Smoked out of my suite on the Carnival Miracle

Andrew Besterman’s eight-day cruise to the Bahamas on the Carnival Miracle was something short of divine. For the duration of the journey, he was annoyed by the odor of cigarette smoke which seeped into his mini-suite from the cabin next door.

“Every time the passengers in the next stateroom lit up their cigarettes the smoke came into our room,” he says. “Since our bed shared a common wall, we could tell exactly when our neighbors smoked.”

A few days after his cruise, Carnival tightened its smoking policy, banning smoking in all staterooms. But alas, not in time for his vacation.

Now Besterman wants to be compensated for the nicotine-saturated clothes, his dry sinus and the general discomfort that non-smokers feel when they have to inhale secondhand smoke.

It’s important to acknowledge the other side of this issue, difficult as it may be. Smokers feel as if they have a right to light up, and that as long as there is no “no smoking” sign, they should be allowed to puff away to their heart’s content. Some might even be offended at fellow travelers who, they say, falsely claim they have “allergies” to cigarette smoke in an effort to stop them from smoking.

I don’t want to get drawn into that debate, although as a non-smoker, and as someone who had the identical problem on a cruise ship recently, I sympathize with this passenger. (More on my smoke-out in a second.)

Besterman did his best to address the complaint during his cruise. He believed his had a reasonable expectation of clean air in his cabin.

“I would expect that the ventilation system on the inside worked properly so that the cigarette smoke did not come into our room,” he says.

Carnival tried to address his smoke problem during the journey.

Housekeeping kept “freshening” up our room, but the issue was the smoke came through like clockwork whenever our neighbor’s lit up. I was even able to have our room steward come to our room when it was actually happening to attest I wasn’t out in left field.

Besterman appealed to several Carnival employees and managers during the week, including Guest Services and finally, to a senior supervisor.

“I realized quickly I wasn’t going to get very far,” he says.

Carnival suggested he take up the issue with corporate after he returned. So he did, putting his grievance in writing and asking for a discount off a future Carnival cruise.

The response? More of the same.

We regret to note your comments regarding your accommodations.

We know that a relaxing vacation is something you look forward to and we agree that a smoke free cabin is key to rest and relaxation.

As you are aware, effective December 20, 2011 all cabins on all the Carnival ships will be smoke free. Any guests who smoke in their cabin will be billed a $250.00 cleaning charge.

I realize this doesn’t help much with your recent cruise, but it may make it possible for you to cruise in comfort with us in the future. Unfortunately, this is not an event that we can offer compensation for. We apologize for any disappointment this may cause.

Besterman appealed to a Carnival manager, but the answer was unchanged: No compensation for a smoky room.

I feel for him. On a recent European cruise, on a ship that didn’t allow smoking in the cabins, the occupants of the room next to us were heavy smokers. We couldn’t open the door to our balconies without being hit by a cloud of carcinogens. The odor even came through the cabin door during the evening, when the couple would sit outside in the evening and consume half a pack.

We fled our cabin in response, spending most of our time in other parts of the ship or ashore. But had the cruise been any longer, and had the balcony been a more important part of the cruise experience (it isn’t when you have small children that love to climb) then I might have felt different about the whole thing.

Besterman’s request isn’t entirely unreasonable, but I’m not sure if I can — or should — try to squeeze anything out of Carnival. I think it may view its policy change as a concession, if not a form of compensation, for passengers like Besterman.

(Photo: Steamboats dot org/Flickr)

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at . Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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