One of the biggest problems that leads to guest complaints on cruise ships is the infamous chair hog situation, when inconsiderate guests attempt to claim prime poolside lounge chairs for hours without actually using them.

Carnival Cruise Line has renewed its efforts to crack down on this problem and encourage “chairing is caring” with strict enforcement of its no-saving-chairs policy through sticker notifications and time limits.

Chairs and loungers on the pool deck are in high demand on cruise ships, particularly during days at sea when many passengers want to enjoy time in the sun and splashes in the pool.

Carnival Cruise Line Brand Ambassador John Heald, who is currently onboard Carnival Horizon for his sixth “FFS Cruise,” has addressed the problem in one of his “morning walkies” videos around the ship, noting that the cruise line is doing its best to regulate the problem.

Crew members monitoring the pool deck – the “ChairShare Team” – are placing stickers on empty chairs that have towels clipped to them or are otherwise supposedly saved with a book, pair of flip flops, or other item.

The stickers that crew members put on so-called “reserved” chairs say note the time the sticker was placed and when personal items will be removed.

Carnival Cruise Line Lido Deck (Photo Copyright: Cruise Hive)

“We stopped by at _____ and found this chair empty,” the stickers read. “Hope you’re having a great time… but for the benefit of all we limit how long chairs can be left unattended. At _____ we’ll move your stuff to the towel hut for safekeeping.”

Crew members fill in the blanks with the appropriate times. The first blank is when the sticker was placed on an empty “reserved” chair, and the second blank is when the items will be removed – 40 minutes later.

“If they are not back by that time, we will remove it,” confirmed Heald. “It’s the only way we can make it fair.”

All cruise travelers, whether on their first sailing or if they have enjoyed dozens of cruises over the years, are familiar with this type of seat-saving, which can generate bad feelings when someone wants to enjoy the pool but finds all the best seats taken with no other passengers nearby.

Heald also notes that this is not an uncommon problem or a new occurrence, as it is found on all cruise ships.

“Ever since I’ve worked on ships there’ve been people desperate to get the chairs,” he said.

Of course, there is flexibility, and it is perfectly understandable for a guest to find a chair they want and put their items on it, only to leave briefly for breakfast, a restroom break, or to dip in the pool themselves. The problem arises when chairs remain empty for hours, unavailable for other guests to use.

Read Also: 15 Most Annoying Things People Do on Cruises

Putting the timed stickers on the chairs is a way Carnival Cruise Line is attempting to mitigate the problem.

“We are doing our very very best,” Heald said. “It’s not a perfect system, it would be silly of me to suggest otherwise. But it is something that we need to do. People who say we don’t do anything, that’s absolutely not true.”

Carnival Cruise Line Deck (Photo Copyright: Cruise Hive)

The timed stickers also give other guests a point of reference for when more chairs might become available, permitting them to return and check for newly opened chairs at a later time.

Carnival first began the timed sticker program in October 2022, and also updated signage around the pool area alerting guests to the no-reserving-chairs policy. Announcements are often made over the ship’s PA system to remind guests of the policy, and the policy is noted in the Carnival Hub app as well as posted on the poolside theater screens where available.

The cruise line’s website also discusses reserving sun loungers and the prohibition on saving seats in outdoor deck areas.

“Shipboard team members monitor sun lounge usage and if they observe a seat that contains a towel or personal belongings but appears to be unoccupied, a notification is placed on the chair indicating the current time,” the policy reads. “If the chair remains unoccupied for 40 minutes, the contents are removed and held for the guest’s safekeeping.”

Have you seen these stickers on Carnival lounge chairs? Have you tried to reserve a chair? Share your thoughts on the Cruise Hive boards!

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