Travel Hints


Connecting @ Sea
Along with sunscreen and Hawaiian shirts, an ever-increasing number of cruise passengers are adding laptops and iPhones to their lists of must-pack items. The reason is simple. These days, staying in touch with friends and family stuck on land is easier than ever. Today's cruise ships come fully wired with Internet cafes, Wi-Fi hot spots and crystal clear cell phone transmission. So, whether you use a PDA for business, bring a cell phone to check in on grandma or need to surf the web to feed your news habit, you'll be covered.

But, while many operators have been making technological leaps, not all cruise lines are equally wired. For the most part, cruise ship connections will never offer the same high-speed service you get at home. Beyond that, Internet speeds can vary significantly from line to line, ship to ship, depending on factors like location and available bandwidth (in other words, how much the line has invested in its Web setup).

There's even variation within fleets. For example, only Carnival's newest ships -- Carnival Valor, Freedom, Liberty and Splendor -- offer bow-to-stern Wi-Fi. On the older vessels, you'll have to pay a visit to the Internet cafe.

Need to stay in touch while cruising? Here is some quick advice for staying connected at sea:

It's always cheaper to use on-land cyber centers in ports of call. In many cases, port facilities are adding on-site Internet centers. (Cruise crew love 'em.) And sometimes, as with the port terminal in Dubai, they're free! Otherwise, cyber cafes, which are often priced at less than $5 per hour, are usually close by. (Check out Cruise Critic's port profiles, which list nearby centers.)

Onboard, Internet charges vary by cruise line, ranging from 35 cents to $1.25 per minute. Cruise lines do offer packages for heavy users that discount the per-minute rate, often significantly. River cruise lines that operate boats on Europe's waterways offer different twists. On a recent cruise aboard Uniworld's River Beatrice, we paid a flat 15 euro for a week's worth of unlimited access. AMAWATERWAYS includes the cost of Internet in the price of the cruise.

The speed and availability of a ship's Internet connection varies greatly based on where you are in the world and how many people have logged on onboard. For example, mountains in Alaska and Monaco can often block the satellite signal, interrupting service. In general, if you want the fastest connection, log on early in the morning or late at night when fewer of your fellow passengers may be inclined to check their e-mail or surf the Web.

Some cruise lines offer personal at-sea e-mail addresses. We'll offer a caveat on this practice, however, because it tends to be pricier than using your own e-mail company via the Internet, as cruise lines that feature this option charge per missive sent.

While cellular rates at sea will vary by wireless company, they will generally reflect international roaming rates, which can be breathtakingly pricey. When the ship reaches port, pricing will switch to the country-specific roaming rate. For more information, check with your individual provider.

Be aware of the "quiet zone." Basically, what this means is that ships purposely keep a handful of places free of phone signals. For instance, Crystal Cruises has "quiet zones" in its dining rooms, theater and spas. Oceania Cruises' zone features public rooms and restaurants.

Carnival Cruise Lines

Internet & Wi-Fi: Carnival is one of the most advanced fleets in the industry, with shipwide Wi-Fi on all its vessels. As well, the line is beginning to incorporate a new, custom-designed portal into its cyber cafe computers; this offers a variety of special features and promotes easy access to news and sports sites. Other highlights include PhotoWorks access -- you can build your own scrapbook -- and access to iTunes for music downloads. And this is new: On Carnival Dream, the line's latest new-build which debuted in September 2009, the Internet cafe has been scrapped in lieu of 36 "FunHub" kiosks. The stations are spread out over Decks 3, 4 and 5 -- Carnival Dream's main public areas -- and provide free access to Dream's ship-specific information portal and social network. Read more about the FunHubs here.

Fees & Equipment: Passengers can either bring their own equipment, or rent laptops ($20/day), wireless Internet cards ($10/day) and optional insurance ($10/day). Both the Internet cafe and personal laptop rate is 75 cents per minute. Alternatively, minutes can be bought in blocks: 100 minutes for $55 or 250 minutes for $100. There is also a one-time activation fee of $3.95.

Cell Phones: Carnival passengers with GSM or CDMA wireless phones may now use their phones fleetwide; roaming charges will apply.

Celebrity Cruises

Internet & Wi-Fi: Celebrity offers cyber cafes and in-stateroom connections (folks without wireless capabilities will need to request a Connect@Sea kit). Wi-Fi is available in cruise cabins and certain ships have hot spots in public areas.

Fees & Equipment: Passengers on all Celebrity ships can surf the web in cyber cafes featuring up to 18 stations at a flat rate of 75 cents per minute or package rates of 100 minutes for $70, 200 minutes for $120, and 500 minutes for $250. The same rates apply to wireless hot spots on all ships, and in-stateroom Internet access available on Celebrity's Millennium-class ships -- Celebrity Millennium, Celebrity Infinity, Celebrity Summit and Celebrity Constellation. Guests need to bring their own laptops and request a Connect@Sea kit onboard which costs $10 per day. Penthouse, royal and celebrity suites on Millennium, Infinity, Summit and Constellation also have flat-screen monitors and fax machines.

