Cruising With Cigars Nearing an End
By: Gary Manelski
While relaxing with a cigar during a November 2014 cruise on the Carnival Freedom, it became painfully obvious that the days of being able to enjoy a good smoke on a cruise ship vacation are becoming a thing of the past. Although cigar smoking is still allowed in a couple of designated areas on most Carnival ships, other cruise lines have become even more restrictive than Carnival. The cigar bar on the Freedom and other Carnival ships are still there, but cigar smoking has not been permitted in those bars for several years. The only area inside the Carnival Freedom that permits cigar smoking is the Swingtime Bar, which is a small lounge near the back of Deck 5 which was formerly a nightclub. The bar does have a small humidor and also serves drinks during the evening, but there is no more live music and no dancing. There is seldom anyone inside of the lounge, but cigarette smokers seem to use it more than cigar smokers, except on those rare occasions when someone is actually smoking a pipe or cigar.
Smoking is no longer permitted in cabins nor on balconies, but the Freedom has provided an outside smoking area on the starboard side of Deck 10. The only two areas on the ship that permit cigar smoking are the Swingtime Bar (inside), and the smoking area on Deck 10 (outside). However, cigarette smokers can also smoke in designated areas in the Babylon Casino while gambling, and in the 70's Night Club inside the ship. Although I smoked a few cigars in both of the designated areas for cigar smokers, I really miss those large cigar bars with cigar décor, live music, and even a few other cigar smokers. I also miss smoking cigars on my own aft balcony while watching the smoke drift over the wake when the ship is moving, or while gazing at some exotic port when the ship is docked. Those days are gone forever!
Besides the ship itself, cigar smoking is also permitted in many ports of call. Make sure to ask before lighting up in a foreign country. On my particular cruise, Dominican cigars, as well as fake Cubans, were available in the Dominican Republic. I was able to enjoy a La Flor Dominicana cigar on an excursion down the Chavon river. During a previous trip to the Dominican Republic, I even took a tour of Tabacalera de Garcia, which is the largest factory in the world for hand-made cigars. Check out my video on youtube.com/aboutcigars.
On this same Carnival Freedom cruise, I also enjoyed my second visit to Aruba. The Palm Beach Aruba area is littered with cigar shops that advertise Cuban cigars to tourists, and numerous cigar smokers were observed all along that magnificent two-mile stretch from the Riu to the Marriott. Enjoy these freedoms while you still can, as smoking in public is becoming even more restrictive, not only in the United States, but in other countries as well. The final days of being able to enjoy cigars while on vacation may be here sooner than you think.