Few things polarize cruisers as much as smoking policies.
That’s because unlike most cruise-ship rules, decisions about where you’re allowed to smoke can directly affect other people.
The smoking policies of Carnival Cruise Line (CCL) – Get Free Report and Royal Caribbean (RCL) – Get Free Report, at least on their namesake cruise lines, are very similar. They allow it in certain sections of the pool deck and in parts of the casino.
Both cruise lines prohibit you from smoking on your balcony. That’s a no-no on every cruise line because it’s a fire hazard — although it’s a rule people seem to readily ignore.
Most smokers don’t take issue with being able to smoke in limited outdoor areas, and nonsmokers may resent that it’s allowed at all, but it’s easy enough to avoid the smoking areas. Outdoor smoking is better, of course, simply because the ship is moving and the smoke does not linger.
Casino smoking, however, has been much more controversial. Smoking in Royal Caribbean and Carnival casinos works as it did in bars or restaurants in the early 1980s. There’s a smoking section and a nonsmoking section, but the smoke doesn’t know where the one ends and the other begins.
Technically, casino players are supposed to smoke only while actively playing, but that’s rarely enforced. The rules expose nonsmokers to smoke because in a confined space, even top-tier ventilation systems can’t remove it fast enough.
Neither cruise line seems likely to eliminate casino smoking — revenue has dropped whenever either company has tested that idea. But Royal Caribbean has made a change on some ships the Carnival is testing as well.
Cruise ship casinos pack a lot into relatively small spaces.
Image source: Daniel Kline/TheStreet
Royal Caribbean Goes Smoke-Free (Sort of)
Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas, currently the world’s largest cruise ship, has a second casino called the Golden Room. That room was built because Wonder was originally supposed to sail from China, and the cruise line wanted a casino space to cater to high rollers.
Once it was decided that Wonder of the Seas would sail from Florida and not China, Royal Caribbean made the decision to make the secondary casino space smoke-free. That obviously worked because the cruise line has decided to turn Jazz on 4, the space where the Golden Room is on other Oasis-class ships, into a smoke-free casino.
Now, Carnival is copying that move on the latest ship to join its fleet. What had been the Costa Venezia has undergone a dry dock where some classic Carnival features were added. (The ship used to sail under the company’s Costa banner.)
Carnival Brand Ambassador John Heald recently shared some video from Venezia, and he made the following comment about its casino.
“Carnival Venezia casino. Smoking side, non-smoking side, and a completely non-smoking casino annex,” he wrote.
Comments on the move were mixed, but one of the pervasive thoughts was that the smoke-free annex should be the smoking area.
“Sad that the smoking side is so big compared to the non-smoking. This was a good opportunity to put in a separate smoking area, but unfortunately, it was missed. The Annex should be the smoking area and not the other way around. It isn’t 1999 anymore…and the smell will permeate through the entire area since it’s all open,” wrote Fred Lomangino.
Similar comments about the Golden Room have been made, with many suggesting that the smokers should be isolated in the smaller space.
Why Royal Caribbean and Carnival Allow Casino Smoking
Royal Caribbean does not allow smoking in the casino on its more upscale Celebrity cruise line. The company has not made that change on its namesake line for a very clear reason.
“Every, I would say, every couple of years, we do test this, and we take one or two or three ships, and we ban smoking in the casino. And the result is less people go in the casino, and that’s the reality of it,” Royal Caribbean Group President Michael Bayley explained during his annual President’s Cruise.
At that event. before the cruise line had begun creating secondary smoke-free casinos, Bayley suggested that would be the likely solution.
“We’re looking at trying to create more smoke-free spaces in the casino, which I think will be helpful,” he added.
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