SMOKE NOT ON THE WATER

June 15, 2011 -

John Heald

I love cigars. I don’t drink any alcohol, I work hard and I am faithful to my wife. But I love cigars, they relax me and I enjoy being around the people who smoke cigars with me. My true life hero smoked cigars and they were the mark of Winston Churchill. He was rarely seen in without one. And let’s face it, the cigar smoking fraternity (think Sylvester Stallone, Jack Nicholson, Groucho Marx, Mark Twain, Michael Jordan ) is pretty cool.

Yet I know many others do not think that it’s cool and I have received bollockings in person on the various ships, been told I am a bastard for smoking here on the blog. But if there was one incident that I will always remember then it is this one, as written by me on a blog back in 2008.

So there I was sitting in St.Mark’s square in Venice enjoying a fine Monte cristo. The quartet playing Mozart’s Piano Concerto number 21, my beautiful wife at my side all was well…then….a shout from across the other side of the Café..not the person 20 feet away but the furthest table which must have been 40 feet away from us…….”CRUISE

DIRECTOR – CRUISE DIRECTOR”…….I knew the bellow was for me but I ignored it just for a second…..and then looked over…….”CRUISE DIRECTOR”……came the voice which was now louder than a piano, a cello, a violin and a double bass……..”do you mind putting that disgusting thing out”.

I could feel the heat rising from Heidi well and could sense the other people around the Café were now looking at me and at the large fog horn voice that was emanating from such a small lady…….normally, I would have put it out…….I never want to offend people especially from the ship. What were the chances of me offending someone who had to, of course, be on the ship and who recognised me.

Anyway, I took one last big puff of my cigar and blew the smoke which the wind took in the opposite direction of where the lady was sitting and was about to put the cigar out which by the way cost more than I can afford and as my hand moved towards the ash tray the manager came over and told the lady to be quiet and not shout as she was disturbing the music. Now, I think that was what he said because the lady and the two other people got up and started walking away.

As they walked past me the lady came towards me and said these exact words: “Crew members should not be allowed in the same place as passengers and you have ruined my night.” I stood to apologize but, the look on her face changed my mind and I am sorry to say I just said . . .”Am I bothered?” and sat down.

Now, you cannot imagine how difficult it was for me to admit to all of you and all the top people at Carnival that I said that but sometimes you know what .,,, you have to be a human being and this time I am sorry to say I WAS RUDE….I feel bad now, no actually, I feel awful now and I have Heidi and Wendy and Charlie scouring the ship looking for her so I can apologize.

It was not the fact that I had been asked to put my cigar out, or had been shouted at 40 feet from across the most famous square in the world or that she interrupted the music for all of us or that I was trying to be a big man in front of my wife. It was simply that she thought that we as crewmembers on our time off had no right to be in that most special of places and should have been locked in our rooms hanging upside down like a troglodyte.

So that’s how I wrote it back in 2008 and interesting that I referred to the beards as “the top Carnival people”……..I like their new title much better don’t you.

My point is though that the subject of smoking is always going to cause emotion and differences of opinion. It seems bizarre to many of you I know that where hotels and clubs and bars and offices and even golf courses and parks have been blissfully smoke free you can still get smoke in your eyes in a lounge on a ship.

And so it was inevitable that we needed to make changes, especially with figures that show 90% of our guests do not smoke. What are the changes? Well, I will post the official press release again in a moment. Most of you have seen this on my Facebook page and on other news areas so I thought I would try and summarise as best I can what this means to you by going over the major points and then breaking it down ship by ship.

One last thing. Let me say here rather than repeat this time and time again. What we have here is going to make many happy and some not. But I think you will see that we have for the most part tried to continue to help both non smokers and smokers.

So here we go…

1. Piano Bars

These will immediately become 100% smoke free. I know that these entertainment areas remain some of our most popular and that the majority of the piano entertainers will be happy with this news

2. Casinos.

These will immediately adopt the very successful policy we have on Carnival dream and here on your Carnival magic with most of the casino being non smoking and a section of slot machines and a few tables being available for smoking whilst playing. Note: You must be playing to be allowed to smoke and this I have been assured will be monitored accordingly. By the way on the Carnival Magic we have 53 of 185 ( 28% ) slot machines are smoking and 10 of 16 ( 63% ) tables are smoking. I will let you know what each class has in their casino as soon as I can

3. Cigar Bars

Well if you could see me now you would see me in my underpants wearing a black armband because I for one am mourning the loss of these wonderful lounges. I will miss there deep leather chairs and the ambience and conversation that went with them. It would be ridiculously hypocritical of me if I didn’t say that I don’t agree with this change as a cigar smoker and feel so disappointed that these are being turned completely into 100% non smoking lounges.