Cell Phones: Passengers on all Celebrity ships can use their GSM or CDMA mobile phones onboard. Roaming charges will apply.

Costa Cruise Lines

Internet & Wi-Fi: All ships in the Costa fleet feature wired Internet cafes.

Fees & Equipment: Costs range from a flat rate of 25 cents per minute in the U.S. and Caribbean and .50 euros per minute everywhere else. Package plans can be purchased: 15 minutes for $6 and one hour for $20.

Cell Phones: Costa was one of the first (as we mentioned) to invest in cell phone access, and as such GSM roaming is available on all Costa ships. Charges apply. CDMA service is not currently available.

Crystal Cruises

Internet & Wi-Fi: Passengers on Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony can surf the Internet in Computer University @ Sea, equipped with 24 to 38 stations depending on the ship. In-cabin access is available. Laptops can be rented onboard.

Fees & Equipment: Crystal has finally abandoned its incredibly confusing pricing system and now offers a more simplified series of plans. You can pay $50 for two hours or $200 for 10 hours. Stateroom connection requires a special configuration of one's personal laptop for $15. Renting a laptop is $5 per day.

Cell Phone: Access is available for phones and wireless PDA's.

Cunard Line

Internet & Wi-Fi: Queen Mary 2 passengers can choose from eight computer terminals in the Cyber Centre, six in the Library and 30 in the Cunard ConneXions rooms. These passengers can also log onto their own laptops in their cabins and in 13 wireless locations throughout the QM2, including the Golden Lion Pub, Sir Samuels Wine Bar and Sports Deck. Among its many other bells and whistles, QM2's in-cabin interactive television system notifies you when there is a new e-mail. File and picture attachments can be viewed using a Cyber Centre computer. Queen Victoria also offers a computer center and wireless Internet access in cabins and select public areas.

Fees & Equipment: On QM2, basic Internet charges will run you 50 cents per minute; a variety of package rates including $13.50 for half an hour and $167.95 for eight hours. You'll pay $1.50 to send or receive text messages via the interactive television.

Cell Phones: Cell phone service is available on both QM2 and Queen Victoria. Phones must have international roaming capabilities, and the guests' service providers must have a roaming agreement with Maritime Communications Partner AS. Cell phone service will not be available in theaters and restaurants onboard.

Disney Cruise Line

Internet & Wi-Fi: Disney's two ships each feature an eight-station Internet Cafe in the Promenade Lounge where passengers can send e-mail, check stock quotes and get news updates. Four additional terminals are also available in the Cove Cafe. Kids between the ages of 13 and 17 can chat on two stations in their own computer area, called The Stack on Disney Magic and Aloft on Disney Wonder. Wireless high-speed Internet is available, with many hot spots set up in a variety of public areas.

Fees & Equipment: On Disney Magic, the rate is 75 cents per minute, but packages can be purchased in increments of 100, 250 and 500 minutes at $55, $100 and $150 respectively. On Disney Wonder, the rate is also 75 cents per minute. Packages can be purchased in increments of 50 minutes, 100 minutes and 250 minutes at $27.50, $40 and $75 respectively. Prices for Wi-Fi are the same. Printing is 25 cents per page.

Cell Phones: Currently, guests can use their cell phones onboard only on Disney Magic (in port, however, the feature will be disabled so guests may use local cell phone providers). Disney Wonder will feature cell phone service mid-summer. Rates vary according to guests' cell phone carriers.

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

Internet & Wi-Fi: Passengers onboard can access the Internet via the internet cafe's on board all of the fleet. Balmoral and Braemar are equipped with interactive television.

Fees & Equipment: Access on Balmoral, Braemar and Boudicca is charged by the amount of data downloaded (so for example, a page with lots of content will cost more to view than composing a simple email). Black Watch will have this system installed in the near future but at the moment, access is charged by time and cards can be purchased from reception costing £10 for 40 minutes.

Cell Phones: Roaming access is available for passengers with GSM phones aboard all of the fleet via the MCP system. GPRS is also available on selected ships and sailings.

Holland America

Internet & Wi-Fi: Holland America ships have some of the most attractive and useful Internet cafes at sea. Part of their "Explorations" cafe concept, the high-speed terminals are scattered around the library (also one of the best at sea) and handily adjacent to a coffee bar. Wireless access is also available there (and in most public areas, though not in cabins) for folks who bring their own laptops. Rates for Wi-Fi are the same as at the cafes. In-cabin access (56K dial-up speed, using your in-cabin phone line) is limited to the fleet's newer ships -- otherwise known as the Vista-class vessels -- and include Zuiderdam, Oosterdam, Westerdam and Noordam.

