Smoke on the Water
From the Print Edition:
Phil Ivey, March/April 2010
Imagine a place with high-end accommodations, fine dining and first-class amenities that include luxurious smoking venues stocked with Cuban cigars and the top-shelf spirits. Now imagine that this magical place would travel with you as you moved from port to port. That in a nutshell is what you will find aboard many ships in the upper echelon of the cruise world. Forget The Love Boat and light up.
Luxury cruising had been the purview of smaller ships until Cunard’s tony Queen Mary 2 launched as the largest (it houses a planetarium) in 2004. It’s been outsized since, but it’s still among the cigar-friendliest with its Churchill’s Cigar Lounge (pictured) and other venues. Churchill’s matches leather-and-wood décor with cigar art and a healthy built-in humidor that stows such classics as the Montecristo No. 2 and Partagas Serie D No. 4. Fine spirits are available at the adjacent Commodore Club. (cunard.com)
Royal Caribbean quickly surpassed the QM2 in size with Freedom of the Seas, a family-friendly behemoth that brings ice skating and a wave runner to the high seas. But there’s adult respite on the vessel (as well on all the ships in the line’s Voyager and Freedom classes) in the form of its Connoisseur Clubs. Located among shopping and dining on the ship’s Royal Promenade, it has a modern décor and a menu strong on ports and brandies and dedicated to cigar education. While the permanent offerings feature such non-Cubans as Fuente, C.A.O., Rocky Patel and Davidoff, the menu expands depending on itinerary. (royalcaribbean.com)
While its ships may seem dwarfed by those aforementioned, Crystal Cruises has made its name by providing superior service and fine dining on larger vessels. In the Connoisseur Clubs (hey, it’s a popular name) of the Crystal Serenity and Symphony that means cushy surroundings and choosing from a cigar list thick with such classic Cubans as Partagas Lusitania and Punch Double Corona. Extensive drinking selections are particularly strong in single malts, vintage ports and brandies. (crystalcruises.com)
The smaller, ultraluxurious Silver Sea (silversea.com), with its Champagne Room and Humidor, as well as Norwegian Cruise Lines (ncl.com), with its Cigar Bars, also maintain favorable smoking policies. Regent Seven Seas (rssc.com), known for medium-sized luxury ships, keeps its (again) Connoisseur Clubs for pipe and cigar smoking. Depending on the ship, you may also be able to smoke in other areas, occasionally in staterooms or outdoor balconies attached to cabins. Some on-board casinos allow smoking, but it’s often limited to cigarettes.
The bad news is that some cruise lines have stricter policies since a discarded cigarette caused a fire with extensive damage and injury aboard a Celebrity ship. The tightest restrictions limit smoking to certain outside decks. Always check the cruise provider’s smoking policy and follow it. Not only do some ships impose stiff penalties, but our continued smoking freedom depends on respecting the rights of others.
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