Members Speak Out: Smoking on Cruise Ships

Editor's note: This story is from the Cruise Critic Archives. Content was up to date at time of publication.

What do you all think about onboard smoking policies getting more restrictive?

The question was posed after a veritable mob of cruise lines toughened up their stances on smoking, seemingly one right after the other. Celebrity and Royal Caribbean, for example, are phasing in prohibiting smoking in cabins (verandahs are still can-puff zones); violators may be slammed with a $250 cleaning fee! The U.K.'s P&O, too, recently changed its policy, designating only one indoor public area for smokers to light up -- the rest are off limits. (For specific line-by-line policies, check out our At Your Service: Cruise Line Smoking Policies.)

One of the reasons the smoking issue is so inflammatory (pun intended) is because opinions vary so widely -- and are passionately upheld on both ends of the spectrum. In fact, it fires up Cruise Critic members so much that for some, the topic has become too taboo for public discussion. "I will not post on this subject because I have read the posts viciously attacking smokers," one reader wrote in. "I was hesitant to write this e-mail. I ask to remain anonymous." Donna White says, "I appreciate you giving everyone a chance to discuss this obviously sensitive subject."

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So what exactly did you all have to say about smoking policies, smoking etiquette and just smoking in general? Are the policies great … or too restrictive? Will they be enforced? And how will the rules impact you or your decision to cruise? Of course, these answers are the most interesting piece of the puzzle -- and opinions were here, there and everywhere.

We've compiled some of the responses below. Still fired up about this issue? Tell us what you think -- drop an e-mail to; please put "Smoking" in the subject line.

I Smoke, And...

I am a smoker and I am very disappointed in the extreme changes some of the cruise lines are making to their smoking policies. In many cases the new policies have cited the fact that the "majority" of their customers are non-smokers, which I don't doubt .… If all of their decisions are going to be based on what the majority wants, then they should be willing to do some of the other things the "majority" would like to see like lower their fares, offer free wine at dinner and eliminate dress codes. There may even be some other groups of passengers that "the majority" of passengers would like to see excluded such as children or folks with tattoos and tank tops. -- Kay Adams

As a smoker I am sick and tired of being "stuck" in a corner when I need a smoke; we smokers also have rights. On a recent cruise my husband and I took we were relegated to a small corner of the pool deck for our smokes, the place was always full, sometimes there weren't enough seats for everyone. I really don't think that one lounge is enough. -- Ann Rafferty

I am a smoker and agree with the policy of no smoking in cabins. It is a safety issue as well as imposing on other passengers. But does anyone think it is really a "wellness" issue? Why didn't they ban smoking in the casinos? It's really a bottom line money issue. If they really are concerned about "wellness," why don't they do something about the rampant, out of control alcohol abuse on cruises. I would suggest that it is due to a judgmental prejudice against smokers while it is still chic to become intoxicated. -- Anonymous

I am a smoker, and a big time cruiser…. I don't mind that ships are making more designated smoking areas. I do respect the right of non-smokers and usually will make it a point not to smoke near a non-smoker, therefore staying on the smokers' side of the ship and not walking the corridors with a lighted cigarette. What really bothers me is the banning of smoking on balconies. I don't even mind the banning of smoking in cabins. I usually get a balcony cabin and smoke out there anyway. If I'm going to pay for a balcony cabin I think I should be able to smoke on the balcony. -- Sharon Cheff

I Quit, And...

I am an ex-smoker. I do sympathize with smokers who are not able to quit and those who choose not to quit. I believe that as long as smoking is legal, there should be someplace for smokers; however in saying that, I also believe non-smokers should not be subject to second hand smoke. -- Marilyn Fraser

I was a heavy smoker and have given it up almost 6 months ago and I really welcome that they will stop smoking in cabins and hopefully have some public areas without smoking. We recently returned from a 20 night cruise aboard the Westerdam and I actually saw people smoking on their verandah in their cabin and flicking their ash. Besides all of us breathing in secondhand smoke, it is a fire hazard and one sees this taking place very often on the swimming pool decks as well, flicking ash and throwing live cigarettes overboard. There should be heavy fines as well for people who behave in that manner. -- Helenecruise

I'm a Non-smoker, And...

We cruised on [an RCI ship] out of Tampa last year and I couldn't believe the secondhand smoke in the enclosed common ways we had to pass through to get from point A to B. Secondhand smoke isn't just a nuisance it was once thought to be. It is a big health hazard. We won't be cruising on RCCL ships in the future until they and other lines make the enclosed areas smoke free. -- Ford Easton

I am a non smoker with asthma. Smoke can make me very ill. Just being in a room where someone has smoked bothers me. I find the smell which is left in the carpet and the furnishings to be very irritating, so I am all for a ban. I hope that other cruise lines would follow suit. -- Momasita5

This discrimination against smokers has got to stop; all people's rights should be respected ... By the way -- I don't smoke -- never have. But I have my addictions: Diet Coke and chocolate. -- Doug Faas