However, I am a cigar smoker second and a Cruise director and Brand Ambassador first and so from a guest point of you I have to face the obvious that I have known has been coming for many months. The first cigar bar was on the Carnival Destiny, except it was never designed as a cigar bar. It was the lower level of the disco. yes, it was a disco back then and not a nightclub or a dance club or whatever the current and hip word is. Then along came the late 90’s and the cigar boom when the price of Cuban cigars rose 300% and Cigar Aficionado magazine was born. And so we blocked off the lower level of the Dance Club and made it a cigar bar and these followed suit throughout the Destiny, Triumph and Splendor class ships. But now times seem to have changed and we moved away from Cigar bars on the Dream class and placed them out under the stars.

So as of now these lounges will no longer enjoy the aroma of a Monte Cristo, a Cohiba, an Artoro Fuente or a fine White Owl. They are smoke free and while this makes sense for the non smokers and gives a rite of passage to the Internet Cafe some (not many) will lament times gone by sitting on fine leather talking long ashes with a fellow cigar lover.

4. Where Can I Smoke Then?

The easiest way is for me to break this down into class of ship for you, so excluding small sections of the casino and the casino bar on all the ships smoking is only allowed in the following areas.

FANTASY CLASS SHIPS.

Smoking will only be allowed in the Nightclub or as people who don’t like Pee Diddley and Lady Ha Ha call it……..the disco.
Cigar smoking is only permitted on the open deck in the specific area which will be provided for this.

SPIRIT CLASS

Smoking will be permitted in the Nightclub or as people who dance without waving their hands in the air like they just don’t care call it….the disco. Smoking will also be allowed in the mid lounges. These are the ones on Promenade deck forward and will allow both cigarette and cigar smoking there.

Carnival Spirit: Club Cool
Carnival Legend: Satchmo’s
Carnival Pride: Stormy Night
Carnival Miracle: Frankie and Johnny’s

DESTINY, CONQUEST AND SPLENDOR CLASS.

Smoking will be permitted in the Nightclub or as people who don’t wear their pants so low that it reveals the crack of their bottom call it…….the disco. Smoking will also be allowed in the aft lounge on the port side of Promenade deck 5 which we generically call the jazz lounge as many years ago that’s what we had there. We will allow both cigarette and cigar smoking there.

Carnival Destiny – Downbeat
Carnival triumph – Venezia
Carnival Victory – Black and Red Seas
Carnival Conquest – Vincent’s
Carnival Glory – Bar Blue
Carnival Valor – Paris Hot
Carnival Liberty – The Stage
Carnival Freedom – Swingtime
Carnival Splendor – Cool Club

CARNIVAL DREAM

Smoking is allowed in the Nightclub or as people who don’t bump and grind complete strangers call it………the disco. Smoking is also permitted on the entire port side of the Lanai. Cigar smoking is only permitted on the port side of the Lanai.

CARNIVAL MAGIC

Smoking is permitted in the Nightclub or as people who don’t drop it like it is hot call it…..the disco. Smoking is also permitted on the port side of the Lanai including the outside section of the RedFrog Pub. Cigar smoking is only permitted outside on the port side of the Lanai and the outside section of the RedFrog pub.

So there you go, that’s where you can smoke. Now, the entertainment in these lounges will change a bit with the immediate plan to move the Latin trio from what was the cigar bar into the smoking lounges on the Destiny, Conquest and Splendor class ships. The Spirit class will keep their 4 piece or duo playing in the mid lounge and all the ships will move karaoke out of the smoking lounges into other areas. That is at least the plan but I am sure the Cruise Directors will experiment along the way and fine tune what’s best for the guests.

DECEMBER 1ST

This sees a major change when we start our non smoking in any cabin policy. I think this is one rule that the vast majority of us can agree on and we follow on from similar practices already in place on our sister lines Princess and Holland America. The beards felt that it would be best to communicate this rule to you all now and give it time to get to the guests before we bring it into effect so that’s why we are waiting to December 1st. There will be wordage in the tickets from December 1st that says anyone who does smoke in their state room or stateroom bathroom will have to pay a $250 cleaning fine. Remember we have this successfully in place already for the ships with the Cloud Nine Spa cabins.

BALCONIES

You are allowed to smoke both cigarettes and cigars on the balconies giving respect to those either side of you of course.

So one question will be this I am sure. Why didn’t we go 100% smoke free? The answer is simple and that’s if a family or a group book a cruise and just one person smokes, Carnival will not be a vacation choice. They will end up going to places where you can smoke like ummmm…….ummmmmmmm…….Botswana or Kurdistan. What we have here now is a fine line, yes we know that, but keeping everyone happy as best we can under the ever growing pressures from the non smoking world we live in was something we want to do.

So, let’s do this. If you have any questions please post them here or on Facebook and I will be happy to help. If you like or dislike these new rules I urge you to express them here or on Facebook as the beards are listening. So there you have it. Maybe one day smoking will be banned everywhere, at home, everywhere. Apparently, such a move is being considered right now in Norway, Sweden and Finland. Though we shouldn’t pay too much attention to the outcome because when a Scandinavian is forced to give up the cigarettes, he will simply revert to the region’s second favourite pastime………..committing suicide.

One last thing. I mentioned how I will miss the cigar bars and I guess this is the signal that its time to give up. Not just because of this though because there is now a rule in place immediately that says Officers, Staff and Crew are no longer allowed to smoke in any guest area on any ship. We are allowed to smoke in crew areas which I have to say are not exactly areas where you will find me relaxing and smoking a great Cuban cigar.
They are designed for a quick cigarette break before heading back to work. again, as a Cruise Director and Brand Ambassador I understand that guests do not want to see groups of staff smoking.

But as someone who’s only vice was a weekly cigar………well I am beyond disappointed that this can be no more. So I won’t be found outside the RedFrog late at night having a cigar. And if you do see a fat bloke with a bent tooth and grey hair puffing on one………..it wasn’t me…………….right ?

Here are the official press release:

As part of its ongoing commitment to keep pace with changing guest preferences, Carnival Cruise Lines will be modifying its smoking policy across its 23-ship fleet.

The new smoking policy will be rolled out in two stages:

  • Effective June 15, 2011, cigarette smoking in public areas will be permitted only in Carnival’s dance clubs, designated areas within the casino and casino bar, certain sections on the open decks on all vessels and also in the jazz clubs on 13 Carnival ships. The 13 ships include Carnival Destiny, Carnival Triumph, Carnival Victory, Carnival Spirit, Carnival Pride, Carnival Legend, Carnival Miracle, Carnival Conquest, Carnival Glory, Carnival Valor, Carnival Liberty, Carnival Freedom, and Carnival Splendor. Cigar smoking will also be permitted in the jazz clubs. On other vessels in the fleet, cigar (and cigarette) smoking will also be permitted in designated areas on deck.
  • Effective December 1, 2011, smoking will be prohibited in all guest staterooms. Those guests in balcony accommodations will be permitted to smoke cigarettes and cigars outside on the balcony. Spa staterooms, currently featured on Carnival Splendor, Carnival Dream and Carnival Magic, will continue to remain entirely smoke-free, including on the balconies.

The modified smoking policy is the result of recent guest surveys conducted by the company that covered a wide range of topics. The surveys indicated that nearly 90 percent of all Carnival Cruise Lines’ guests are non-smokers with less than five percent of guests opting to smoke in their staterooms.

These changes will be implemented aboard all 23 Carnival Cruise Lines ships, which operate three- to 16-day voyages to the Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, Alaska, Hawaii, Panama Canal, Bermuda, and Europe.

Carnival is updating all of its collateral materials and communicating details of the modified smoking policy to its guests and travel agent partners.

Goodnight.

Your friend,

John

Hi, I’m John, and this is my blog. So please don’t mistake my opinions — or those of my dear friends, fans or commenters — for those of Carnival Cruise Line or Carnival Corporation. My apologies in advance for anything I may say that upsets you, but this disclaimer covers Carnival and puts the blame directly on me………….. bugger.

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