7 Smart Strategies to Outwit Chair Hogs on Cruise Ships - Cruise with Leo

7 Smart Strategies to Outwit Chair Hogs on Cruise Ships

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chair hogs on cruise ship

Dealing with chair hogs on a cruise ship can be frustrating. It looks like it’s an international thing, I’ve seen them everywhere: in the US, in Europe, and even in Asia.

Is there any effective strategy to ensure you get a spot by the pool?

I thought about it for a long time and created a list of the things that should be the most useful and effective.

I don’t know if they can solve the problem, but they will certainly help. If you have any other useful tips, please feel free to let us know in the comments!

1. Wake Up Early

sunrise from a cruise ship
Sunrise from a cruise ship

If you want to secure a good spot by the pool, waking up early is the best thing you can do.

Chair hogs are notorious for staking out their territory at the crack of dawn, so beating them at their own game is key.

You’re probably thinking that setting your alarm for an ungodly hour might not be the best idea for a relaxing vacation, but sometimes the payoff is worth it.

If you arrive early, you can basically choose every chair, and you can pick the perfect spot to enjoy the sun of that day.

However, remember to actually use the chair and not reserve it.
Simply reserving it and walking away turns you into the very thing you’re trying to avoid—a chair hog yourself!

2. Use Other Decks

Aft pool on Grand Princess
Aft pool on Grand Princess (usually very quiet)

In my experience, the main pool deck is where all passengers try to go.

As a result, it is almost always crowded, and it is difficult to find free deck chairs.

The thing to consider is that on cruise ships there may be chairs on several decks, many of which are more hidden from the crowd.

In addition, many ships have a larger central pool (very crowded) but may also have smaller pools at the bow or stern.

My advice is to check the ship’s plan before you leave to see where the areas with the most hidden lounge chairs are located.

Those should be less crowded, and it should be easier to find free ones.

3. Know the Cruise Line Policies

sticker on unattended chair royal caribbean
Sticker on an unattended chair on Royal Caribbean

Many cruise lines have implemented strict policies to combat chair hogging.

A good thing you can do is to check the policy of the cruise line you will be traveling with.

For example, Carnival’s “ChairShare Team” places stickers on unattended chairs with the time indicated on them.

If the items are not claimed within 40 minutes, they are removed to free up the chair for other guests.

Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, and MSC have similar policies, typically allowing 20 to 30 minutes before removing items.

msc deck chairs policy
MSC deck chairs policy

4. Talk to the Crew

To follow up on the previous point, if you notice abandoned items, don’t hesitate to involve crew members.

I advise against doing things on your own; it is best not to touch other people’s objects or move their things.

Instead, you can go to the towel station, where there will be towel attendants who could help you.

Explain to them that you have noticed deck chairs that have been unattended for quite some time, and they will probably go and attach the sticker I mentioned earlier.

After the required time has passed, they will remove the things and the chair can be taken up by another guest.

5. Book Exclusive Areas

Loft 19 on Carnival
Loft 19 on Carnival

A very interesting thing is that some cruise lines have exclusive areas with limited access.

These areas sometimes can be booked in advance (for a fee) or can be accessed if you have the right to do so (if you have a suite or any other premium package).

Check if your ship has one, usually, these areas are called:

  • The Retreat on Holland America
  • The Sanctuary on Princess Cruises
  • Vibe Beach Club on Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Top Exclusive Solarium on MSC
  • The grove on Royal Caribbean
  • Loft 19 on Carnival

They can also come with additional perks such as improved bar service, private hot tubs, more comfortable seating, or private cabanas with dedicated seating and shade.

Private cabanas
Private cabanas

5. Go to the Pool During Port Days

Sometimes, to be able to find a free deck chair, you just have to understand the balance between supply and demand.

If you go to the pool at peak time, during a very sunny sea day, it will be almost impossible to find a free lounger in a short time.

If you want to have more chances, head to the pool during off-peak hours.
For example, early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

In addition, pay attention to the days. During a port day, when everyone gets off the ship, many of the deck chairs will remain free!

7. Don’t be Scared to Ask Other Passengers

chair hogs on harmony of the seas
Chair hogs on Harmony of the Seas

Sometimes, cruise passengers save chairs for friends or family who might not show up for a while, or might not show up at all.

If a chair looks like is taken, but there’s no one sitting on it, ask the other person if you can take it.

For example, someone in a group of people might go doing something else, but the towel is not removed from the deck chair.

By being friendly and asking if you can use a saved chair, you might secure a spot without any hassle.

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