For nonsmokers, boarding a cruise ship can be like taking a trip back in time: Other people seem to be smoking cigarettes everywhere.
In recent years, some cruise lines have eliminated smoking in dining rooms, main showrooms and/or theaters aboard their ships. Others have smoking and no-smoking sections in dining rooms, showrooms and large lounges.
However, smoking is largely unrestricted in casinos, bars and other indoor public areas -- even corridors -- aboard many ships. It's a shock to people who are seldom or never around cigarette smoke.
Less than 23 percent of the U.S. population smokes cigarettes. Federal officials report that number is decreasing among adults because of growing concerns about health risks.
But on a cruise ship, nonsmokers may feel as if they're in the minority.
No consistent policies regarding smoking exist in the cruise industry. And no U.S. or international maritime laws regulate smoking. "It's up to individual cruise lines to set their own policies," said Tim Gallagher of Carnival Cruise Line.
Cruise lines probably did lag a bit behind on the smoking issue at first, said Rich Steck of Royal Caribbean International, "but now we far surpass most limitations imposed on smoking. We jumped ahead by far."
To prove the point, both Jill Biggins of Princess Cruises and Steck cited the same example: You may dine in a restaurant that allows smoking on land, but you won't have to deal with smoke while dining aboard their ships.
Spokesmen for several of the best-known cruise lines aren't aware of smoke-free bars on any ships, but a few did mention that some ships either have or are introducing bars for cigar smokers.
Some nonsmokers might argue that cruise lines still lag behind American-owned commercial airlines, which don't allow smoking, and even U.S. hotel chains that offer nonsmoking rooms.
Cruise lines primarily carrying North American passengers reflect the desires, norms and mores of those passengers, said Larry Dessler of Holland America Line. If those travelers are accustomed to having nonsmoking areas, he said, that is what they will get.
There is some good news for cruise-ship passengers who don't like tobacco smoke:
All restaurants and dining rooms aboard Norwegian Cruise Line's seven ships are now non-smoking, said spokeswoman Stacy Moyer. Norwegian also offers nonsmoking cabins.
In December, Clipper Cruise Line banned smoking in all interior areas of its two small ships, the 138-passenger Yorktown Clipper and the 102-passenger Nantucket Clipper. "We've gotten only positive responses," said Clipper spokeswoman Liz McQuinn.
Nonsmoking dining rooms probably are the next step for Holland America, Dessler said. Although all showrooms on Holland America's eight ships are nonsmoking, he said dining rooms still have smoking sections. Most Holland America ships have two-level dining rooms, with smoking permitted on the upper level.
Princess Cruises has nonsmoking dining rooms on all nine ships. But its main theaters have smoking and nonsmoking sections, except aboard the Sun Princess, where the entire theater is nonsmoking.
Dining rooms on Celebrity Cruises' five ships have small smoking sections, but all passengers are asked to refrain from smoking in them, Sbarsky said.
Celebrity also has a nonsmoking section in its casino, a place where most cruise lines do not restrict smoking.
Many cruise lines allow pipe and cigar smoking only in cabins or on outside decks.
Pub Date: 2/09/97