Friday, September 27, 2013

Deck Chairs

Where is everyone?
Deck chairs are one of the biggest problems on many cruise ships. Going to Alaska - not as much of a problem, but going south, passengers want to get out into the sun. To hell with the health warnings about the deadly “SUN”; by the time that February rolls around and you have shoveled several tons of snow, you want nothing more than to spend some time allowing your body to absorb some vitamin D. On some of the cruise ships, you have to get up early in the morning, take out your special “deck Chair Saving” equipment (A bag from another ship containing cheap flip-flops and a book) and put it on a good deck chair to save it for later when the sun comes out. If you do not do this the only deck chairs available are those with broken supports, and sitting in the shade. It is so bad on some ships that I have heard of fist fights ensuing when someone removed the material from an unoccupied chair and heaven forbid, actually used it. The problem has an inherent catch 22. If you do not reserve a chair, you cannot get one and because of this procedure, there are many chairs sitting unused for most of the say, just waiting for the time that the person wants to sit in the sun. During prime sunshine hours, the chairs are pretty much full, but other times most sit with cheap flip-flops and unread books gently simmering in the heat.

The ship crew do what they can to help alleviate the problem, by clearing chairs containing just a towel, and they cover as much surface area as possible with as many deck chairs as they can. It is difficult however to remove someone's bag, flip-flops and comfortably dog-eared book. Of course if they actually picked up the book and flip-flops they might notice that the day-glo pink of the unworn sandals does not really match the “Woodworking Tips for Retired Plumbers” published in 1956. Both items are “throw-aways” just in case someone is bold enough to remove them after they have sat there for four hours from 6:30 am to 10:30. Signs go up advising passengers that items will be removed from unoccupied chairs after 20 minutes, but I have yet to see any crew actually do this. Most ships have not figured out the fine line between annoying one person who reserved the chair or the 20 people searching for a chair.

Lots of chairs here
My favorite was once when I found a couple of chairs both unoccupied and in a nice quiet section of the deck. The only problem was that the good chairs were in the sun, and Regis wanted a chair in the shade, although I wanted to catch a few rays. I was able to move things around so we were comfortable with one in the shade and one on the sun, but I had to move a set of four chairs all with the usual assortment of “Chair Saving” items. Those chairs sat for two hours unused but occupied by someone's “things”. As the day progressed and the sun moved I had to move those four chairs a number of times to preserve our nice Sun/Shade combination. When the chairs “Owners” finally arrived their precious chairs were all in the shade, and I was occupying the sun such that it was really not easy for them to move them. They knew their chairs should have been in the sun, and they knew I had probably moved them, but I just sat there ignoring them through my “Gangsta” sunglasses (Regis hates these glasses, but they have their uses). They stood, fumed, looked around, stared at me with no result, discussed things among themselves, and finally picked up their “stuff” and moved on terribly annoyed that the system had failed them. Me, did I feel guilty? No, I just felt I was doing my part to free up some deck chairs, and someone came along a few minutes later and were overjoyed to find four nice shady unoccupied chairs.

Now on this Holland America ship, this is never a problem. The most popular deck chairs are the nice teak “Titanic” styled chairs down on deck three on the walk-around deck which is always in shade. There are always lots of chairs anywhere on the upper decks. If you want a chair in the sun, there are lots of them. The 80+ crowd is not as much into suntanning as the younger demographic is, and the tropical heat drives most of them into the AC equipped library or card room.

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