Saturday 2 March 2013

Carry On Cruising?

Note: I am not Dick Puddlecote.

For my previous posts about smoking policies while travelling abroad, check out the Bear Tripper tag. So far, I've focussed on air travel and hotels, so this is a slight departure which I hope some might find useful.

Being out of the country for much of the year on business, it is always nice to be able to holiday travel in a more leisurely manner. For me, this means cruising and I usually book trips and take my Mother along with me for company as well as a treat which she enjoys very much.

I used to love to go on cruises, it was such a marvellous way to travel, but have found it to be a trial these days for the smoker. Or a bit of a 'carry on' you could say.

You usually need to keep up to date with the cruise line websites as their policies change quite quickly. I had a great time on the Holland America Line on a cruise to Hawaii. There were a couple of bars where you could smoke. There were a few of us who always went to one of the bars for happy hour and pre-dinner drinks. The bar staff got to know us all very well and got to know what we were drinking. One of the American chaps was actually a stunt double for a very well known character on a show in the 1970s. He was AA so the bar staff had a stash of non-alcoholic beer for him. He smoked like a chimney, was a great guy and had some fun stories to tell. His seat was the one at the bar near the window - nobody else would sit there when we came to realise that was his perch. He told us that he had found out that the bar was to go non-smoking after our cruise. I wonder how that affected profits at that particular bar. People used to come in there and complain to each other loudly about the smoking. However, there were other bars where smoking was not allowed. It really started me thinking how intolerant anti smokers are. Why didn't they go elsewhere? It was probably because I usually sat in smoking bars on the ships with other like minded folks that I hadn't really considered this. It took me back to a cruise about 15 years ago around the Caribbean. One chap was complaining that there were not enough chocolate chips in the choc chip cookies…..I put that down to some folks just wanting to complain.

I was on a trip from New York to Southampton on the QM2 and there were still smoking areas on the ship. In addition you could smoke in the cabins and on the balconies. I was holidaying with my Mother (and, as she didn't smoke, I just went out to the balcony. She was OK with sitting in the smoking areas in the bars. On one occasion a chap came into the bar and complained that there was nowhere to sit. He was pretty loud about it too. The staff offered him a seat and he proclaimed that it was in the smoking area and that he was not going to sit there and demanded a seat in non-smoking. The staff were excellent, moved some seats and sorted it out. Mum said to me that if she ever got that intolerant about anything and made such a fuss then I had full permission to chuck her overboard! We went back on the QM2 more recently for a three week trip and things had changed. For me, no more lounging on the comfy seats in the Commodore bar reading a good book with a cocktail or wine and a cig. It was all non-smoking. However, you could smoke in the Churchill Cigar Lounge which is located in the Commodore bar area. Pre dinner, I would go there and get a drink and chat with fellow passengers. Again it was a close little 'family' and the staff got to know us all. When Mum came to the bar, the staff would come in and tell me that she was there and at which table she was sat. I would then sit with her and go for a cig before we left for dinner.

The other thing that we discovered was that the disco area had a smoking area. That wasn't on the website….but I was pleased to find it was there. The only other smoking areas on the ship were a couple of huddled areas at the back on two of the decks. Still, the QM2 was better than a lot of other ships.

Another thing to be aware of if you cruise transatlantic is that you cannot buy duty free on board to smoke during the trip. If you buy duty free (tobacco or alcohol) it is delivered to your cabin the day before you disembark. On other cruises in other destinations you could buy them and smoke them while aboard.

I also started looking at one of the cruise websites which highlighted smoking friendly ships. I would like to do another cruise but the idea of having to try to find some little area where smoking was allowed was not appealing. The site was an eye opener. I found that some cruise lines had banned smoking in the cabins. Come on folks, can't you hear the 'kerching'? This, of course, meant that the smokers would be 'forced' into paying for balcony cabins. However, those with balconies complained that folks were smoking around them and it ruined their holiday. Even asking them to stop didn't work. Surprised? If someone paid for a balcony so they can smoke, they are going to smoke there. Some apparently complained to the staff and asked them to stop folks smoking. They didn't as they couldn't. Anyway, if you are in the middle of, for example, the Atlantic, and you are moving at a fair rate - how does the cig smoke then gather and go into the room of the next person from your balcony?

