Cruising and Smoking Cigars
By: Gary Manelski
Enjoying cigars on cruise ship vacations has become more difficult during the last several years, but all cruise lines are not created equal. I would not book a cruise that did not allow cigar smoking. In May 2014, I took a cruise on the Caribbean Princess that had a cigar bar called the Churchill Lounge, which is the only place on the ship where cigar smoking is permitted. Although cigarette smoking is allowed in the casino and in certain designated areas on open decks, smoking is no longer permitted in cabins nor on balconies.
The Churchill Lounge can be used by cigar, cigarette and pipe smokers throughout the cruise, but bar service in the lounge does not begin until 4:00PM each day. It was a real treat to be able to smoke in a real cigar bar on a cruise ship, for a change. I have cruised on Carnival in the past, which has nice big cigar bars on many of its ships. But guess what, cigar smoking is no longer permitted in Carnival's cigar bars. However, they do allow cigar smoking in one smaller nightclub on most ships, and cigar smoking is still permitted in designated exterior open deck areas.
While at the Churchill Lounge, I decided to try lighting a couple of my cigars with a cedar spill, instead of using a match or lighter. After all, this was a special occasion, and it can be difficult to use a cedar spill outdoors. However, I still had a problem keeping the spill lit, as the ventilation inside of the lounge was just enough to cause an issue. Whether inside or out, I still prefer lighting a cigar with a jet flame cigar lighter.
Smoking a cigar is an enjoyable and festive occasion, and I cannot imagine being denied such a small pleasure while on a cruise ship vacation. Since the rules are always changing, make sure to ask about a cruise line's smoking policy before booking your next cruise. If you cannot accept their restrictions, then choose another cruise line.
Just a quick note about Cuban cigars, which are readily available for sale at many ports of call in the Caribbean and Central America (except in U.S. Territories). Smoking Cuban cigars is no longer illegal for U.S. citizens, so try a few while traveling abroad. However, watch out for counterfeits. You can now bring back up to 100 Cuban cigars duty free into the United States from any foreign country (maximum duty-free exemption is $800).