Fees & Equipment: After an initial activation fee of $3.95, the charge ranges from a flat rate of 75 cents per minute to package rates of 100 minutes for $55 and 250 minutes for $100. For guests whose laptops are not equipped for Wi-Fi, standard wireless cards are available for a fee of $10 per day (optional insurance at $5 per day). Laptops are also available for rent at $20 a day (insurance at $10 per day). Guests on the Vista-class ships -- Zuiderdam, Oosterdam and Westerdam -- pay a 50 cents per minute flat rate for in-cabin, dial-up access.

Cell Phones: As of March 2007, all ships in the Holland America fleet are cell-phone operational (provided by SeaMobile). Phones and PDA's must be activated for international calling with the passenger's home provider, but otherwise no special codes or software is needed. Roaming fees apply.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Internet & Wi-Fi: NCL offers Internet cafes and wireless Internet access (in certain public areas) on all of its ships. Stateroom connections are offered on Norwegian Gem, Norwegian Dawn, Norwegian Pearl, Norwegian Jade, Norwegian Sun, Norwegian Sky and Pride of America.

Fees & Equipment: Internet cafe and wireless users can buy 250 and 100 minute packages for 40 and 55 cents per minute. Where in-cabin access exists, the rate is 75 cents per minute. Wireless charges include a wireless card ($10 per day), optional card insurance ($3 per day), laptop rental ($20 per day) and laptop insurance ($10 per day).

Cell Phones: GSM and CDMA roaming access is available on all NCL ships except Marco Polo and the NCL America fleet.

Oceania Cruises

Internet & Wi-Fi: Passengers onboard Oceania's triplets -- Regatta, Insignia and Nautica -- can access the Internet via its Oceania@Sea program. Staterooms are equipped with interactive television -- you can also access e-mail and the Internet from there. In-cabin access is also available for folks who lug along laptops.

Fees & Equipment: Access is a flat 95 cents per minute -- pretty pricey. To send or receive e-mail to a specially designated Oceania address costs $2 per message.

Cell Phones: Roaming access is available for passengers with GSM and CDMA phones aboard Regatta. The services will eventually be extended to Oceania's other ships as well. Charges apply.

Princess Cruises

Internet & Wi-Fi: Princess Cruises' pay-as-you-go rate is currently 75 cents per minute. There are also three plans you can choose from: 100 minutes for $55 (55 cents per minute), 150 minutes for $75 (50 cents per minute), and 250 minutes for $100 (40 cents per minute). Wireless hotspots are available in public areas (though not in cabins) on all ships. Sun Princess and Dawn Princess have new Internet cafes; the number of terminals ranges from 8 to 26 depending on the ship.

Fees & Equipment: The aforementioned 75 cents per minute. One perk of its top tier frequent cruiser program is that those folks get credit towards package use (this is a departure from its previous policy of outright free Internet for Platinum and Elite members). Guests with laptops without wireless network cards can purchase a "Windows XP" compatible card onboard.

Cell Phones: Princess, so far, is one of the lone holdouts and offers no cell service.

Regent Seven Seas

Internet & Wi-Fi: Seven Seas Voyager, Mariner and Navigator offer Internet access in the internet cafe and on guests' laptops in public areas or suites. In-cabin access is available on Voyager, Mariner and Navigator. CruiseEmailTM service is available for guests who do not have their own e-mail or cannot access their e-mail provider, which costs an additional charge of $3.95 per outgoing e-mail.

Fees & Equipment: Plan A is a pay-as-you-go at a rate of 35 cents per minute. Plan B you can purchase 100 minutes for $25 and Plan C includes 250 minutes for $50. There is also a one-time activation fee of $3.95.

Cell Phones: GSM and CDMA roaming access is available aboard Seven Seas Voyager, Mariner and Navigator. Charges apply.

Royal Caribbean International

Internet & Wi-Fi: Ships are equipped with Internet Cafes featuring 12 - 24 terminals (more private are the cyber stations at business centers on ships that have them -- Voyager and Radiance class). One of the most interesting touches -- and unique, as far as we can tell, to the industry -- is that Internet-accessible terminals are located in its Adventure Ocean kids' facilities (and the rate's half what parents pay). On the line's more recent ships (Voyager and Radiance class) in-cabin access is available.

Fees & Equipment: CyberCabin service costs $70 for a four- to five-day cruise, $100 for a one-week cruise, and $130 for nine- to 10-day sailings. Rates for the onboard cafe are 50 cents a minute (25 cents per minute for kids' terminals in Adventure Ocean).

Cell Phones: GSM and CDMA roaming access is available on all ships. Charges apply.