Bring on the Restrictions

I think it'll be a good thing to provide a restricted, smoke-free cruise line. Then the masses of rabid, intolerant, non-smoking cruisers who complain bitterly about the health risks to themselves from second hand smoke can breathe easier -- while they shovel down massive amounts of fast food, sweets and liquor on their cruise. Health concerns, indeed ... I would welcome a smoke-free cruise line to accommodate those who cannot or will not tolerate cigarette or cigar smoke. They are entitled to enjoy their cruise and I am entitled to enjoy my cruise -- with my cigarette and without their complaining. -- SoCalRick

It is true when one of your neighbors smokes we have to go into the cabin because the smoke really affects our enjoyment of the balcony. We are seniors and enjoy reading on the balcony but not when the neighbors are out there smoking. Even if we try to explain to the neighbors that we are non-smokers they either ignore our requests or get angry that we would even bring up the subject. They are on vacation too and feel they can do whatever they please regardless of our pleas ... So anything a cruise line can do is great for us and we will sail on them before the smoky lines. -- Barb Shulman

Give Me My Money Back

I have just come off the phone to P&O regarding the new no smoking policy. We have booked a Panama Canal cruise over the Christmas period. I fully understand the restrictions on smoking in any food areas or in theatre or show lounges, but I do feel that there should be at least one bar or an area in a bar where smokers can sit in relative comfort and enjoy a drink. We certainly don't pay any less for the cruise. I have been told that I have to write to customer relations to see if they can refund any of my deposit if I cancel. My biggest complaint is that before we booked we made our travel agent phone P&O regarding their smoking policy and was assured that smoking was allowed in the stateroom and in selected areas around the ship. -- Seabis

Well, here we go again! Mention the forbidden word beginning with "S" and irrespective of what your question or query is, the members of the "Nicotine Inquisition" come riding into town, all guns blazing. I had a similar problem with Celebrity earlier this year when they changed their policy. I had a long and protracted correspondence with them and they weren't prepared to refund my deposit. I finally took legal advice and was advised that I had a fairly strong case under U.K. contract law. I wrote to Celebrity to let them know that I intended to file a claim against them. Surprise, surprise ... seven days later I received a full refund. -- FoxyG

On a recent cruise on NCL in the Mediterranean, my mini-suite balcony was virtually unusable because of the smokers on balconies forward. Every time I would go out for some fresh air, I would get a downstream of cigarette and cigar smoke. Very unpleasant. So I've decided I will no longer waste money to purchase balcony cabins for future sailings. What's the sense if you can't breathe freely on your own balcony? -- Aberton

Hey Wait, We're Courteous!

I agree smoking is not good for one's health, however, the tobacco industry has been around for decades and probably will continue to be here for several more decades, so smokers will be around for a long time. My husband is a very courteous smoker and always makes sure he is not offending anyone. He even goes as far as putting his crushed out cigarette butts in his pocket when we visit somewhere where ashtrays are not available. I would hate to think we could not take a cruise in the future because cruise lines have gone non-smoking. -- Barbara LaMarche

I understand smokers irk the heck out of some people, but then some people are always looking for something to get irked about, also. Never have I had a cabin that smelled like smoke, so apparently the crew does an excellent job of getting the smell out. We always get a balcony cabin so we can go out on the balcony to smoke, if we choose. If the ships go to no smoking in a balcony cabin, then we are done cruising. As far as burns anyplace from a smoker, to me that is unacceptable. If you're going to smoke, be a thoughtful smoker. If you burn something, be prepared to pay the damages. My thoughts are I would rather be around a smoker then an obnoxious drunk. But it's not for me to try and get alcohol banned, ridiculous. -- Gloria Lund

I am a nicotine addict but I abide by the no smoking policies whatever the location. I go out of my way to not subject non-smokers to my smoking. In a normal day there is always a place where a smoker can retreat to enjoy a cigarette or two and not be offensive to the non-smoking public. As long as cruise ships provide a haven for smokers, I will continue to cruise. If however, smoking is totally banned, I would be one less cruiser. -- Anonymous

There Are Worse Things...

I am allergic to perfume and I sneeze continuously the second someone gets into the elevator with perfume on - and a lot of women wear heavy perfume and so do men these days. I don't ask them to get off the elevator or not wear perfume or move away from me. I just put up with it until I can move out of the way. This sometimes even means changing my dining table. -- Lois Erskine

I feel confident in saying that the new rules won't be enforced. As I mentioned previously, people ignored the already posted "no-smoking" signs. The staff never once made a move to ask someone to smoke elsewhere, even while they watched me nearly choke on the smoke. I had to leave the lounges, not the smokers who were violating posted policies. I think that passing this new policy was just a PR move to make them look like they are following the new health trend. -- Barbara I

If we are going to tackle the smoking issue, let's also address the drinking issues. How do you think these people fall off cruise ships? Too much to drink and they become Leonardo DiCaprio and try to stand on the railings. It certainly isn't from cigarette smoke. Personally, I'd rather deal with the smokers than the drinkers. Let's work on a happy medium here folks. -- Barbara LaMarche

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