Photo by Theresa Masek
Once upon a time, Carnival Cruise Line built the first entirely non-smoking ship complete with non-smoking symbols largely painted on each side of the vessel and on its stern. The policy was so strictly enforced that even workers at the Kvaerner Masa-Yards shipbuilding facility in Helsinki, Finland were expected to abide by it during the vessel’s construction. The ship was called Paradise.
Launched in 1998, the Paradise was applauded by anti-smoking and cancer-prevention organizations. She may have been the last of eight Fantasy-class ships built by Carnival, but she was ahead of her time when it came to the onboard lifestyle. Not only was the act of smoking forbidden, absolutely no smoking materials were allowed on the ship, and if any were discovered, the guest would be fined $250 and removed from the ship at the next port.
It was a way of cruising I would have loved to experience, to be able to go deck by deck without the faintest whiff of burning tobacco, but alas it did not remain so. Carnival Cruise Line sadly succumbed to financial pressure and reversed the very policy the ship set sail upon in 2003, claiming poor revenue as the excuse. The conclusion was that non-smokers did not drink nor gamble as frequently as their counterparts.
So, come 2004, when the ship was repositioned for three- and four-night sailings from Long Beach, California to Ensenada, Mexico and Santa Catalina Island, California, the ship’s prominent non-smoking signs were painted over. However, they were originally welded on, and although now white to blend in, the relief of the metallic symbols can still be made out when the sun casts a shadow just right, a reminder of a good idea introduced too early.
Having heard enough complaints about smoking from fellow passengers recently and seen the progressive banning of it from cruise ship balconies, I believe the original Paradise concept would succeed today. The ship, since renamed Carnival Paradise, could even reintroduce the policy as a test run that I know plenty of cruise travelers would welcome in a smoke-free heartbeat, myself included.
It’s a fact: secondhand smoke is a safety hazard to the majority of passengers that do not participate. After all, like the political ads promoting a since-passed smoking ban in California bars once exclaimed, “It’s about health, and it’s about time.”