Internet & Wi-Fi: This line's five ships -- Seabourn Pride, Seabourn Legend, Seabourn Spirit Seabourn Odyssey and Seabourn Sojourn -- are wired for Wi-Fi access in all suites and most public areas. Computer centers on Pride, Legend and Spirit have six terminals. Odyssey and Sojourn have eight public terminals.

Fees & Equipment: The flat rate for both wireless and computer center access is 50 cents per minute. Passengers can also purchase a package of 30 minutes for 45 cents per minute, one hour for 42 cents per minute, eight hours for 35 cents per minute and 32 hours for 25 cents per minute.

Cell Phones: Cell phone capability has recently been added to Seabourn's ships and passengers can connect while at sea in a few locations, such as on the outer decks; a company spokesman says that it's their hope that folks will chat in their suites rather than in public. Indeed, access is blacked out in most public rooms and dining areas.


Internet & Wi-Fi: The line's four vessels -- Silver Cloud, Silver Shadow, Silver Whisper and Silver Wind -- are 100 percent wired for Wi-Fi from bow to stern. Each of the ships' computer centers have computers with flat-screen monitors.

Fees & Equipment: The rates for both wireless and computer center access is 50 cents per minute. Passengers can also purchase a package of 100 minutes for 45 cents per minute ($45), 250 minutes for 34 cents per minute ($85) and 1,000 minutes for 25 cents per minute ($250).

Cell Phones: In 2006, the line teamed up with SeaMobile, a global wireless voice and data communications provider, to offer at-sea cell capabilities to cruisers with GSM, CDMA and GPRS devices (GPRS is the platform that handheld PDA devices, such as BlackBerrys, work on).


Internet & Wi-Fi: Wireless Internet is now available on all three Windstar ships, and passengers can access computers onboard (and rent laptops). Wind Surf is the first ship to get a new facility; its Internet Center has been incorporated into the ship's new Yacht Club -- a coffee house-cum-game room-cum-library-cum-Internet cafe.

Fees & Equipment: Windstar offers three packages: White 30-Minute Card: $22.50 or $.75 per minute; Silver 100-Minute Card: $55 or $.55 per minute; Gold 250-Minute Card: $100 or $.40 per minute.

Cell Phones: Mobile phone service is available on Wind Surf. Wind Star will get cell service on November 29, 2008, and Wind Spirit on April 18, 2009. The onboard international roaming network supports GSM and CDMA technology, and text messaging, GPRS and EDGE data service is available. Cell phone use is not permitted in public areas.


What To Do If…

Practical tips for a good cruise experience.

Your luggage does not arrive at the ship.

If you are part of the cruise line’s air/sea package, the airline is wholly responsible for locating your luggage and delivering it to the next port.  If you arranged your own air transportation it is wholly your problem.  Always have easy-to-read name and address tags both inside as well as outside your luggage.  Keep track of claim documents and give the airline a detailed itinerary and list of port agents (usually included with your documents). The concierge on board the ship is usually quite helpful in these cases - helping to locate you luggage and also helping set you up with necessary supplies and clothes.

You miss the ship.

If you miss the ship’s departure (due to late or non-performing flight connections, etc.), and you are travelling on an air/sea package, the airline will arrange to get you to the ship.  If you are travelling “cruise only,” however, and have arranged your own air transportation, then you are responsible for onward flights, hotel stays, and transfers.  Many cruise lines now have “deviation” desks, where, for a fee, you can adjust airline flights and dates to suit personal preferences.  If you arrive at the port just as your ship is pulling away, see the ship’s port agent immediately. The ships operate on tight schedules, so if the departure time is 5 pm, you should be on the ship by 4:30 pm or you might be an unhappy camper. And yes, we have had some very close calls!

The cruise line’s air arrangements have you flying from Los Angeles via Timbuktu to get to your cruise ship.

Fine if your cruise ship is in Timbuktu.  Most cruise lines that have low rates also use the cheapest air routing to get you to your ship.  That could mean flights from a central hub.  Be warned; you get what you paid for.  Ask questions before you book. Special requests often come with extra charges.

You fly internationally to take a cruise.

If your cruise is a long distance away from your home, then it usually makes good sense to fly to your cruise embarkation point and stay for at least a day or two before the cruise.  Why?  Because you will be better rested and you will have time to adjust to any time changes.  You will step aboard your ship already relaxed and ready for a real vacation. Also, it would be tragic if you missed the ship due to flight delays caused by bad weather or mechanical issues.

You do not like your dining room seating.

Most standard market ships (particularly the large “resort” ships) operate two seatings for dinner, although most now offer some form of "open seating" as well. When you book your cruise, you are asked to whether you want the first or second seating or the open seating option. The line will make every attempt to please you.  But if you want second seating and are given first seating, the thing to do is seek out the Maitre'd immediately upon boarding to see if anything can be worked out. If all else fails, there's always room service (which is complimentary) or the buffet.

You want a table for two and are put at a table for eight.

