This week, Holland America Line said it would implement a new smoking policy, which should have non-smoking cruisers breathing a (clean) sigh of relief. The cruise line was one of the last to still allow passengers to smoke on cabin balconies.

For non-smokers, here's the issue: You pay extra for a stateroom with a balcony, but sitting under clear skies and gazing out at the open sea from your own private space might be clouded (literally) by smoke wafting over from your neighbors, less than a foot away from you.

In the past few years, Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, and really every other major line has expanded bans on smoking in cabins to include balconies. Holland America Line was a holdout.

But smoking passengers who might have been offended by a ban are now in the minority. "The new policy has been announced to better align with current guest wishes and health concerns," Holland America Line said in a statement.

The new ban takes effect in January on most ships, and in April on the Prinsendam and May on the Amsterdam.

There is still smoking permitted on most cruise ships in designated outdoor and even some indoor spaces. On Holland America Line, smoking is allowed near the aft pools and in a designated slots area of the casino (except on Eurodam and Oosterdam, which are completely non-smoking indoors), as well as on some sports decks.

With the new policy, smokers can light up, and the rest of us can at least try our darndest to avoid them.

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