Cruise Ship Etiquette Fumbles: Poolside Disputes and Chair Hogs

As cruise ships continue to expand, offering floating city-like experiences to thousands of passengers, one might assume a relaxing getaway awaits all. However, an atmosphere of contention over communal spaces, specifically around the much-coveted pool deck areas, seems to be rising.

With the capacity to house up to 7,600 passengers, Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas presents a scene where sundrenched disputes are not uncommon.

According to shared experiences on a Reddit forum, passengers frequently confront issues of entitlement and rudeness. Stories from the forum paint a vivid picture of confrontations over pool loungers, one of the prized commodities aboard.

Icon of the Seas Pool and Loungers

One notable incident involved a couple who had secured prime loungers during a less crowded port day. When one of them momentarily left, another passenger swiftly commandeered the lounger, leading to a verbal altercation that highlighted the high tensions over these coveted spots.

“I got up to go use the restroom and a lady jumped into my lounger and declared that I Ieft. All my stuff was sitting there along with my wife. I was maybe 10 feet away and came back to let her know I would be returning after I went to the bathroom. You would have thought I stole her puppy or something. Loudly complaining how it wasn’t fair, we had been there all day, blah blah blah,”  the user shared.

Even more extreme was an account of a passenger who, in fear of losing her lounger, chose to urinate in her seat rather than move—an act that quickly demanded crew intervention and her subsequent removal.

Carnival Cruise Line, facing similar challenges, has escalated efforts to manage the chair-hogging phenomenon with a new policy dubbed “chairing is caring.”

Since February 2024, the company has enforced a strict system where unattended loungers are tagged with stickers indicating the time the chair was found empty and the time items will be removed if the owner does not return promptly.

POV on a lounge chair on a royal caribbean ship
Source: r/Urpredondapwrply

This enforcement aims to curb the trend of reserving poolside chairs for extended periods without use, ensuring all passengers have a fair chance to enjoy the amenities.

The policy, while strict, allows brief absences for quick errands, striking a balance between maintaining order and accommodating passenger needs.

The debate over poolside etiquette isn’t just about chair hogging. It extends to broader conduct issues, such as ensuring no food and drinks spill into the pool, keeping watch over children to ensure their safety and the comfort of other passengers, and reserving more risqué behaviors like nude sunbathing for private settings.

As cruise lines continue to navigate these choppy waters of communal living, the core principles of respect and sharing—the very ethos of any communal space—are ever more critical.

For a harmonious voyage, passengers are reminded of the age-old wisdom: treat others as you would like to be treated, and remember, sharing is truly caring.

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