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P&O announced a new policy regarding smoking today – from sometime early next year (the actual date will vary ship by ship), smoking will no longer be allowed on cabin balconies. [Update: I gather that Cunard have made the same policy change.]

I learned of this by email direct to me,  as “someone who has made a  booking to sail with P&O in 2014/15”.  The email says:

“…we are writing to inform you of a change we will be implementing regarding our current policy for smoking on board.

Following feedback from our passengers and the results of recent customer research, smoking will no longer be permitted on cabin balconies. Smoking is currently not permitted in cabins or public areas but the policy will continue to permit smoking in designated areas of the open deck“.

There’s no mention of how the new policy will be enforced or what polices will be applied to those who break the policy. It will apply from 4 April on Azura – I suspect that’s when she returns from her Caribbean winter season – and presumably from dates around then on the rest of the fleet.

I know from posts on Cruise Critic that some people feel that their holidays have been ruined by the presence of smokers on the balconies of adjoining cabins; I’ve read accounts of being passengers feeling unable to use the balcony because of the smoke. For myself, I’ll be honest and say that I’ve never been too bothered by the occasional smell of cigarette smoke wafting across our balcony. I hated having to walk through smoky areas inside the ship – I remember the Exchange on Ventura, for instance, or the Crows Nest on Oriana, or the casino on Galaxy being most unpleasant.  (The Crows Nest was supposed to be split between smoking and non-smoking sides but in practice the smoke and odour always permeated the whole room.) I was therefore very pleased when P&O went non-smoking in all inside rooms, but as regards this change – well, I suppose as a non-smoker I’m in favour, but it’s not that important to me.

There has been some reaction from the smokers. I read one comment to the effect that someone  (a smoker) specifically asked, just a few weeks ago, whether smoking was permitted on balconies, and duly booked when they were assured it was. Now they say they will be looking to cancel and get a full refund.

P&O join several other lines who already have the same policy – I believe Princess and Celebrity already do this, and perhaps others.

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