The outcome was predictable - cruise lines are now stopping smoking even on balconies so all that's provided is a miserable little area on deck where you can smoke. In bad weather, if there is a 'lockdown' you won't even be able to go use that! Even at that, these cruisers are not happy. They want it banned completely. I wonder if they have considered the 'chimneys' on the ships which push out all sorts of smoke. No? Of course not. It is easier to pick on the smoker.

Apparently Spanish cruise ships are the most tolerant and I also heard that RCI Serenade of the Seas had a lot of complaints ( about the amount of places where smoking is allowed - that sounds like the cruise ship to go on!

Royal Caribbean Serenade of the Seas

So, my advice on any cruise you may want to take is to really investigate the smoking policy on board along with asking the line if there is going to be any change to policy. Things could change between booking and actually going on the cruise. Also look at the cruise websites and forums. These people can be vicious. It has quite put me off giving any of my money to these cruise lines as I don't want to be standing in a legitimate smoking area and have people whining at me ... and paying a fortune to do so. I am happy to do a long haul flight without smoking - but certainly not a 2 week holiday surrounded by intolerants.

I will keep an eye open for any other complaints about the amount of smoking areas on ships and plan accordingly or perhaps I will just have to go with the memories of my cruises when smoking was allowed in a couple of bars and a few more places on deck. I am never short of places to go on holiday - other destinations which don't huddle you in a windy corner outside will probably be very happy to benefit from my cash.

If you have any good (or bad) holiday experiences yourselves - not necessarily restricted to cruising - please share as I'd be very interested to read them.

Happy travels!


nisakiman said...

I actually live in a holiday destination (Corfu, Greece), and if you're looking for a smoker friendly place to go then this is it. There is of course, as per EU regulations, a total smoking ban. and the Greeks, being Greeks, totally ignore it. I can't think of any bar or restaurant that I go to that won't provide me with an ashtray at my table, even in winter when we are all inside.

In the 80s, Corfu got a somewhat tawdry reputation as being the destination of choice for the 18-30 crowd, and indeed if you go to Kavos in the far south you will still find that kind of fuckwittery. However, if you head for the north east of the island, it is truly beautiful. I've travelled extensively in Greece and lived in the Southern Peloponnese, which also has it's attractions, but there is not another island in the Greek archipelago that comes close to here. It is green and lush like nowhere else in Greece, and has the best beaches and clearest waters.

Ha! I'm sounding like a tourist brochure! :) But I didn't come here for nothing. And as I say, if you are a smoker, you will love the Greek approach. No frowns, no wrinkling of noses, no hand waving. Just complete acceptance of the fact that you smoke. No drama, just ashtrays provided. Bars, restaurants, clubs, it makes no difference. As a smoker, you are welcomed.

Trajan. said...

they won't ban drink on cruise ships though will they................

Bear Tripper said...

Of course not - a pretty penny to be made out of that. Then again, it appears that there may be some ships also rethinking the smoking thing due to loss of revenue. Smokers generally drink too - they will have lost out from us looking for other holidays to avoid walking miles to get to the teensy little smoking area.

Bear Tripper said...

I have been to Greece a few times and have enjoyed the freedom to smoke. I expect I may have a week there this year to just relax with a cig without the whining....would be interested in specific places where I can holiday. I suspect others would be very interested too. Thanks for your contribution, please feel free to carry on like a tourist brochure :-)

nisakiman said...

It rather depends on what type of holiday you are looking for. If you are looking for a villa holiday - a bit expensive, but very relaxing and comfortable - I have a couple of clients / friends who own superb villas in the North East of the island, close to the beach and with super views over to Albania. (NB, I don't act as an agent for them, they are just clients who I've done work for who have become friends. No profit motive! :). Really, you can spend as much or as little on accommodation as suits your budget here. If anyone wants specifics, they can always email me via DP.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

If the villa comes with its own pool and walking distance to tavernas, I'd be interested. ;)

trespasserswill said...

