According to CEO Adam Goldstein in his latest 'Ask Adam' blog, RCI is reviewing their process for pool towels and if any changes are decided they will announce them by the end of this year.
The current policy is you have to go to a towel station and check out towels using your Sea Pass card, and then check them back in with the same Sea Pass. Towels not returned by the end of the cruise will cause a $25 per towel fee to be charged. While I personally have no problem with it, it is not particularly popular.
From a bottom line perspective it does seem to be personnel intensive, with pool attendants required to man the stations.
I don't think anyone would notice if they just used cheaper towels and stopped obsessing about people stealing them. This whole thing has bean-counter written all over it. Celebrity doesn't do it that way and they don't seem to be worried about it.
I think one of the reasons they started this was to stop the chair hogs from placing towels on their chairs all day to save spots around the pool. Good intentions but not the results they hoped for as it still continues.We like to take early walks and it always amazes me at 8 am how many people have saved spots by the pool,especially on sea days.
I have to admit I have just plain given up on going to the Pool on Sea days. I just hate being on vacation and just getting upset that I can't even find a spot at 9:30 in the morning. I was in the hot tub and had only been in it for about 10 min when someone right in front of me was taking my chair and dragging it away so she could put hers in the sun. I hate to have to yell, "stop it that is my chair your dragging and sticking it anywhere" it really is so darn rude. Sad, but I have given up and wait for a Port day so they all get the heck off and leave me to a peaceful day by the pool.
I don't know why it happened but on the Oasis last month it was not that hard to find chairs near the pool in the center of the ship next to the 'beach' pool, even on sea days. However the pools themselves were packed and I just don't do the packed pool thing. I only use them on the port days.
Another thing that annoys me are the people and kids who decide they are going to hang out on or in front of the pool ladders, and thus block them for people trying to use them.
That is an interesting point about the beach pool, Dave...that is also what I noticed on the Allure. We didn't have too much trouble finding chairs near the beach pool and if we waited for a while, we usually could upgrade to a better location as people left.
On the last sea day, I actually went down at 8:00 am and parked myself in a chair right next to the pool, then recruited two of my daughters to alternated sitting in the one next to mine. Then, as the day went on, between my group of 6, we always had a couple of nice seats to sit in. I met a few great people there those last few days and actually had some stimulating conversation.
You would think they would enforce the 30 minute rule. Perhaps then people would think twice about putting their towel on a chair early in the morning just to save a chair while they do everything except use the pool area until they're good and ready. One time I noticed two chairs being reserved with towels and a book. I timed it for another 45 minutes and then told a pool attendant about it. He took the towels and books off the chairs. About 10 minutes later an elder couple returned to their chairs only to find another person sitting in them. I felt a bit bad about it, but rules apply to all. I told them the pool attendant took their stuff because they were gone over an hour. Maybe more people should do what I did. Reserving lounge chairs is a pet peeve of mine too.
Several years ago, I lucked out in finding a deck chair on an upper deck. There were a few empty seats around it at the time. A few minutes after I sat down to read my book, a woman came along with towels, blankets, books, flip-flops, and some other everyday objects that she intended to use as seat-saving devices. She sat in one of them for about a chapter (I lose all track of time when I'm reading on deck), then announced she was going to wake up her family and asked if I could hold her seats.
Now, not only is she doing something that isn't fair to other passengers, this was putting me in a difficult position. So, I asked her how long she was going to be and, while I don't remember the exact amount of time, it was something like a couple of hours. I flat-out told her no -- for one thing, I wasn't sure if I'd be there that long -- I didn't mention how uncomfortable it would have made me. Thankfully, she was nice about it. The last thing I wanted was a confrontation. But, I don't even save seats for my own family. Why do it for a total stranger and a dozen of her friends?
People will try to save seats whether towels are free or not. They'll just find something else. Oddly, and thankfully, this seldom happens on the promenade deck.