Again, see the restaurant manager and explain why you are not satisfied.  A little gratuity can prove helpful. The bottom line is that there are only so many tables for 2 and the cruise lines virtually never promise one prior to embarkation, it's always a "request." They always want to make you happ.  We like the large tables and have met lots of nice folks and made some life-long friends.

You cannot communicate with your dining room waiter.

Dining room waiters are probably of a nationality and tongue completely foreign to yours, but most are very good at communicating in English. If you need something out of the ordinary or have a problem, see the restaurant manager and tell him you want a waiter with whom you can communicate.  If he does not solve the problem, see the hotel manager.

A port of call is deleted form the itinerary.

If you took the cruse because the ship goes to the place you have wanted to go for years, then read the fine print in the brochure before you book.  A cruise line is under no obligation to perform the stated itinerary.  For whatever reason (political unrest, weather, mechanical problems, no berth space, safety, etc.) the ship’s captain has the ultimate say. That being said, deviations are relatively rare and usually not an issue.

You are unwell aboard the ship.

Do not worry.  There will be a qualified doctor (who generally operates a concession, and therefore charges) and medical facilities, including a small pharmacy.  You will be well taken care of.  Although there are charges for medical services rendered, almost all cruise lines offer insurance packages that include medical coverage for most eventualities.  It is wise to take out this insurance when you book.

You leave some personal belongings on a tour bus.

If you find you have left something on a tour bus and you are back on board your ship, the first thing to do is advise the shore excursion manager or the purser’s office.  The shore excursion manager will contact the tour operator ashore to ascertain whether any items have been handed in to their office.

You have extra charges on your bill.

Check your itemized bill carefully.  Then talk to the purser’s office and ask them to show you the charge slips.  Finally, make sure you are given a copy of your bill, after any modifications have been made.

You’re unhappy with your cruise experience.

You (or your travel agent) ultimately choose the ship and cruise.  But if your ship does not need your specific lifestyle and interests, or the ship performs less well than the brochure promises, then let your travel agent and the cruise line know as soon as possible.  If your grievance is valid, many cruise lines will offer a credit, good towards a future cruise.  But do be sure to read the fine print on the ticket.

Excerpted from Berlitz Guide To Cruising


Cruise Line Smoking Policies
To smoke ... or not to smoke. Nothing fires up cruise travelers more than this issue. Indeed, check out the posts on Cruise Critic's message boards -- but we warn you: Put on your oven mitts before you open any thread with "smoking" in the title. It'll be red hot.

This issue is so incendiary (pun intended) that smokers often feel bruised and battered and slink away in shame, and non-smokers are often arrogant and self-righteous and ... well, just plain rude. On the other hand, there are non-smokers whose response is to live and let live and smokers who take the position that "hell, it's still legal, so leave me alone."

In the United States, the number of smokers is dropping -- and young people aren't starting to smoke as much as they used to -- but one in four adults still lights up. (In California, the number is closer to one in seven.) In Europe and Asia, smoking is much more prevalent, although that's changing too. The governments of France, Ireland, Italy and the U.K. have recently banned all indoor smoking countrywide. Still, any ship that sails with a large European or Asian contingent is bound to be smokier than a ship filled with North Americans.

Cruise lines, though, have generally taken a more moderate approach to smoking policies. Renaissance Cruises, an entirely non-smoking line, no longer exists. Carnival's Paradise, which started life as a smoke-free vessel and stayed that way for six years, now allows smoking onboard. But several major cruise lines have recently introduced very limiting policies, as have many small-ship "boutique" lines and river cruise vessels. But for other major companies, the policies are not nearly as restrictive as most non-smokers wish they were.

It's an issue of "spoilage" (the industry's lingo for unsold cabins) that keeps cruise lines from designating some cabins non-smoking, in the fashion of hotel rooms. "It would present an inventory mess," says a spokesperson for CLIA, the cruise industry's official trade association. "The cruise lines' yield management people want the ships to sail full at all times; you can't do that if you set aside non-smoking rooms."

We're presenting the policies for you in one neat, tidy package, but first, here are a couple of pointers:

Most Restrictive: Renaissance Cruises (and its groundbreaking "no smoking anywhere" policies) may now be defunct, but the premise is alive and well, to a point, on Oceania Cruises. That cruise line not only hails Renaissance's former president as its leader but also sails with Renaissance's former ships! And while smoking is permitted in two small areas only, its restrictive policies can strike fear in the heart of even the most obsessive walking chimney. One U.K. line is also taking the country's smoking ban very seriously. In October 2008, P&O Cruises made three ships in its fleet -- Artemis, Oceana and Ventura -- completely smoke-free in inside spaces, with lighting up limited to some outside areas and on cabin balconies. From April 2010, the remainder of the line's ships -- Aurora, Oriana and Arcadia -- and its new build, Azura, will also be smoke-free inside. Fred. Olsen has also followed suit, with all indoor smoking now banned fleetwide.

