Review: Carnival Smoking Policy Changes

SmokingCarnivalCruiseShipWhen we got the email from Carnival back in June about the revised smoking policy – we were relieved – and just last week we got to experience some of the new changes first-hand. Pardon the pun.

Starting June 15th, smoking was restricted to staterooms, balconies, dance clubs, jazz clubs, open decks on the starboard side, and certain areas of the casino and casino bar. Starting December 1st, 2011, smokers will not be allowed to light up in their staterooms (or risk a fine), but the balcony will still be fair game as with the above-mentioned areas.

For those of us that really dislike the smell of cigarette smoke – the new rules made it much easier to avoid the fumes and have minimal impact on our cruise. When walking across the open deck on the way to breakfast or lunch on the Lido, we would always steer ourselves to the port-side (smoke-free side) to avoid the smoking area on the Starboard side. Sometimes we found ourselves on the wrong side – which is immediately apparent since all the smokers have been condensed into a smaller area – but we’ll take the blame for that.

The Casino, though there were ‘non-smoking’ areas, still had an overpowering smoke smell coming from it – especially in the evening hours. The design of the ‘smoking sections’ was a little troubling, though. The table games were setup in a “U” shape – and the smoking tables were intermixed with non-smoking tables. This design doesn’t seem to make sense, since you could have a non-smoking table and still be surrounded by smokers on all sides. I’m not sure if it was just the right time of day or coincidence – but the designated smoking tables were typically less full or even empty when it was hard to find a seat at a non-smoking table. Surely Carnival will be tracking gaming behavior more closely than our casual observation, though.

We were lucky that we only had light smokers as neighbors on our balcony – and only once or twice did we notice the smell of smoke when using our balcony – and we used it a lot. We were on the port side, though – and it may be possible that cruisers are choosing to be closer to the starboard-side smoking areas. Prediction: The next smoking policy changes will limit smoking to starboard balconies only, and following that will be all balconies. That is probably a few years away, though, so don’t hold your breath (Sorry…I’ll stop with the puns).

The only time we encountered the smell of smoke in interior areas of the ship was in the hallway to our stateroom. There were some folks who seemed to be trying to smoke everything they could in their stateroom before the rule changes in December. Luckily it seems like Carnival has really figured out how to de-smoke a room for the next guest, at least in most cases.

Overall we’re happy with the changes – and fully expect that over the next few years smoking will eventually be phased out completely. It will only take one of the major lines to make the first move, but the rest will follow. Until then, we applaud the efforts of Carnival and others who have made the smoking policy less restrictive – as were able to more easily avoid the smoking areas and enjoy elements of the ship (like the piano bar) that were previously too smoky to enjoy.

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