I'm another ex-cruiser who used to be very enthusiastic about holidays on the high seas. We used to sail with P&O Princess, went to the Baltic, Madeira and Canaries, and especially the far east and Oz.
I'm glad we went then, because I wouldn't consider it now. In fact I have lost all interest in travel altogether. The opportunity to be made unwelcome on someone else's property, where I lose my freedom of action, is a major turnoff.
Other money I'm not spending- Don't eat out anymore, don't go for a day at the shops anymore (that would have to include a nice luncheon, which is now impossible), don't go to the pub at all.
No stress, no problems, and no expense. You really do save a lot of money when you "drop out".

nisakiman said...

email me.

Bear Tripper said...

me too!

Bear Tripper said...

DP will hopefully pass on the details - that does sound great

Bear Tripper said...

We are on the same page here. i do miss cruising as it was such a nice way to travel. I know that some may say that we should stop smoking rather than stop cruising...but why should we have to make that choice? I don't actually like the attitudes that I have seen from 'fellow cruisers' on the subject of smoking (and drinking, for that matter). Much prefer to be happy and stress free somewhere in the sun without the whining.

I do still go to the local pub but get annoyed in the summer at the whiners who say they have to sit in the smoke - news for you, we have been out there all year round. I don't purposely smoke in their faces but you really do feel like doing that sometimes....

Use that money for a holiday in Greece (as discussed in the other comments here). Sounds to be ideal for those of us who like to have a stress free cig.

What the.... said...


A number of major cruise lines that still had “reasonable” smoking policies have just further tightened these policies.

The vast majority of cruise lines now have what could be termed anti-smoking/smoker policies. If you want to smoke onboard, it is a highly controlled/restricted behavior – hardly a holiday atmosphere for smokers.

Over the last 5-6 years, I’ve kept an eye on smoking policies at holiday resorts (not that I could attend any of these – research purposes only). The antismoking trend began with 5-star resorts. Initially it was nonsmoking rooms that were offered. Then all rooms were made nonsmoking. Some resorts even declared the entire property nonsmoking.

So there was a small percentage of 5-star resorts offering nonsmoking facilities; the percentage became greater and greater. We are now at the point where the vast majority of 5-star resorts are highly smoker unfriendly. And this has all occurred over a short time-frame, i.e., bandwagon effect. There are still some 5-star resorts that cater to some extent for smokers but these are now very few.

The trend has trickled to 4-star resorts. There is now a growing proportion of these offering nonsmoking facilities on a par with 5-star resorts. There is even a small percentage of 3-star resorts offering nonsmoking facilities.

What can be said of the circumstance is that antismoking is elitist. It is the wealthy (and the “educated”) that pushed the trend in their 5-star sphere, i.e., snobbery/bigotry. Smoking has now been manufactured into a lower-class, “uneducated” activity. The wealthy have become [physical] health obsessed (just like earlier last century). These antismoking policies are a way of distancing the smoking riff-raff (even wealthy smokers that haven’t yet gotten with the “health program”), a way of avoiding “contamination” from the “unclean”. A very significant percentage of 4-star resorts and smaller percentage of 3-star resorts have followed suit (copycat, “trendy”).

What the.... said...

The deterioration has happened even more quickly on cruise ships. Up until only a few years ago, most cruise ships banned smoking only in most indoor public areas, particularly eateries. But then the cruise-line “health officers” got moving, tapped into GlobaLink for the most effective tricks/strategies, with the eradication agenda. Now on most cruise ships, smoking is also banned in state rooms and balconies, with only a few designated outdoor smoking areas. The adoption of such draconian policies is made all the easier by antismoking complaints. Complaining/whining is not only an aspect of antismoking bigotry; it’s also an antismoking strategy. The antismoking bigots will go into smoke-permitted areas and complain – loudly and constantly – of the “terrible” smoke. Antismokers promote themselves as health and moral “superiors” that must be accommodated first and foremost. Unfortunately, society (including cruise lines) cannot yet discern the perils of twisted fanaticism, and so they currently fully appease the neurotic antismoking bigots believing this to be “progress”.

