Cruising dilemma. Which rooms to choose?
June 4, 2008 8:43 AM   Subscribe

For my 30th birthday present, my mom is organizing a family girls-only Caribbean cruise for the two of us and my two aunts. According to the travel agent, we have two options. Both are Carnival cruises, with the same ports of call. We're having issues deciding which one to pick.

Difficulty: My mom and 1 of my aunts smoke. I do not, and neither does my other aunt. The smokers are life long chain smokers, and cannot comprehend not smoking in their room, at all. Period. Even though I grew up in a smoking household, I can no longer handle the smoke. In addition to all the usual reasons (it stinks, it gets into my hair and clothes and makes me stink, etc...) it also makes my headaches considerably worse. (I have a weird neuro vascular issue that causes, among other things, daily headaches. They're mostly under control, but that's partially because I avoid triggers... like cigarette smoke.)

So - which one should we go with? This decision is causing serious stress for all involved...

Option 1: The Penthouse Suite
All four of us in 1 suite. It's nice; it has a private balcony, jacuzzi tub in the bathroom, and it's roomy. 2 twin beds, plus a couch that folds out into a king bed. Comes with priority boarding, and a nicer suite in the hotel before the cruise. Is also costs $1200 more for the 4 of us, but lets pretend that isn't an issue. The cruise is in early September, on a brand new ship.

Option 2:
Two inner connecting staterooms. Hence, two (shower-only) bathrooms. 4 twin beds total. The rooms are on the bottom floor of the boat (of the part accessible by passengers, that is). Regular boarding times. Cruise is in late September, on a older 15 year old boat. Two smokers in one room, the two non-smokers in the other.

So - do we take the obviously better Option 1, and deal with the smoking issues? Basically, that involves me dealing with it, and leaving the room when they need to smoke. But even with the window open, the room will still smell, and get into my luggage, etc. This will cause guilt all around - me for being the one who can't deal with it (it doesn't really bother my other non-smoking aunt), and guilt for mom/aunt who can't kick the habit and *need* to smoke in the room. (There is no arguing this fact. Apparently they also can't smoke on the room's balcony according to the cruise ship's rules, due to people dropping butts over the balcony edge, etc.)

Or, do we take Option 2? To me, this seems like the way to go (you don't spend much time in your room anyway, and 2 bathrooms are better than 1). But my mom is leaning the other way, because it's "the trip of a lifetime". (We're not big travellers.) In the end however, it's my decision (it is my birthday, after all!)

Thoughts? Opinions? Cruising experiences I can learn from? Thanks in advance!
posted by cgg to Travel & Transportation (16 answers total)
It's your birthday. You can either tell your mother that she can choose option 1, but no smoking in the room, or option 2, with smoking in their room. Or you can just arbitrarily choose option 2, on the possibility that once you're all stuck in the same room, she and/or your aunt may well forget and smoke in the room. (In theory you can request a non-smoking suite, if they exist, but in practice I've found that hotels rarely care about smokers in non-smoking suites. Cruises may be different.)

I'd go with option 2, because I would spend every second resentful that all my stuff smells and my hair stinks otherwise, and I don't get sick from smoke (what happens if your mother or aunt needs to smoke while you're asleep and you cannot leave the room?). Also I hate fold-out beds, and wouldn't want to force that on anyone. The bathroom thing would seal the deal.
posted by jeather at 9:06 AM on June 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Option 1 - make them smoke outside. Also you really won't be spending that much time in the room anyway.
posted by doorsfan at 9:08 AM on June 4, 2008

make them smoke outside
Sorry i missed your note about not smoking on the balcony.

No perfect answer on this one but since it's your b-day go big. I had a suite on my honeymoon and it was awesome! The rooms are iin pretty close proximity to a deck so maybe your fam will understand and take the extra 15 steps in the morning and at night.

Have an awesome time! I'm jealous (except for the smoking thing j/k).
posted by doorsfan at 9:14 AM on June 4, 2008

You aren't supposed to smoke on the balcony for just the reason you cite, but no one is going to enforce it. They just need to put their butts out completely in the ashtray on the balcony. Everyone who smokes and has a balcony smokes out there.

Also: perhaps expand your options. Other ships (from this line or others), will have more room options. Big suite, little suite, inter connecting rooms each with balconies, and so on.
posted by poppo at 9:25 AM on June 4, 2008

option 2 for the reasons given by jeather. if smoking outside is absolutely NOT an option, and smoking inside whatever room the smokers are staying in is a given, then you're going to want to keep it as far from you as possible - do you really want to spend your vacation and birthday stinky and with a headache?
posted by alpha_betty at 9:33 AM on June 4, 2008

If being around smoke will definitely make you feel awful, and if your mother and aunt definitely have to smoke constantly, then I think you definitely need to get two inside cabins.

It seems like a major pain to get up every X minutes to leave the room while they have a cigarette. Also, while the ventilation should be pretty good, the room won't be instantaneously free of the smell of smoke. Even when they're not actively puffing, it could be an irritant.

Also, if by "the two of us" you mean you and your significant other, that reason alone would persuade me to choose separate (if inside) cabins. These suites aren't really that large, and there wouldn't be much privacy.

