A number of major cruise lines have made their onboard smoking policies more restrictive.
Cunard Line, Disney Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, P&O Cruises, Royal Caribbean International and Seabourn all announced changes recently. Depending on the line and the ship, the new policies will affect guest balconies, staterooms and public spaces.
Douglas Ward, author of the guidebook Berlitz Cruising and Cruise Ships 2014, said the changes are "simply evolutionary — more no-smoking passengers are asking the cruise lines to reduce the smoking areas."
Traditionally, most ships had smoking and smoke-free areas, he said. "Ocean liners of yesteryear were famous for their large smoking rooms."
Many of the new policies prohibit smoking on balconies.
"Smoking on balconies causes a lot of upsets," Ward said. "I receive numerous letters from passengers who do not want to smell the smoke of their balcony neighbors."
Colleen McDaniel, managing editor of the website Cruise Critic, said the topic of smoking on balconies always results in heated discussions among cruisers. "So we're not too surprised to see lines re-evaluating their policies," she said. Disney announced its fleetwide balcony smoking ban last month; it will take effect Nov. 15.
Smoking has never been allowed in guest staterooms, a Disney spokeswoman said, but "portions of open-air decks on each ship are designated as smoking areas in an effort to provide a cruise experience that satisfies both our nonsmoking and smoking guests."
New York Times
There are many cruises themed around music, and now food- and TV-related cruises are becoming more popular. Here are some to consider:
Dancing with the Stars: At Sea
Holland America, toll-free 1-877-932-4259; hollandamerica.com
On the MS Nieuw Amsterdam, dance lessons, performances, photo ops with pros Kym Johnson and Tristan MacManus and star contestant Sabrina Bryan from the hit ABC show.
Jan. 5, seven-day Eastern Caribbean trip: Rates start at $999 per person for ocean-view double-occupancy cabins (interior cabins sold out).
Jan. 12, seven-day Western Caribbean: Rates start at $799 per person double for interior cabins, $869 for ocean view.
Paula Deen Cruise
Toll-free 1-888-816-0169; pauladeencruise.com
Theme cruise operator Alice Travel has added a second cruise for 2014 featuring the otherwise-disgraced celebrity because of demand from Deen's cruising fans. Cooking demonstrations, Q&A, special autograph sessions, games and more with embattled star Paula and members of her family.
Jan. 18, seven-day Eastern Caribbean, round trip from Miami to St. Maarten on Celebrity's Reflection: Rates start at $1,748 per person double for inside cabin.
July 19, seven-day Western Caribbean on Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas: Rates start at $2,214 per person double.
Silversea Culinary Arts Voyages
Toll-free 1-877-276-6816; silversea.com
A raft of (pricey) options that include guest chefs, special menus, cooking demonstrations and classes, grand dinners and, in some cases, escorted provisioning excursions to international markets. Upcoming possibilities:
Oct. 24: Silver Spirit, nine days, Venice to Rome, starting at $4,050 per person double.
Nov. 8: Silver Whisper, seven days, Barbados, starting at $3,450 per person double.
Nov. 25: Silver Shadow, seven days, Hong Kong to Singapore, starting at $3,950 per person double.