There are a number of “cruise blogs”. All of them have adopted the antismoking line. They occasionally will have an antismoking theme and out come the cruising antismokers. Some of the most vile, bigoted comments come from cruising antismokers. They are well-versed in the propaganda; how smokers are ruining antismokers’ holidays and health. They even complain of thirdhand “smoke” getting into the crevices of furniture imperiling innocent antismokers. It’s an extraordinary mental mess.

But the latest deterioration concerns e-gizmos…… this policy from the Sea Princess:
“The use of electronic cigarettes is permitted in all areas onboard with the exception of dining areas and the Princess Theater. However, should a fellow passenger in the vicinity feel inconvenienced and complain, even after being told the difference between electronic cigarettes and real cigarettes, we will ask the passenger to refrain from smoking the electronic cigarette.”

It’s all been put in the hands of the lowest common denominator. You can use the e-gizmo just about anywhere on board. But if anyone complains, even after the e-gizmo is explained to them, you have to put the gadget away like a good little boy/girl because only the complaining of stupid, bigoted people counts.

A recent summary of smoking policies for cruise lines:

George Speller said...

Yup, me too. We'd just got into cruising, done Canaries twice, Icelend, med twice (strictly no fly, first with P&O and then with Princess as the knot tightened. Final blow was the cabin ban, closely followed by a balcony ban. Er. That's it. Now the cruise companies are squeaking. What gets me is they bleat about UK law and then flag their ships out to Bongo Bongo (Maritime) or whatever. Humbug.

Spanish cruise lines? anybody know more?

What the.... said...

This is a comment in response to an obnoxious antismoker complaining about “thirdhand smoke”:

“There’s a good helping of the antismoking fanatics on this board. It’s to be expected with three decades of unquestioned, antismoking propaganda. The gullible have deteriorated into neuroses (e.g., anxiety reactions, hypochondria, somatization) and bigotry. There’s one who believes he has to “dodge” wisps of smoke as if he’s avoiding sarin gas. I’m wondering if his delusion is at least consistent. Is he averse to cooking smoke in the kitchen, or open indoor fires, or candles at the dinner table, or traffic emissions?

Then we have another who’s worried about tobacco-smoke particles getting into furniture crevices and possibly lodging in clothing. As usual, such comments are removed from any coherent context. These particles would be at a barely-detectable trace level and of no demonstrable harm consequence. Also at that level are the chemicals coming from carpet, furniture dressing, and furniture glue. And what about the chemicals in the air fresheners and cleaning agents? Then we have bacterial and viral material all around the place. Cruise ships are notorious for norovirus which can incapacitate large numbers of guests/workers for considerable lengths of time. If pets have ever been on board, there will be animal dander. There will certainly be dead skin cells about, and who knows what bodily fluids and other materials are on bed coverings and flooring. Then what about the particles and chemicals coming from the engine room and from the smoke-stack raining onto the ship when coming to anchor? And what about the particles coming from the kitchens, i.e., cooking smoke?

If one wanted to constantly worry/whine, a cruise ship is a neurotic’s “paradise” which defeats the entire “holiday” purpose. And there are actually considerable hazards (norovirus) and serious dangers such as rogue waves from ship travel. Yet we have people peculiarly concerned/distressed about smoke particles lodged in furniture crevices. For heaven’s sake!!!”

Bear Tripper said...

Totally agree - love the idea of a neurotic's paradise.

Bear Tripper said...

have a look at this...may help a bit (but still not that interested in cruising anymore)

Bear Tripper said...

you forget one thing on this and that is that the wealthy can pay the 'fine' for smoking in hotel rooms (usually about $200 or so). However, when I was stuck in the US due to the ash cloud, I said I would pay the money to smoke. That request was denied. Perhaps if rich and famous the fine would be waived?

Bear Tripper said...

In addition, I was in the smoking area at Birmingham airport. There was a notice to say that if you didn't use the ashtrays you would be removed from the airport. I noticed a bit of litter here and there in the airport - were they threatened with being removed from the airport?

trespasserswill said...

Thanks for your response Tripper.

