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"The Lap of Luxury" Column by Susan Young

2/3/2008
Lap of Luxury (07/07): Regent's Winds of Change

The Lap of Luxury:  

Winds of Change with Regent's

New Onboard Smoking Policy

Photo of suite on Regent Seven Seas goes here.

Starting at year's end, guests on Regent Seven Seas will no longer be permitted to smoke in any suites onboard the line's ships. Smoking is permitted in several designated areas of each ship.*

By Susan J. Young

The winds of change are not blowing smoke -- at least on Regent Seven Seas Cruises. This week Regent Seven Seas said that by year's end its customers will not be able to smoke in suites or on private balconies.

Regent Seven Seas’ President and CEO Mark Conroy told SouthernCruising.com™ that the new smoking policy was one of the toughest decisions he’s ever made, acknowledging that he would have preferred to keep everyone happy.

But in the end, he says that while Regent will always give smokers a warm welcome on its ships, “we also recognize the need to restrict where smoking is permitted so as not to cause discomfort to, or provide a health or safety hazard for, the majority of our guests who do not smoke.”

Today, an estimated 20 percent of the adult U.S. population smokes, a far cry from the nearly half who did so just a few decades ago. Many government jurisdictions have prohibited smoking in public places in North America. And even smoking prohibition regulations are now going into effect in such far-flung spots as London, U.K., and Venice, Italy, to name a few. 

What are other luxury lines doing? Seabourn Cruise Line recently adjusted its smoking policy, but it still permits cigarette smoking in accommodations and in many areas of its ships. 

No major changes in smoking policies have occurred recently with Crystal Cruises or Silversea Cruises; they still allow cigarette smoking in accommodations, they do restrict smoking elsewhere onboard. 

The issue is a difficult one for the lines. Guest opinions vary sharply. Smokers passionately defend their right to smoke and many say they’re courteous while around non-smokers. But increasingly, non-smokers are adamant about the health issues of second hand smoke and have begun exerting pressure on companies to get rid of the smoke everywhere. So it's not surprising, that tug-of-war has taken to the high seas.

Regent Seven Seas Takes Action

Photo of Connoisseurs Club goes here.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises, says it continues to offer at least three areas on every ship where smokers may still light up.

That said, failure to comply with its new regulations, will result in guests being asked to leave the ship at their expense.

Violators will not receive a refund or credit for the unused portion of their cruise.

Shown above, the Connoisseur's Club on Seven Seas Navigator remains a comfortable haven for smokers who wish to light up at sea.*

Here's the complete new policy for Regent Seven Seas Cruises:

Cigarette smoking is not permitted in any stateroom, suite or personal balcony. Nor is smoking allowed in enclosed dining areas, whether it be the ships' main dining rooms or the alternate dining venues.

Cigarette smoking is only permitted in designated areas of the outdoor Pool Grills.

Other than open deck (non-balcony) areas, the following are the only public rooms or areas on Regent Seven Seas where cigarette smoking is permitted, after the policy goes into effect in late December.

Seven Seas Voyager: Connoisseur Club, Casino, Voyager Lounge (designated area), Horizon Lounge (outside area only) and Pool Bar

Seven Seas Mariner: Connoisseur Club, Casino, Horizon Lounge (outside area only), Stars Nightclub (designated area), Pool Bar Seven Seas Navigator: Connoisseur Club, Casino, Stars Lounge (designated area), Galileo’s (outside area only), Pool Bar Paul Gauguin: La Palette (outside area only), Le Grill (designated area) and Pool Bar

Pipe smoking is only permitted in the Connoisseur Club aboard Seven Seas Voyager, Seven Seas Mariner and Seven Seas Navigator. Pipe smoking in open deck areas is considered an extreme fire hazard and is not permitted.

Cigar smoking is only permitted in the Connoisseur Club aboard Seven Seas Voyager, Seven Seas Mariner and Seven Seas Navigator, and in the designated area of the Pool Bar area aboard all four vesselsThis change in smoking policy will be effective with the Dec. 21 voyages of Seven Seas Voyager and Seven Seas Mariner; the Dec. 27 sailing of Seven Seas Navigator; and the Dec. 19 sailing of Paul Gauguin.

Weighing the Factors 

Conroy says the smoking policy changes resulted from a combination of factors. Earlier this year for the second consecutive year, Conroy and other Regent officials were given an “earful” from loyal Seven Seas Society guests who were tired of the second-hand smoke wafting onto their balconies, into hallways and even into air filtration systems (in the case of those in staterooms adjacent to those of heavy smokers).

Smokers are definitely in the minority on Regent Seven Seas' voyages. Conroy estimates that on any cruise smokers might constitute a high of 15 percent and a low of 3 percent of all guests onboard. 

“They’re [his smoking guests upset by the ban] lovely people and I know they’re personally disappointed,” says Conroy, as some have been sailing the line for years. “Yet, I just don’t know what else [we could have done – given the criticism from the vast majority of our guests.].

