheeze. I am glad they have introduced a non-smoking policy. Well done!!

    20. CathyB
      April 1st, 2014 @ 5:35 am

      We don’t smoke and we pay extra to have a balcony so we can enjoy the view, not so we have to keep the door closed 24/7 to avoid those who think it is OK to poison everybody around them. If anyone smokes near me it could be damaging to my health, as I had serious life threatening medical issues last year. All I want is to enjoy a cruise with FRESH AIR not smoke from cigarettes and cigars wafting around all the time. Celebrity have the right idea, ban smoking of ALL types on balconies and cabins. Surely smokers know what damage they are doing to their health as well as other people?

    21. Douglas Holman
      June 12th, 2014 @ 4:08 pm

      Just returned from a 7 day cruise on Royal Caribbean. The new smoking policy was great and made a big difference! Was smoke free on the balcony and clubs so no more inconsiderate and disgusting smokers with their nasty addiction!

    22. Heather
      July 2nd, 2014 @ 3:11 pm

      Doughlas Holman,
      As a considerate smoker, I have found in my many travels it tends to be the non-smokers who are rude and inconsiderate. The amount of times they come into the small smoking area left to us on board and then stand there bitching about the smoke, that is what I am sick of.

    23. CathyB
      July 3rd, 2014 @ 8:33 am

      The smokers are the rudest not the non smokers. Also on our last cruise there was a man smoking INSIDE obviously in a NON SMOKING area when we returned from the late evening show. However, in order not to create a scene, we went a longer way round from our normal route back to where we wanted to be! There, non smokers not being rude, but smokers being selfish. BTW we have not found any considerate smokers on any of our cruises so far. Even in non cruising it is always the smokers being inconsiderate and smoking in non smoking areas. Those of us who do not want to inhale poison, do not get a choice even in non smoking areas.

    24. NC Sanders
      July 14th, 2014 @ 7:42 pm

      I agree that there should be some areas in the back, where smokers could smoke in their balconies or rooms. Some say it is just being rude to try to keep someone from smoking. But I have asthma & already have to go from the front to the back of the ship on floors other than the Promenade because the Casino is so smoke filled. We had a Suite in front of the ship & we were thrilled knowing that so we wouldn’t be disturbed by smoke from others when we went on our balcony. But there was a small area in front that allowed smoking. We weren’t able to use our balcony at all that trip.
      I have no problem with someone smoking as long as they can keep their smoke contained. Put a plastic bag on your head & tie it up to keep the smoke in. Your right to swing your arm stops at the end of my nose. So your smoke should also not be allowed to invade my air.

    25. Susan C
      September 14th, 2014 @ 1:44 pm

      I had resigned myself to the fact that I could handle not having a balcony on which to have a cigarette. I never ever smoked inside the cabin. Furthermore, I alternately use an e-cig. I would save several hundred dollars for something I could not use. So, I thought about booking the Carnival Splendor and after some research found that smoking was NOT allowed on the aft Lido deck where the adult pool is located. That did it. I am not cruising at least until this asinine policy of not smoking (on one side of the ship) in an outdoor area is lifted.

    26. CathyB
      October 31st, 2014 @ 9:25 am

      Just come back from a cruise on Celebrity. Smoking was allowed on the port side of Deck 5, we were on Deck 9 and could smell it every time we ventured out onto the balcony, so smokers do not say it stays within your balcony! Smoking was also allowed on other decks, one port, one starboard, so really, it was difficult to get away from it! There was a mile walk for breast cancer, and we had to go past the smokers happily puffing away while more than 300 people did the walk, they were at the same time applauding the walkers! Also one smoker started smoking on the wrong side where the walk was held, thankfully she was told to move or put it out by the staff! Rather hypocritical, after all, we may have raised money to help treat them in the future??

