Royal Caribbean has just announced new restrictions on smoking aboard its cruise ships, starting in January.
As I noted recently in an entry about the growing restrictions on smokers who travel, cruise lines have been relatively friendly to smokers. I’ve never seen any statistics, but simple observation reveals a higher percentage of smokers among cruise passengers than among the general population.
Royal Caribbean’s policy adds a few no-smoking areas to the public parts of its ships, but continues to allow smoking in most bars and lounges. The biggest change is a ban on smoking inside cabins, where there have been no restrictions at all, and no cabins designated as non-smoking. Smoking will still be permitted on private balconies.
This puts Royal Caribbean about in the middle on smoking aboard cruise ships. A few upscale lines now ban smoking throughout most of their ships, including cabins and balconies, and allow it only in a few designated outdoor locations. But most other mass-market cruise lines continue to allow smoking in most locations outside of dining rooms and the main show lounge.
Early comments on the Cruise Critic message boards, where all matters of import to cruise passengers are vigorously debated, are generally in favor of the new restrictions. But there is some disagreement , especially on the impact this change might have. Among the predictions:
- Smokers will demand cabins with balconies, driving up the prices of those cabins.
- Smokers will ignore the rules and smoke inside their cabins.
- Non-smokers will be driven off their private balconies by smoke wafting over from nearby balconies.
- Royal Caribbean will lose business.
- Royal Caribbean will gain business.
I guess we’ll just have to see what happens.