One of the hazards of eating lunch at your desk is opening stomach-curdling e-mails like this one: “I am a long-time cruiser,” writes Ilene Karp, “with over 40+ years of cruising and, until recently, kids in hot tubs were not an issue. It has, however, become way out of control. I have seen parents put infants in the hot tubs and I said to one that all she needed were some carrots and potatoes because she was literally cooking her child from the inside.”
Hastily shoving my microwaveable container of Dinty Moore beef stew aside, I read on. “Infants and kids under 14 should never be in a hot tub,” she adds, “because they are unable to regulate their body temperature. On our last trip on Celebrity Solstice, the main pool was emptied twice by stupid, inconsiderate parents who insisted on letting their brats in diapers in the pool — you can imagine the rest.”
Most of the “kids gone wild” complaints we read about at Sea-Mail International Headquarters fall squarely in the annoyance category. This one’s different. “Chair hogs and loud neighbors are a pain, no doubt,” Toni Vitanza writes. “But these folks are compromising the health of everyone onboard.”
Cruise lines are making an effort to post age restrictions on pool decks, create toddlers’ pools for diapered babies and designate some hot tubs as adults-only. Procedures are in place should the dreaded accident occur via draining the pool and giving it a serious sanitizing. This usually results in lengthy pool closures.
Are cruise lines going far enough?
Not according to Vitanza, who says that “at the very least I wish the lines would have a pop-up box on their websites so that before those with children under, say, age four, complete their booking they are clearly [informed of the rules]. Perhaps those pop-up boxes should even go so far as to let folks know that any violation which results in a pool or hot tub having to be drained and sanitized will also result in a charge to their sea pass.”
Good point, but wait a minute … Doesn’t the responsibility for obeying the rules belong to parents? In a forum post on the topic, member Pavteam weighs in with a pretty shocking anecdote from a cruise in which the cruise line’s signs clearly noted that 16 was the minimum age. “I heard a parent tell her 10 year old that if someone asked — she was 16!”
I find that shocking, but no less an aberration than parents who simply are clueless about pool and hot tub proprieties.
Most people belong in one of two camps when it comes to hot tubs: love ‘em or won’t go near ‘em. I’m in the former, and I’ve enjoyed many enjoyable evenings chilling in heated water. That said, there was one ghastly occurrence several years ago in which a child left an unwanted deposit behind when his parents dragged him into the tub my husband and I were using at the time. Let’s leave it at that.
Do I still venture into cruise ship hot tubs? I haven’t been able to summon the courage to dip in ever since. Maybe someday, I’ll try again — though I can promise to stick to adult-only hot tubs. Otherwise, it’s just not worth the risk.
Read other Sea-Mail columns on duty-free-shopping ripoffs, saving tables at the buffet, the death of cruise traditions and bad balcony behavior.
Ready to take the plunge into a hot tub? Get the rundown on the best sun decks at sea.
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