On my past cruise, I just took a towel from my stateroom, and that night, left it in a clear spot so that my stateroom attendant could see that I returned the towel. I checked my statement at the end of the cruise, and I wasn't billed for the towels.
If I had brought towels from home, that most likely would have brought my bag over the 50 pound weight limit for the airline. Not sure what the fee is for overweight bags (50-70 lbs.)
2007 - Majesty of the Seas (Bahamas)
2009 - Enchantment of the Seas (Western Caribbean)
2010 - Freedom of the Seas (Western Caribbean)
2013 - Golden Princess (Alaska, roundtrip from Seattle)
Which cruise line are you going with? The process for pool/beach towels varies.
On Royal Caribbean, they have standardized it across the fleet now where all beach towels must be checked out at designated areas. They scan your cruise card and then when you return the towels they scan your card again to clear it. Technically you aren't supposed to take bath towels from the cabin. At least that is the intent. Towels not returned by the end of the cruise will garner you a loss fee (I think it is now $25 per towel but maybe it is still $20)
Other lines will leave beach towels in your cabin and if they are not returned they'll charge you.
In any case, please don't bring towels from home. That is not necessary, plus you'll be responsible for cleaning them which isn't free.
That brings up an observation of the policy/procedure that we encountered on our last cruise with RCI at the pool..Their appeared to be no continuity with getting the towels at the pool area. Sometimes their would be an attendant that would ask for your room number and/or name when you took 1 or 2 towels and so noted on a pad and then sometimes there would be noone there when you returned it later. Never knew whether to wait for someone to check you out or just throw it in the pile. We were not charged for any so that is good. We usually took our towels from the room and returned to same at end of port day.
My understanding is they have rolled out the new RCI towel policy fleet wide, but we know how that can go. It wouldn't surprise me if there are still one or two ships not doing it the new way.
The new way is with laptop computers and handheld card readers at each towel station. No towels issued without scanning your cruise card. No returns without scanning your cruise card. On the Oasis they always had at least one towel station open. It could be a hassle to find which station was open since they closed some of them at off-peak hours, but it was the passengers obligation to do so if they wanted to return towels. At peak times they had all stations available. I think there were four or five of them.
Another note: you had to use the same card. Some people had checked out towels and then another person returned them, but their card had not been charged for the check-out.
Interesting concept Dave; one wonders if there is such a misappropriation of pool towels by cruisers that it it worth the time and hassle to have to control the in/out of the usage?
I don't really care as long as the system works and we have someone to do the handling properly.