What happens if you get caught smoking in your cabin or on your balcony? Check out this little ditty in the Oceania Cruises Guest Ticket Contract:

"Guests choosing to disregard the policy may be subject to monetary penalties -- up to the fare paid for passage -- that will be imposed to cover the costs associated with the required cleaning of stateroom furnishings, verandas and surrounding deck and accommodation areas. Guests are also kindly reminded that the Master of the vessel reserves the right to disembark any guests, without prior warning, for violation of this policy and said guest(s) shall be responsible for all fees levied by governmental or quasi-governmental authorities, all costs associated with repatriation and vessel's loss of revenues from said forced disembarkation or costs associated with repairs or replacement of furnishings as a result of combustion of accommodation areas found to be caused by said guest(s)."

Don't say you weren't warned.

Least Restrictive: If you are a smoker and want to light up at any time, anywhere, book yourself a Pullmantur vacation. This Spain-based cruise and tour operation runs several cruises in the Mediterranean. You can smoke during your massage, between courses at meals, in the hot tubs, during bingo ... All in all you can totally revel, in bliss, pretty much anywhere.

Balconies: Considerate smokers who want to least offend their neighbors should look at getting a balconied stateroom as far aft as possible since the smoke tends to drift back while the ship is underway. Conversely, sensitive non-smokers should look at booking their verandahs as far forward as possible, for the same reason. If that isn't possible, non-smokers need to adjust their balcony-use schedule or just tolerate the smoke.

Public Spaces: Most ships have designated smoking areas, usually on one side or another of the ship. If smoking is permitted on deck on the port side, that's where smokers should go to light up and where non-smokers should avoid sitting. You'd think that's pretty basic, but many a fight has started over cigarette smoke because one side or another is in the "wrong" space.

It's important to note that shipboard personnel cannot change policy. For example, they cannot and will not ask someone to stop smoking on that person's balcony (except on cruise lines where it's prohibited), but they can and will ask someone to move to a smoking area if that person is in one that is clearly non-smoking. Avoid confrontation; let the ship's personnel handle the asking.

And now, on to our line-by-line roundup of policies (policies are ambiguous with regard to cigar or pipe smoking except where noted):

Azamara Club Cruises

Where You Can Smoke: Smoking is permitted in the port side aft section of the Looking Glass Lounge and the starboard forward section of the pool deck.

Where You Can't: The rest of the ship is completely non-smoking, including all cabins and balconies.

Carnival Cruise Lines

Where You Can Smoke: Smoking is permitted in casinos, dance clubs, piano bars and other live music venues, as well as designated areas on open decks. Smoking is prohibited in spa cabins on Carnival Splendor and Carnival Dream.

Where You Can't: All dining areas are non-smoking, as are a number of public rooms, including the aft cabaret lounge, main show lounge, library, and along the promenade.

Cigar and Pipe Smoking: Ships in Carnival's Destiny and Conquest classes have cigar bars.

Celebrity Cruises

Where You Can Smoke: Cigarette smoking is only permitted in designated indoor and outdoor areas. Examples include the port side of the pool deck and sundecks on each ship; the port side of the Sunset Bar on Celebrity Century and on Celebrity's Millennium class of ships; and the port side, aft, outside of Winter Garden on Celebrity Galaxy and Celebrity Mercury.

Where You Can't: Smoking is prohibited in cabins and on balconies. Also, smoking is not permitted in any dining venue, casino, theater, hallway, elevator or corridor. On Celebrity's new Solstice, the Lawn Club and the Sunset Bar at the Lawn Club will not allow smoking.

Cigar and Pipe Smoking: Cigar and pipe smoking is allowed only in specially designated sections of the open decks.

Costa Cruises

Where You Can Smoke: Smoking is permitted on the open decks, in cabins, including balconies, and in designated smoking areas in most public rooms.

Where You Can't: All restaurants and show lounges are non-smoking.

Crystal Cruises

Where You Can Smoke: Smoking is permitted in cabins, on open decks, and in designated smoking areas in most bars and lounges.

Where You Can't: Beginning on Crystal Serenity's May 7, 2008 London-to-Rome cruise and Crystal Symphony's May 25, 2008 Athens-to-London voyage, the line will begin prohibiting smoking on verandahs of all staterooms and suites aboard. As well, all dining venues, including the Crystal Dining Room, Bistro, Lido Cafe and alternative restaurants, are non-smoking, as is the Galaxy Lounge (the main show lounge).

Cigar and Pipe Smoking: Cigar and pipe smoking is permitted either in the Connoisseur Club or on the open decks (except for Lido Deck).

