The 1 thing you should never do on the pool deck of a cruise ship

You’re on vacation, the sun is shining on the Caribbean and your only goal for the day is to lay on a lounge chair by the pool of your cruise ship, order a pina colada and put your real worries aside. . You walk the Lido deck like a boss…only to find that every poolside lounge chair is occupied, either by actual cruise passengers or with their belongings. In the stalemate, you devise a plan: tomorrow you’ll get up early, reserve your favorite lounge chair with a towel and a cheap pocket book, then go back to bed before enjoying a leisurely breakfast and heading back to the pool terrace around 11:30 a.m.

Stop! It’s lounge chair hog behavior, and it’s the one thing you should never do on the deck of a cruise ship pool.

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Anyone who has sailed on a mainstream megaship has witnessed the infuriating phenomenon of lounger hogs: cruisers rise early, claim prime lounger locations on the pool deck, leaving their towel or a book on the chair , then disappear for hours, preventing other sun worshipers from using the chairs but not occupying them until later in the day.

Lounger pigs are universally despised. “The real greedy bastards take a chair in the sun and then one in the shade and go back and forth. How nice,” laments Frank Valentino on the TPG Lounge’s Facebook page. Unfortunately, cruise lines report that most cruise lines don’t do enough to prevent these unauthorized lounge chair “reservations”. Try to take matters into your own hands by removing objects from seemingly unused chairs, and you could find yourself in a bind when their owners return.

Cruise ships may get bigger year after year, but somehow the ratio of sun worshipers to deck chairs is always low. I can see why you might want to take the “if you can’t beat them – join them” approach, but please don’t. We need fewer deckchair pigs, not more.

Instead, let’s look at how cruise lines claim to prevent absentee lounger owners and what you can do to secure your spot in the sun without incurring the wrath of your shipmates.

How Cruise Lines Are Fighting Beach Pigs


Many cruise lines claim that crew members on the pool deck will monitor chairs and remove items from unoccupied chairs. Carnival Cruise Line details its policy in its FAQ:

“Carnival has a system designed to ensure that all guests can enjoy equal access to lounge chairs by preventing economy of seating in outdoor deck areas,” the website states. “Team members on board monitor lounger usage and if they observe a seat that contains a towel or personal effects but appears unoccupied, a notification is placed on the lounger indicating the current time. If the chair remains unoccupied for 40 minutes, the contents are removed and kept for the customer’s safekeeping.

Brilliant idea, you might say. Traveling crew members will essentially time stamp reserved but unused chairs and quickly remove abandoned items to allow more cruisers access to the best loungers. While some TPG readers claim to have seen this in action, I have never witnessed it myself. Why is this policy so difficult to enforce? I see several flaws in the plan.

First, cruise ships, along with much of the hospitality industry, are still struggling with post-pandemic staffing issues. I can’t believe there are extra crew members available to just walk around the upper decks, noting which chairs have been empty for a long time, flagging those chairs and returning within the hour to remove items . Most crew members have larger responsibilities, such as removing empty glasses or cleaning up slippery puddles to avoid injury.

Second, how can a busy crew member determine which chair is occupied and which is occupied by someone in the pool? Water lovers can spend 40 minutes or more enjoying the various pools and hot tubs on the Lido deck. Would crew members always remove their items, so when they come out of the water they have to go looking for their towel?

Finally, many lounger hogs simply leave a towel to mark their territory, but other passengers may leave a book or other personal items. If the crew removes these items, it may not be easy to return them to their owners without loss or theft.

A better plan for finding cruise ship loungers


TPG readers have posted several great ideas for using technology or advance reservation systems to allow cruise lines to legitimately reserve loungers in limited-time windows to give everyone access. But until that pool deck utopia becomes a reality, you’ll need better strategies for securing lounge chairs.

Get up early and take a nap by the pool

“I woke up early and claimed my place in the Serenity deck, BUT I stayed there,” Michele Allison posted, and she’s right. It’s perfectly fine to spend all day in a lounger, as long as you’re physically there. Stumble out of bed, put on a bathing suit and camp out in your favorite lounge chair. You can nap in the sun for as long as you want if you need to catch up on those Zs you missed.

Find alternate bridge areas

“I found that Princess has plenty of chairs, all over the ship…there are always plenty of chairs available,” Linda Ialacci said. “There are only a limited number around the pool, but if you’re just sunbathing or reading a book etc, it’s always nice to have a chair that faces the water.”

The pool deck is the most popular tanning spot, but it’s not the only one. Go up one or two decks, and there are usually open deck areas with lounge chairs running the length of the ship. Some ships have lower level promenade decks with lounge chairs and sometimes hot tubs, scattered from bow to stern. Some Carnival ships have insulated foredecks with benches you could claim as your own; Seabourn has hot tubs out front that everyone always overlooks.

Book a stateroom or suite with a balcony

“I can’t be bothered by such nonsense,” says Sara Voohees. “I always book a balcony and enjoy the seclusion of my own private balcony!”

Most balconies are equipped with two upright armchairs, perfect for reading or sipping a cocktail in the sun. If you prefer to stretch out, look for higher-category rooms with larger verandas. These can have full sun loungers or reclining seats with ottoman footrests. No matter what type of balcony you book, the only people you’ll be fighting for a seat with are your family.

Not only are the suites generally equipped with balconies (often very large), but some have access to a terrace reserved for the suites. You’ll find them at Norwegian Cruise Line’s Haven or MSC Cruises’ Yacht Club. In these exclusive areas, you’ll be competing with far fewer people for loungers – and loungers might also be nicer with extra padding.

Pay for a cabana or exclusive access to the sun deck

The lounge chair problem is one you can solve by throwing money at it. Several cruise lines, including Celebrity, Holland America, Norwegian Cruise Line and Princess, offer cabins for rent or sell passes to exclusive sun deck areas. With a cabana, you get a (usually) shaded space to yourself, with a lounge chair or sofa all to yourself. With the limited-access sun decks, you might not get a reserved chair, but the line won’t sell more passes than it has loungers. A stress-free day in the sun may be worth the extra cost if chasing lounge chairs raises your blood pressure.

Go on a cruise in cold weather

“Cruising Alaska,” recommends Helen Goldner Engel. “Never a problem getting a chair.”

Obviously, this strategy is ironic, but it is still true. If you use a hot tub in all weathers or don’t mind packing in to soak up some vitamin D on a chilly day, I guarantee you won’t have to fight the cruise ship crowds. for this privileged deck chair location.

Move people’s stuff

“I’m going to move stuff,” says Laura Zuluaga Jimenez. “Let them mind their own business in lost and found.”

It is true that a shabby towel does not grant a person ownership of a deckchair for a day. If you see vacant lounge chairs that don’t seem to have any residents in sight, you can move the items around and sit down. If the owners come back, it’s not like they have a legal right to the chair.

However – and this is a big caveat to this strategy – your shipmates aren’t always rational people, especially if they’ve spent the morning losing at the casino or drinking a bucket of beer. They may become aggressive when they find out that you have touched their belongings. Take this approach at your own risk.

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