Carnival Cruise Lines won the first Gold Medal of London's Olympic Games. It's a medal that should have been awarded years ago, but finally - just as the Olympics were getting under way - the line stepped up to the plate with a cruising consumer action that will be cheered by all.
Lounger or deck chair hogs, you have been disqualified.
You know the people I'm talking about, don't you? The ones who leave a towel, a paperback, a newspaper or an empty beach bag on a lounger, for hours on end, with no one anywhere near the prized seat. Sometimes, you see patches of blue towels (colours will vary) and not a body to go with any of them.
Right now on the Breeze - Carnival's newest ship - the competition has begun (actually an experiment) to win back the loungers and the chairs from hogs who demand lounging rights all day while only using them periodically.
Once the vacant chair is spotted, a crew member will pin a note on it with the time the empty lounger was discovered. If noth-
ing has changed 40 minutes after the time posted the lounge hog's towel and belongings will be removed to be retrieved from the Towel Hut on the pool deck.
I can hear it now.
"Do you know who I am?"
"Do you know how many times I've sailed with your cruise line?"
"How dare you touch my [$1.49] novel?"
The lounger/deck chair police are going to need thick skin.
Why 40 minutes?
According to Carnival, that's time enough for lunch, maybe a drink, a swim, or a family meeting to make plans for the day. It's all new territory for Carnival and the testing will continue for a few more weeks - longer than the Olympics. Once Carnival's people have looked at all the comments and data, those in power will make a decision on the best plan and in short order it will make its way to all Carnival ships.
Now, if you've never cruised, you may wonder what all the fuss is all about over a bunch of chairs. As a cruise passenger who is up early eating breakfast near the pool and writing a blog for portsandbows.com, I can assure you I've seen people as early as 7 a.m. not only attempting to hold one lounger but several for the whole family. That person then disappears and so do I. After about an hour and half those loungers are still empty. Where did the lounger hogs go? Probably back to bed.
The "use it or lose it policy" should not be exclusive to cruise lines. How many guests have been frustrated when the same thing happens at resort or hotel pools?
Over the years, arguments have developed and at times you wonder if somebody is going to haul off and exert some physical force just to take back a lounger.
In cruising, all these problems occur on sea days. When in port, the majority of the cruisers are on shore and there is no shortage of places to sit on the deck. The early returns on many social media cruise sites are that they are being overwhelmed with positive comments.
I hope other cruise-line executives have bought a ticket on the Carnival Breeze during this experiment so they can report back to their respective cruise lines. And I hope they are now considering the same or possibly a different solution to this problem.
After all, I still have silver and bronze medals available.