Cunard Line

Where You Can Smoke: On Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria, smoking is permitted in cabins, including balconies, and in the designated smoking sections of most bars and lounges. On Queen Victoria there are also limitiations on the open decks. Smoking is only permitted on the starboard side of Deck 3 as well as the forward and aft areas of Deck 10.

Where You Can't: Elevators, theaters, and the library are non-smoking, as are all restaurants on Queen Mary 2.

Cigar and Pipe Smoking: Cigar and pipe smoking is permitted in Churchill's Cigar Lounge aboard Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria.

Disney Cruises

Where You Can Smoke: Smoking is permitted on the starboard side of all open decks (except near Mickey's Pool) and cabin balconies.

Where You Can't: Smoking is prohibited in all indoor areas, including cabins.

Fred. Olsen Cruise Line

Where You Can Smoke: Guests are only be able to smoke on cabin balconies and in specially designated areas on open-air decks.

Where You Can't: Due to a new policy phased in in 2009, smoking is now banned in all indoor areas on all Fred. Olsen ships.

Holland America Line

Where You Can Smoke: Smoking is permitted in cabins, including cabin balconies, on open decks and in designated areas in most public spaces.

Where You Can't: All restaurants are non-smoking, as is the show lounge during performances.

Louis Cruise Lines

Where You Can Smoke: Smoking is permitted on the open decks and in designated smoking areas in most public rooms.

Where You Can't: All cabins are non-smoking, as well as the dining room.

Cigar and Pipe Smoking: Cigar smoking is permitted only on the open decks.

MSC Cruises

Where You Can Smoke: Smoking is only allowed indoors in the cigar rooms, the casinos and one dedicated lounge, and outdoors on one side of the sun deck.

Where You Can't: Each MSC ship is now 90 percent smoke-free. Smoking is prohibited in dining rooms, theaters and cabins (including cabin balconies).

Norwegian Cruise Line

Where You Can Smoke: Smoking is permitted in cabins, on open decks, and in casinos and cigar bars.

Where You Can't: All indoor public areas except casinos and cigar bars are non-smoking.

Ocean Village

Where You Can Smoke: Smoking is permitted in cabins, on open decks and in designated smoking areas of most public rooms.

Where You Can't: Restaurants, staircases, elevators and corridors are all non-smoking.

Oceania Cruises

Where You Can Smoke: Smoking is permitted only in the aft port side of Horizons, and the starboard forward section of the outdoor Pool Deck.

Where You Can't: All other areas are smoke-free. This includes all cabins and balconies, restaurants, public rooms and open decks except for the two designated smoking areas.

Caveat: In April 2006, Oceania tightened its smoking regulations with a new "zero tolerance" policy, which imposes strict penalties upon those who smoke outside designated areas -- up to and including disembarkation from the ship.

P & O Cruises

Where You Can Smoke: Until April 2010, smoking is permitted in one designated internal public space area onboard Arcadia, Aurora and Oriana, on certain areas of the open decks, in all cabins on Arcadia Aurora and Oriana, including balconies. Smoking is allowed on the balconies of Artemis, Oceana and Ventura.

Where You Can't: Smoking is prohibited in all enclosed public areas and in the cabins on Artemis, Oceana and Ventura. From April 2010, smoking will no longer be permitted in any inside areas, including staterooms, onboard Aurora, Azura and Oriana. Arcadia will implement the ban in May 2010.

Princess Cruises

Where You Can Smoke: Smoking is permitted in cabins, including balconies, on the open decks and in designated areas in most public rooms.

Where You Can't: Smoking is prohibited in show lounges, elevators, dining rooms and all food service areas.

Cigar and Pipe Smoking: Cigar and pipe smoking is permitted only on the open decks.

Pullmantur Cruises

Where You Can Smoke: Smoking is permitted everywhere except in the non-smoking areas of the main restaurants. The line asks passengers to follow "the norms of good education and civility."

Where You Can't: The only non-smoking areas are in the main restaurants.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Where You Can Smoke: RSSC allows smoking on open decks, in casinos and at all pool bars. Smoking is also permitted in the Connoisseur Club on Seven Seas Mariner, Navigator and Voyager, and in designated smoking areas in lounges on each ship.

Where You Can't: RSSC does not allow smoking in suites, staterooms or on private balconies. Smoking is also not permitted in any enclosed dining areas.

Cigar and Pipe Smoking: Cigar smoking is permitted in the Connoisseur Club on Seven Seas Mariner, Navigator and Voyager, and in the designated area of the pool bar on those three ships. Pipe smoking is permitted only in the Connoisseur Club on Mariner, Navigator and Voyager, and is prohibited in open deck areas and on all other ships.

Royal Caribbean

Where You Can Smoke: Beginning January 2008, smoking is permitted only on cabin balconies, on the starboard side of open decks and in the designated smoking areas of public rooms.

