Not helping the issue: cruise lines are sailing full and, as they build new ships, trying to squeeze on even more passengers. Carnival said response to the program so far has been "overwhelmingly positive." The cruise line will decide whether to implement the rule fleet-wide in the coming weeks.
On the Norwegian Star, a "dot" system is used to track how long a person has been away from their chair. Though the dots are only used to track how long a person has been away from their chair on the Star, the line asks fleet-wide that passengers be away from their chairs no more than 45 minutes.
"We will be evaluating if this will become a fleet-wide policy in the coming weeks," said AnneMarie Mathews, a Norwegian Cruise Line spokeswoman.
At least one hotel not only monitors for unoccupied "saved" seats, but also has a waiting-list system. The Water Club at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City places guests on a wait list once all the chairs have been occupied, takes the cell phone number of the party and calls when seats are available. If a chair has been unoccupied for 30 minutes, the hotel removes the items and offers the seat to the next person on the list.
"We experience high demand especially over the weekends or holidays. We implemented the system to provide a better experience for our guests. This allows guests who are waiting for chairs to occupy their time elsewhere on property (lunch in The Sunroom, wine tasting at Vintage, gaming action on the casino floor, etc), while waiting with the confidence that they will be contacted when seats are available," Mark Vanderwielen, senior vice president of hospitality for Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, said in an email.
And with just a few precious weeks of vacation per year, perhaps it's no surprise people, and now hotels and cruise lines, are taking pool time very seriously.
"People get really unhinged," said Brown. "They're paying for vacation, others are abusing system and it's not fair to anyone."