I entirely agree with you about the bleating whiny fellow travelers who reckon the entire world should be culled to meet their personal specifications, because they are "normal", and they should never feel obliged to shop around, or make choices about where to congregate and feel comfortable. There is no acceptance there, of the concept that not everyone is exactly like you, and they have every right to be different.
Cruising is when you do all sorts of stuff you never do at home. You join in the keep-fit class, the art lessons, the astronomy lectures, the syndicate quiz, the donkey derby, the film club, and the confectionery for beginners class. The junk auction, the bible study group, the promenade deck middle and long distance athletes, the clay pigeon marksmen, the fancy dress competition, and the formation dance teams. And the daily news sheet that you can submit an article for, if you're an aspiring journalist.

All calculated and designed to provide interest and entertainment to people whose outlooks are very diverse.
Except that once you allow any special interest group to capture the scenario, and start stripping out the stuff they aren't personally interested in, you are on the slippery slope to one passenger on a ship who doesn't want to join in with anything, and just wants to sit there and sulk.

trespasserswill said...

Yes indeed. But the cruise lines will lose the very ethos of their existence. Which is a motley bunch of mainly good-natured folk joining together, enjoying shared experiences at their ports of call, and shared exploits together at sea.
Neurotics don't do things like that, because they are not mainly good-natured folk. They detest their fellow human beings, as sources of contagion and corruption.

SadButMadLad said...

Think about the unconventional cruises. A friend of mine who smokes went on a round the world cruise on a Russian cargo ship. No problems with smoking since the crew smoked too. Just don't use a LPG or oil tanker!

Dr Evil said...

What's the policy on e-cig vaping?

Michael J. McFadden said...

The cruise bans are puzzling. It was just ten years or so ago that one or two cruise ships/lines tried to launch "smoke-free cruises" and quickly sank. How did it switch so violently from one side to the other? They're usually outside national jurisdictions, true? So workplace bans wouldn't apply.

Anyone know any of the background/info on this?



P.S. Dr. Evil: they'll come after the vapers soon enough if they haven't already. Children might see you vaping after all. However, be heartened! Heroin smoking will soon be fine on Norwegian Cruise Lines evidently:

P.P.S. And no, I already checked. It really *IS* March 1st and not April 1st.

Michael J. McFadden said...

"Cruise ships are notorious for norovirus which can incapacitate large numbers of guests/workers for considerable lengths of time."

Is norovirus airborne? If so, then you'd expect a strong increase in incidence after the ships banned smoking and reduced interior ventilation/filtration. Without the smoke present as a warning that the air wasn't being kept "clean" no one knows when the systems are substandard or turned off to save money. It's probably better for your health to simply make sure you always seek holiday accommodations that allow smoking.


Bear Tripper said...

The line was called Renaissance cruises. It appears that a lot of the ships cite 'passenger preference' in their non smoking approach. I do get a little prickly on hearing the line 'for the comfort of all passengers....' I am a passenger too and their draconian rules do not make me comfortable.

I don't think that any jurisdiction comes into play - possibly they cite the 'ban' from the home of the ship. Makes it easier for them to make the rules and keep the whiners happy.

There is also a certain amount down to the alleged cleaning bills. I think I have said this before that (according to a friend of mine in the hotel industry in the US) the cost of cleaning a smoking room is around $10 when some hotels in the US put a $200 charge if you smoke in the room.

The cruise market is swamped just now. There are far too many cruises and not enough people with the money to go on them. This can be seen by the amount of price slashes. I wonder if they may get wise to the fact that there are some people with the money to do these trips but refuse to stand outside in the elements onboard a ship when they have paid so much for the 'pleasure'. If a ship has x amount of bars, surely one could be designated as smoking (with appropriate air conditioning). I don't think that any smoker would demand to be able to smoke anywhere on a ship but at least one bar would be viewed as almost acceptable....although the anti-smokers would probably go in there on purpose just to whine.

I would also be interested on any other viewpoints on the smoking/non smoking decisions in answer to your question. Apart from what I have said above, I can't see any other real reason.

Bear Tripper said...

have a look at this

I have to say that my gast is flabbered!!! It appears on that line that your vamping enjoyment is dependent on other passengers. O dear :(

Lyn said...