Where You Can't: With the adoption of the new smoking policy, smoking will be prohibited in all cabins (except on balconies) and in one public room on each ship. In addition, as always, dining areas and show lounges will be non-smoking, along with the port side of open decks.

Any passenger caught smoking in a cabin will be charged a $250 penalty. The new smoking policy will not be enacted until the summer 2008 season on Legend of the Seas, Rhapsody of the Seas and Splendour of the Seas.

Saga Cruises

Where You Can Smoke: Smoking is permitted in cabins, including balconies, in the designated smoking areas in many lounges, and on open decks.

Where You Can't: Smoking is prohibited in the dining room, cinema, theater, card room and library, as well as in the lounge during entertainment and lectures.

Cigar and Pipe Smoking: Cigar and pipe smoking is permitted on open decks, in the upper level of Club Polaris on Saga Rose and the View restaurant on Saga Ruby.

Seabourn Cruise Line

Where You Can Smoke: Smoking is permitted in guest suites, on the starboard side of the observation lounge and on open decks (including the Sky Bar area), with the exception of the outdoor section of Veranda Cafe.

Where You Can't: Effective August 2, 2008, smoking is prohibited in all public rooms except the starboard side of the observation lounge.

Cigar and Pipe Smoking: Cigar and pipe smoking is prohibited anywhere indoors, including in cabins, but is allowed after dinner in an outdoor area near Sky Bar.

SeaDream Yacht Club

Where You Can Smoke: Smoking is permitted outdoors on Decks 3, 4 and 6.

Where You Can't: Smoking is prohibited in all indoor spaces, including cabins, and outdoors on Decks 2 and 5.

Silversea Cruises

Where You Can Smoke: Smoking is permitted in designated areas of The Bar, outside the Terrace Café, in the pool area, at the Panorama Lounge and in the Casino Bar, as well as in cabins, including balconies.

Where You Can't: The Restaurant, indoors at the Terrace Cafe, Saletta, the Show Lounge, Card/Conference Room, Library, Spa/Fitness Centre, Internet Point and Gift Shops/Boutiques are smoke-free.

Cigar and Pipe Smoking: Cigar and pipe smoking is permitted in designated areas outside at the Terrace Cafe and The Champagne Room.

Thomson Cruises

Where You Can Smoke: Smoking is only permitted in strictly designated areas of the open deck.

Where You Can't: Smoking is not permitted anywhere inside the ship.

Windstar Cruises

Where You Can Smoke: Smoking is allowed on the open decks, in cabins and on the port side of the lounge on all ships. It is also permitted in the casino and on the port side of the Compass Rose on Wind Surf only.

Where You Can't: Smoking is prohibited in the restaurants on all Windstar ships.

Cigar and Pipe Smoking: Cigar and pipe smoking is permitted on the open decks only.


Cruise Line Alcohol Policies
There are few issues of substance that get cruisers buzzing quite like onboard alcohol policies. The daily number of Cruise Critic message board questions on drinking ages and other booze-related regulations is nothing short of mind boggling. My 18-year-old son is served in London, so can he have a beer on a U.S. cruise ship? Can I bring a cooler filled with cold ones or my beer helmet? How about bringing our own bottles of wine to dinner? If bringing booze onboard is against the rules, what's the most creative way to sneak it onboard, and what possible humiliation will I face if caught?

Drinking rules certainly vary across lines -- European companies like Costa Cruises may lower the drinking age to 18 when sailing from non-U.S. ports; luxury outfits often include open bars, and allow for "bring your own booze" as well; and some lines have even outlawed bringing wine onboard, something that's almost always acceptable (there is, however, usually a corkage fee assessed for consuming your wine in the dining room). But we can typically break the rules down into three main categories: drinking age, rules for bringing booze onboard and all-things wine.

So that you might know the rules before you're seeing double, take a look at our comprehensive list of alcohol policies for the most popular lines. Cheers!

Editor's Note: We're only dealing with the official rules here, and not considerations of fairness or how crafty folks circumvent alcohol policies. To see how cruisers really feel about onboard policies, check out our Members Speak Out: The Great Liquor Debate.

Carnival Cruise Line Alcohol Policy
Celebrity Cruises Alcohol Policy
Costa Cruises Alcohol Policy
Crystal Cruises Alcohol Policy
Cunard Alcohol Policy
Disney Cruise Line Alcohol Policy
Fred Olsen Cruise Lines Alcohol Policy
Holland America Alcohol Policy
MSC Cruises Alcohol Policy
Norwegian Cruise Line Alcohol Policy
Oceania Cruises Alcohol Policy
P&O Cruises Alcohol Policy
Princess Cruises Alcohol Policy
Regent Seven Seas Cruises Alcohol Policy
Royal Caribbean Alcohol Policy
Seabourn Cruise Line Alcohol Policy
Silversea Cruises Alcohol Policy
Windstar Cruises Alcohol Policy



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