    27. Will R
      November 13th, 2014 @ 6:16 am

      I was just wondering where do the employees who smoke go as I am sure every ship has a few employees that smoke,
      I would also like to know how will the cruise line know if you are smoking on your balcony or not, because if you do complain about your neighbor then it could be a uncomfortable cruise, what are they going to do, view the camera and see if you are smoking, be careful of your intimate moments if that is the case.
      I wonder how many of these non-smokers sneak alcohol on board, but yet a majority of them talk and have a holier than thou attitude, so what’s next, no alcohol, no fat people, no people with different lifestyles, We talk and try to teach tolerance but really all it is, is just that just cheap talk.
      I understand that Holland America is seeing a huge increase in there bookings from smokers and non smokers, I guess those that are booking on Holland are walking the walk and talking the talk and being tolerant of one another and isn’t that what we are supposed to do.
      Regardless of whether you are a smoker or non smoker I wish you all an awesome cruise

    28. CathyB
      November 14th, 2014 @ 9:25 am

      Will R – How do people sneak alcohol on board, when everything, and I mean everything is scanned every time you come back on board? Also, does that mean that it is only non smokers who would try and sneak alcohol on board and not smokers??? Only asking!

    29. Will R
      November 15th, 2014 @ 7:18 am


      People sneak alcohol on board ship all the time, either in suit cases, wrapped up in socks and put inside your boots, rum runners, the latest trend is using the soda making machine as it will put the carbonation in the container and this gives it the bubbles when the crew looks it over, or putting it inside wine bottles and re-cocking the bottle. personally I think any of these are a lot of trouble to go to, its a lot of money but I will just pay for my alcohol on board ship.
      To answer your question, no I was not saying that only non smokers would try and sneak alcohol on board, I was just asking a question to non-smokers on how they can be if they are, being intolerant of smokers if they are someone who breaks the rules and sneaks alcohol on board, because you see it clearly states that you are not allowed to bring certain alcoholic beverages on board and I have to wonder if there will be a fine of $250.00 if they are discovered to have broken the rule.
      Best cruising to all

    30. CathyB
      November 17th, 2014 @ 3:10 am

      Will R – in answer, I have not seen anyone drinking alcohol that they have sneaked aboard, after all, they would probably drink it in their cabins if they got away with it. Sounds like as you know the way round it, perhaps you have done it yourself? I would be intolerant of anyone breaking rules, and if they get caught, then they should pay the fine and if they continue, to be put off the ship at the next port! Rules have been made for a reason; the ban on smoking for instance, in certain areas are for the good of the passengers and of course the crew who do not want to inhale smoke. People have a right to want to inhale smoke free air. On another matter, children who use the adults only pools and people jumping in where it is banned, should be removed, some cruisers say this happens and the staff ignore them, again the rules are there for a reason, mainly for safety reasons.

    31. Jackie Y
      December 5th, 2014 @ 10:12 pm

      On the Star Princess I researched the smoking areas so I wouldn’t smell smoke on my balcony. I still smelled smoke that was being blown out of the casino with an exhaust fan, but at least it was a tolerable level and not like smoke from next door. The sports bar is now also the cigar bar – we love sports but couldn’t go there to watch any because it was disgusting, and they left the door open so it drifted into the public areas. I would prefer that there be some cabins in the rear of the ship for smokers and limit smoking entirely to the rear of the ship. Casino smoking is a big deterrent to gambling!

    32. Tina P
      March 25th, 2015 @ 9:52 pm

      We have been on many cruises over the years. At least 4 yearly. We like to relax and gamble in the casino’s. We always book a balcony suite, as I am a smoker. Since smoking has been banned on balconies, I must say that every smoker on the ship was in the casino smoking, even if they did not gamble. It was horrific. Usually we will gamble late, however, the smoke was so thick, neither of us could stand it, so we would go back to our suite no later than 10 p.m. It would be much more preferable if some cabins in the rear of the ship were available for smokers. Really doubt if we will be cruising anytime soon. Not because the balconies are non smoking, but the casino’s are, and my husband loves to gamble.

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