Sadly I cannot get my husband to visit Greece - he has this thing that nowhere in Greece can you put the loo paper down the loo! I have assured by others that this is not the case, certainly in the better hotels, but hubby lives a bit in the past and won't believe it!

As a consequence we go the Majorca twice a year (he has been going there for over 30 years and much as I love the Island, a change would be nice.

For the past 10 years we have gone to the same hotel because we love the hotel, the location and the staff are wonderful and it does have a feeling of 'going home' when we arrive. However, a couple of years ago, when Spain reintroduced stricter smoking rules, it was a shock to find that there was nowhere under cover we could smoke. We tend to travel early and late season when it is quite possible to have a day or so when the weather is not so clement. We had this one March and ended up spending most of our holiday in our room, solely so that we could relax and enjoy a smoke!

I am just wondering how long it will take the hotel and the country to realise that even those of us who still visit are now spending far less in the hotel and local bars! Some of the Germans who regularly used the hotel and visited Majorca often (we all know their love of the Island), have refused to return while these rules are still in force. One, in particularly, we met outside the entrance, was stomping around, puffing on his cig and was very vociferous (in good English) about how unhappy he was as when they booked there was no mention of this and he was bemoaning the waste of money when he could have gone elsewhere or stayed at home and enjoyed his smoke in comfort, with a good drink.

We have noticed, too, that many of the Germans we regularly met at the hotel are not there; maybe they go later in the season when the weather is likely to be good for their whole stay and they can sit outside with no problem. Who knows, but I am sure it must be affecting the economy and they already have enough problems in that area.

nisakiman said...

...he has this thing that nowhere in Greece can you put the loo paper down the loo!

Ha! The reason for that is twofold and based in the past. Firstly, for some reason known only to the Greeks of old, they used to use quite narrow gauge waste pipes, so there was a real possibility of blockage, and secondly, even today many places are not on mains sewerage, and have a 'vothros', which is essentially a septic tank, and the old style paper interfered with the microbial workings of the tank in that it didn't break down very easily. However, the reality today is that for at least the last thirty years they have used standard size soil pipes, so blockages are no longer an issue, and in terms of the vothros, the toilet paper these days is biodegradable (and has been for many years), so has no adverse effect on the workings of the vothros.

So in fact, if you aren't staying in a very old (and I mean very old) building, you won't cause any problems with the plumbing if you put loo paper down the loo. The reason you see the signs on all the loos with "Please do not put paper down the toilet" is simply that old habits die hard, and the Greeks can't seem to tear themselves away from the bogside bin. As an illustration of that mindset, I was on a ferry from Piraeus to a Greek island years ago, and all the loos had the mandatory signs and bins. The ferry, however, had originally been a British flagged cross-channel ferry, and the toilets were designed to have paper flushed down them. But the new Greek owners just couldn't get their heads round that one; hence the signs and bins.

DP said...

Dear Bear Tripper

Sounds like there's a market for smoker-only (and their non-whiny non-smoker friends) cruises. Any non-smokers who whine can be invited to walk the plank.

It may be that smoker cruises need not leave port - I believe it used to be the case that ships riding on one anchor were deemed 'under way' for alcohol licensing purposes. The same may apply for smoking regulations.

Any enterprising entrepreneurs out there?

I note 13 March is 'No Smoking Day'. Time to light up one of my three a year.


1 July is National Smoking Day - feel free to light up

Bear Tripper said...

Hi DP, given that smoking was allowed in the disco area of the QM2 quite a few years after the smoking ban, I would say that you were right that the regulations do not apply on ships - so why do they do it? Yes, to appease the whiny few.

I think there is a market for smokers and non-whiny friends....and there are a lot of them out there. Loads of people I speak to couldn't care less whether you smoke around them or not, even if they don't smoke themselves (as I think we have all found) and even hate the idea that their smoker friends have to leave them for a while due to the ban.

I wish I had the money for a venture like that - I suspect it would be very profitable.

I will ensure that I smoke as much as possible on 13th March. I don't think anyone is brave enough to say anything about that to me these days :-)