Question: I made the crossing from England to New York aboard the Queen Elizabeth 2. Smoking in public areas was pervasive, and my room smelled of stale smoke. Are there cruise lines with strong restrictions on smoking?
Answer: Asked about your experience on the QE2, Gary M. Gerbino, a spokesman for its owner, the Cunard Line, said: "Out of respect for its nonsmoking guests, Cunard restricts where smoking is permitted on board Queen Elizabeth 2. At the same time, QE2 regularly welcomes an international clientele, many of whom enjoy smoking."
Cheryl Fenske, a spokeswoman for the Cruise Line International Association, an industry group, said such policies are echoed on most cruise ships, often with restaurants designated as nonsmoking areas.
In 1998, Carnival Cruise Lines launched the Paradise, calling it "the world's first and only smoke-free cruise ship."
"The policy is pretty strict," said Jennifer de la Cruz, a spokeswoman for Carnival. Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the Paradise, she said. Additionally, all passengers are asked to sign a document agreeing to observe the policy when they board.
Violators, including those who sneak a smoke or even display unsmoked tobacco, are fined $250 and are required to leave the ship at the next port, de la Cruz said. Those passengers, she added, must arrange their own transportation home and are not offered refunds. At least three people a month have been put off the ship, de la Cruz said.
Paradise, which sails out of Miami, has several seven- to 10-day cruises in the eastern and western Caribbean each month. Prices generally begin at $529 a person, double occupancy.
In 2003 the ship's itinerary will include Isla de Roatan, Honduras; Belize City; Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic; Nassau; St. Thomas; Grand Cayman Island; and Cozumel, Mexico. For information, call (800) 227-6482 or see www.carnival.com.
There are also new Quit Smoking Caribbean Cruises on the Paradise that are organized by the American Lung Association of Connecticut and Manchester Community College in Connecticut. For information, call (877) 447-7433.
An option for cruising in a smoking-restricted (but not completely smoke-free) environment are the river cruises offered by Smithsonian Study Tours. These are organized by the Smithsonian Associates of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. Two luxury ships, both owned by Abercrombie & Kent and chartered for the tours, allow smoking only on decks, said Marni Tamayo, a spokeswoman for the Associates.
The Seine Princess, launched this year in France, will be used for the Smithsonian's Historic Normandy and the Seine River tour, June 7-18. The Explorer, which designates the decks where smoking is allowed, will be used for North of the Arctic Circle, July 15-Aug. 2; the Panama Canal, April 12-23; and the Orinoco River and Southern Caribbean, April 22-May 8. Prices range from $3,995 to $12,995 a person, double occupancy. Prices include meals, lectures by a Smithsonian study leader and airport transfers, but not air fare. An additional $28 is added for membership in the Smithsonian Institution, a requirement for the tours. For information, call (877) 338-8687 or visit www.smithsonianstudytours.org.
A useful Web site for other smoke-free travel options, including cruises, is www.smokefreeworld.com.