Limits to enforcing nonsmoking on board

ITN was mailed a copy of a letter sent by a reader to Oceanwide Expeditions, as follows.

My husband, Gene, and I were on Oceanwide Expeditions’ voyage to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula aboard M/V Aleksey Maryshev, Jan. 28-Feb. 15, 2007.

The expedition leader, Rolf Stange, and the guides and lecturers John Harrison and Rupert Krapp were well organized, fit and prepared for anything — and good company as well. Alan Hogan worked hard as hotel manager.

We knew that the ship is not a cruise ship, and we were grateful for its ability to handle rough weather during our difficult crossings. We did not expect cruise ship cuisine, and the food service was adequate. Our cabin was kept clean and well supplied by the housekeepers, one of whom was a very pleasant woman named Valentina.

We do feel compelled to express our unhappiness with one important feature of the voyage, however: smoking on the ship. We suffered nights in our cabin that were so smoky we could not sleep. Every day, the air in the corridors, bar and dining room was unpleasant to breathe because of smoke coming from somewhere.

On Jan. 30 we talked with Rolf, the ship’s doctor and Alan. They agreed with us that the corridor was smoky, as was our cabin (No. 414). Rolf talked to the captain. Alan said he also would talk to the captain.

On Feb. 1 the air in the bar was smoky, so we skipped the review of birds seen that day.

On Feb. 3 the smoke was thick at 4 a.m. We later talked with Rolf again and Rupert. Rolf said, “A search will be carried out if this problem continues.” He also added a “no smoking” reminder to his lecture.

On Feb. 6 a member of our group was on the third deck and smelled something burning. In a bucket used for cigarettes, a cigarette carton was blazing. He used the cup of coffee in his hand to put it out. We reported this to Rolf.

On Feb. 8 our group leader told us that the German passengers claimed their brochure said they could smoke in their cabins.

We are grateful for the efforts of Rolf, Rupert and Alan to try to control the problem of smoking on the ship, but, in spite of all the wonderful sights we saw and the excellent staff in charge of our safety and well being, we still feel we cannot recommend Oceanwide Expeditions to our friends.

Cabin 414 may be in the worst position to receive smoke from the corridors and from the bridge; however, the smell of smoke was present in all the public areas of the ship every day.


Davis, CA

ITN sent a copy of the above letter to Oceanwide Expeditions (15710 JFK Blvd., Ste. 285, Houston, TX 77032) and received the following e-mail.

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to reply to this complaint.

The vessels of Oceanwide Expeditions are smoking-free, and it is not tolerable that anyone smokes in the public areas such as the bar, restaurant and corridors.

It is furthermore not acceptable that passengers smoke in their cabins, but we cannot totally control this. Passengers can decide to smoke in their cabins although this is forbidden. However, if we receive a complaint or the hotel staff finds out, the hotel manager will discuss this with the passenger in question and ask him/her politely not to smoke in their cabin.

These passengers normally follow these instructions. However, if someone refuses, we have no real sanctions at our disposal. If a passenger smokes in one of the public areas, the policy is that the passenger in question will be asked immediately to stop smoking. I have never heard of this before, so I am very surprised that this happened during this voyage.

We have instructed the staff again that smoking is not allowed in public areas under any circumstances. We are truly sorry that it happened on this voyage and affected the passengers’ experience on board.

RIMA DEEB GRANADO, Director of Sales North America, Oceanwide Expeditions-USA & Canada Reservations Office