Smoking is a hot topic (pardon the pun), one that has been on the cards for some time now, and, with further restrictions being placed on travellers, it does not look likely to disappear any time soon.
Within the debate, there are two main camps; not surprisingly, smokers and non-smokers. Smokers are feeling victimised by society, they feel as though they are being punished for a lifestyle choice - that it is effectively their right, and they should be able do as they please without fear of persecution. Secondly, there is the other camp; the non-smokers. Non-smokers feel as though they have a right to exist without the pollution of the carcinogenic tobacco smoke filling their lungs from inconsiderate smokers. Smokers are becoming more and more of a minority, with less and less individuals taking up the habit each year. Largely, this good work can be attributed to the efforts of governments and anti-smoking campaigners such as the UK charity "Ash". Europe and Asia are still observing a dramatically slower decline in smokers in comparison to the USA, however, a decline is a decline.
With the above in mind, the cruise industry finds itself in a bit of a predicament when it comes to the issue. Carnival's Paradise had originally started life out as a smoke free ship, but altered its policies due to extraneous factors that we shall not cover in this article. Interestingly, ships are again moving toward a more prohibitive viewpoint and, more recently, some of the major cruise lines have introduced new rules, such as forbidding smoking on balconies. The switch has been largely attributed to the effort of cruise lines to change with the times to accommodate the demands of the ever-changing consumer. Indeed, a recent study carried out by Cruise Critic highlighted that over half of cruise passengers would prefer to see smokers restricted to dedicated smoking zones - not stateroom balconies.
The most restrictive of smoking policies are brought to you by Oceania Cruises where smoking is almost exclusively banned, except from in specifically designated smoking areas. The Italian owned MSC Cruises has, probably, the most restrictive smoking policy of all of the cruise lines - on one of their impressive ships, Davina, smoking is only permitted in the cigar lounge.
If you are looking for a cruise holiday where you are able to light up, then Carnival and NCL are your best bet. These are the two cruise lines who (currently) still allow individuals to smoke on balconies. This, of course, may change in the future.
Naturally, most ships will have designated smoking areas for anyone who wishes to sneak off for a cheeky ciggie, or some casual smirting (smoking whilst flirting!). These areas are usually well signposted and reside on one side of the ship. Often smokers will be allowed to smoke on deck but, of course, this will depend upon the policies of the individual cruise line.
If you are a non-smoker and you notice someone lighting up illegally it's best to avoid the confrontation and choose to notify a member of personnel instead. Remember, however, that personnel cannot change the rules, so there is no point in moaning at them about the presence of the designated areas!
This 'burning' issue is certainly one that splits opinion and, regardless of viewpoint, is one that cruise passengers must be willing to compromise on - for the time being at least!