“It was a growing problem,” Conroy said. He also cited the changing threads of consumer opinion worldwide and legislative initiatives to curtail smoking. Health issues too were a concern, with non-smokers fearful of the effects of second-hand smoke.

Another prime consideration was safety at sea. Fire is universally considered by maritime experts as the most dangerous safety situation at sea – not a ship’s potential for sinking, as most consumers perceive. A guest’s cigarette ignited a fire on a Star Princess balcony a year ago, causing a major fire that destroyed hundreds of cabins, killed one person and injured several others.

While lines have made major improvements by installing more fire-retardant balcony materials, it's not a fail-safe process. Conroy also says two incidents of unattended lighted cigarettes (in one case started a small wastecan fire) in Regent Seven Seas’ suites also helped tip the scale on the policy change. Fortunately, Conroy says “attentive cabin stewardesses” averted major problems after discovering the incidents. 

Seabourn Adjusts Policy 

What's the policy on other lines? Bruce Good, director of public relations, Seabourn Cruise Line, tells SouthernCruising.com™ that the line’s smoking restrictions were just revised as follows.

Photo of Seabourn ship goes here.Seabourn asks guests to now refrain from smoking in these areas:

  • In the Restaurant, Veranda Café and Restaurant "2" (inside and outside);
  • In the main show lounge.
  • On the starboard side (right side facing forward) in the Observation Lounge and The Club, including the Casino.
  • In the ship's elevators, the forward stairway and outside the Medical Facility.

These policies are in effect for all three Seabourn ships including Seabourn Pride, shown above right.*

Cigarette smoking is permitted in suites.

But the line asks guests to refrain from smoking pipes and cigars anywhere inside the ship, including in guest suites. After dinner, an area of the Sky Bar is set aside for the smoking of pipes and cigars.

“We also restrict pipe and cigar smoking on the open deck during meal service there, but we do allow cigarette smoking on deck during sky grill service,” says Good.

Crystal Opts for Diversity

Crystal Cruises responds that the environment on its ships is designed to satisfy everyone, noting that most areas of its ships are non-smoking. That said, guests are permitted to smoke cigarettes in staterooms and suites.

Photo of one of the bars on Crystal cruises goes here.Bars and lounges (such as the one shown at left*) feature designated smoking and non-smoking tables.

For areas of Crystal ships designated as smoking areas, ashtrays are available in all smoking permitted areas at all times the area is open to the public.

For instance, the pool deck area is open to the public 24 hours a day. In this instance, the smoking section of the pool deck area will have ashtrays available 24 hours.

Non-smoking areas of the ships include the Crystal Dining Room, specialty restaurants, the Galaxy Lounge, the Lido Restaurant, Bistro and public restrooms.

Pipes and cigars are permitted only in Crystal’s Connoisseur Club and on "open
decks." Exceptions where smoking is not permitted on open decks are on the Lido Deck, which is Deck 11 on Crystal Symphony and Deck 12 on Crystal Serenity.

Pipes and/or cigars may not be smoked in guest penthouses, staterooms, on verandahs or in corridors. Crystal’s smoking policy is outlined in the Shipboard Life section of the Cruise Atlas.

Silversea's Policy for Smoking

Photo of Silver Whisper goes here.At Silversea Cruises, smoking is allowed in suites, but not in the restaurants. Cigarette smoking is permitted at designated smoking tables in most bars and lounges and in certain areas on open decks. 

Cigar and pipe smoking is only permitted in The Humidor and in certain areas on open Decks 9 and 10 aboard Silver Shadow and Silver Whisper, and open Deck 9 aboard Silver Cloud and Silver Wind.

Most lines above - with the exception of Regent Seven Seas -- say they handle violators of the smoking policy on a case-by-case basis.

Because policies on all lines vary and also change rapidly, always check with your prospective line to assure you can fit within the policy and do so PRIOR to booking. Increasingly, the winds of change may restrict smoking in more areas onboard ships.

What's Your Opinion?

What do you think about smoking onboard cruise ships? Is it a problem? Do you agree with Regent's changes? Or, do you feel that smoking is your right in your own accommodations? How should the lines ride the middle ground, or should they? 

Let us know your thoughts and we’ll print a sampling of comments. Per our editorial policy, we will not use your personal email address (except for verification purposes). So within your comments provide us with either a “handle name” and home town (no street address) i.e. cruisingladybug from Daytona Beach, FL or, in lieu of that, your initials and home town -- i.e. D.J. from Omaha, NB.  Click here for the Feedback Form!

Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

Susan J. Young is the editor of SouthernCruising.com™ and SouthernTravelNews.com™.

*Photos are owned, copyrighted and used with permission of the various cruise lines listed above or Susan J. Young. All rights reserved. Please do not link to nor copy these photos.


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