BTW, I'd consider getting one down the hall, rather than an adjoining cabin, so that you don't have to proactively close the door to keep smoke out (which they could easily forget to do). When you do want to spend time all four of you, it would be better to hang out in a lounge or outdoor area where the ventilation will be better.

Hope that helps. I'd also recommend the guide to cruises. There's a section describing life on board, stuff to know before you go (what to pack, the cell phone situation, etc).
posted by CruiseSavvy at 9:53 AM on June 4, 2008

You don't want to be in the bottom of a 15 year old Carnival ship. I've cruised on several lines (Holland America, Princess, Carnival, Crystal, Seven Seas) and Carnival ships are at the lower end of the comfort scale in the first place, let alone a 15 year old boat. You're going to spend a lot more time in your room than you think you will - I'd go for Option 1 (especially if Option 2 is an inside cabin) and have them smoke discretely on the balcony wherever possible. It's your fabulous three-oh - go big!
posted by meerkatty at 9:53 AM on June 4, 2008

I'd go for option 2, because of the bathrooms and the smoking issue. One bathroom for four people means a lot of waiting for showers, and heaven help you if two of you eat something you shouldn't at some point or get seasick.
posted by Forktine at 9:54 AM on June 4, 2008

4 people in a room is a squeeze, even with a suite. Your smoking relatives will most likely be able to get away with smoking on the balcony, but two people sharing a couch bed will be a pain. They are not that comfortable, and tend to sag in the middle, so for people who don't necessarily want to be cuddling, it'll be a challenge.

On the other hand, inside rooms in an old ship will be small and stuffy and not too exciting, and being in connecting rooms means you'll probably smell the smoke anyway.

If there is no way at all to try to look for a different cruise, I'd probably end up flipping a coin, or perhaps vaguely prefer the suite, but not by much. I wouldn't want to spend a large number of nights on a couch bed with another person. I've done it by myself and that was just tolerable.
posted by that girl at 10:19 AM on June 4, 2008

Go for option 1 and buy some nicotine patches ;) A Carribean cruise sounds like a great way to quit.

If your mum and aunt can't be polite enough not smoke inside your shared living space for the duration of your birthday cruise then you have to go for option 2. Its your birthday, you don't want it ruined by constant headaches and smelly clothes. 2 bathrooms are good too! If your mum wants the good room she has to agree not to smoke.
posted by missmagenta at 11:01 AM on June 4, 2008

Option 2 sounds a lot less stressful to me.
posted by desuetude at 11:10 AM on June 4, 2008

smoking issues aside, go for option 1. and as for the smoking issue: tough titties. it is YOUR birthday cruise. they can smoke outside on the balcony or by the pool or whatever. are you even allowed to smoke in the room?
posted by misanthropicsarah at 11:33 AM on June 4, 2008

If anyone is at all prone to seasickness, those inner cabins are quite possibly going to feel like bedrooms in Hell. I've been on quite a few cruises and I cannot emphasize enough how much nicer it is to have a balcony than to have blank walls.
posted by houseofdanie at 12:08 PM on June 4, 2008

Depending on how early "early September" is, you might have a LOT of teens/20-somethings on your cruise. Carnival is a party cruise line, and the Caribbean is a party destination. Late September would greatly reduce the teen/college student population on your ship. That's the only reason, though, I'd pick the option with 2 inside cabins. I've been on a couple of cruises, and those cabins are SMALL.

Other than the issue above, I'd absolutely pick the Penthouse. I'd be really surprised if no smoking on the balcony was enforced - it surprises me that it's policy at all. I would double check with the cruise line. More space is much better. Also, is Carnival really the only option? I would think there's lots of cruise lines headed for the Caribbean.

Finally, Cruise Critic is your friend for questions like this. Lots of reviews, info, and message boards.
posted by booksherpa at 12:34 PM on June 4, 2008

I take no joy in the fact that I'm a fairly heavy smoker.

I'm used to being personally inconvenienced in the pursuit of observing rules and current social norms It goes with the territory.

I've taken five cruises with my family, and two of these were after I'd supposedly quit (but not really). I was sneaking a lot of cigarettes.

Large modern cruise ships offer so many opportunities to do fun things that we essentially used our cabins only for bathing and sleeping. I never considered smoking in the cabin even before I went covert.

There are plenty of places on board to smoke and to feel comfortable while doing do.

Regardless of what alternative you decide, I don't think asking anybody to refrain from smoking inside a cabin in unreasonable, and I don't think it will put any kind of burden on the smokers in your group; even heavy smokers.

Whatever you decide, have fun! If I had unlimited financial resources I'd spend the rest of my life on cruise ships.
posted by imjustsaying at 4:31 PM on June 4, 2008

I'd be really surprised if no smoking on the balcony was enforced - it surprises me that it's policy at all. I would double check with the cruise line.

Search for ["Star Princess" fire] to find out why cigarettes and cruise ship balconies are not a good combination. Depending on just how brand-new the ship is the balconies might be made out of stuff that doesn't burn, and there may be sprinkler systems on them; there's been a whole lot of refitting and rearranging in the last two years, but as far as I know there aren't any actual rules yet, just a lot of guidelines. And I don't know which ships/companies have got their work done yet, either.
posted by Lebannen at 5:12 PM on June 4, 2008

« Older Stupid WiFi security snafu I'm wasting my question...   |   At $4.40/gallon, OUCH! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.