Carnival Cruise Ship Smoking Bans Ignite Fiery Debate

SmokingCarnivalCruiseShipCarnival Cruise Line is drawing both criticism and praise this week as news about its smoking-area-experiment aboard three ships is making headlines. Well, at least cruise travel headlines. The trial-run on the cruise ships is over but the debate between smokers and non-smokers is raging on.

Carnival took three ships – the Destiny, Freedom, and Glory – and imposed stricter smoking regulations by making several lounges smoke-free where previously smoking was allowed. Included among them, the cigar bar, which has been the focus of much of the debate.

On the surface it may seem silly to ban smoking in a placed named for doing just that. Carnival says it’s reviewing the “guest experience” after the change, but how about taking into account employee health as well? After all, most smoking bans in the U.S. are justified under occupational safety and health laws – not customer satisfaction.

Some may say that cruise lines could simply give employees the option of working there – but as we’ve all experienced on board – “no” is hardly a typical response from a crew member, and I’m guessing their allegiance to their boss is even stronger than it is to Mr. Jones from Alabama who he’ll only know for a week.

Another point worth mentioning is that on these three ships (and a few other Carnival vessels in the Conquest class), the only access to the internet café is through the cigar bar. Also, some entertainment options may only be available bars where smoking is allowed.

I’ve been on several cruises where I wanted to catch the jazz combo and have a drink before dinner, but didn’t want to be eating or watching the evening show and smelling like the Marlboro man. I also avoided the piano bars and casinos following dinner for the same reason.

I hope Carnival is taking more than just guest experience and comments into consideration. They should also look at:

1. Employee Health and Safety
2. Revenue from internet café
3. Revenue from the smoke-free bars

Yes, smokers spend a lot of money in bars – but so do the 80% of others that do not smoke.

I don’t care if you smoke, so long as I don’t have to smell it. I’m fine with having a smoking lounge near the back of the ship with private ventilation – but don’t make employees work in there for hours, don’t make it the only gateway to the internet café, and don’t have entertainment that is exclusive for those who smoke or are willing to put up with it.