Clearing the air


I am not a smoker and never have been.

This is my take on what it means to smoke a cigarette: First, you pick up this little white combustible stick, and then you set it on fire. You next bring that little torch to within a few inches of your face and put one end (the one that is not on fire) in your mouth. Then you inhale, a process that produces smoke that gets in your eyes and maybe even makes them water.

This does not even take into account what you are doing to your lungs.

In some less verbal fashion, these thoughts bobbed about in my mind when friends and classmates tried, and sometimes became addicted to, cigarettes. I simply never saw the point and never lit one. (Except for Dad's pipe, I also grew up in a nonsmokers' household.)

It is no wonder someone who characterizes smoking the way I do would like the idea of, first, nonsmoking restaurants and nonsmoking flights, and now, a nonsmoking cruise ship.

Last weekend, I overnighted on the world's only all-nonsmoking ship, the Paradise, when it was in New York for preinaugural festivities.

The best site on our tour of the ship was the Rotterdam bar, described by a host as the "noncigar bar" because it is located where cigar bars are positioned on other Carnival ships, he said.

Crew and passengers agree not to smoke while aboard the vessel -- and there are plenty of other company ships to choose from for those who cannot take on this obligation.

Carnival calculated it could make a go of a smoke-free ship, noting that three-quarters of its clientele are nonsmokers, the same as in the general U.S. population. (It may be harder to bring group business to the vessel, however, given that in any sizeable group of people inclined to travel together, there often are a few smokers.)

Any passenger who smokes on the Paradise will be required to leave the ship at the next port and find his own way home. Crew members, drawn from the thousands of employees who have staffed other Carnival ships, would loose their jobs if caught violating their agreements.

One of our dinner mates observed that, not only will the humans be healthier, but almost certainly the ship will hold up better, too.

No doubt, the experience of cruising on the Paradise will be much like cruising on the other Carnival ships. The fact that it is smoke-free will be unremarkable, by which I mean passengers won't sit around talking about or even thinking much about the fact there is no smoke. That's because clean air is easy to get used to -- and to take for granted.

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI