Elevators vs. Stairs: Where Do You Stand?

November 29, 2011 | By | 55 Comments

During our roving reporter’s recent live coverage aboard Voyager of the Seas, she put the ages-old elevator-versus-stairs debate to the test by conducting some research of her own. The face-off prompted nearly 70 Facebook comments, many proving that cruisers are a more athletic bunch than you might expect. And we took it a step further with a daily poll.
Says Donata on Facebook: “We always take the stairs…. Good to get a bit of exercise and we are way too impatient for those friggin elevators.” Sunkissed Adventures agrees: “Hubby and I always take the stairs. Avoid the crowds and we get to skip the gym.”
Still, there are those who jokingly (or not-so-jokingly) defend the merits of elevators.
“How will you know what day it is if you don’t use the elevator?” quips Brad, referencing the fact that many cruise ships display the date and time in their elevators. Mike adds, “Elevators are good for conversation and energy conservation! They can be a good departure from a big day at sea!”
And, of course, there are others who need to use the lifts for more practical and necessary reasons.
“I’m a paraplegic and don’t have a choice but to use the elevators — when they aren’t full of people, some of whom would benefit from taking the stairs :),” says Ron. “Last few cruises has been mostly elevators b/c my daughter was usually in her stroller — but stairs are definitely the way to get where you want to be quickly,” chimes in Pamela.
So, yes, both elevators and stairs have their ups and downs. We then adapted the conundrum into a Cruise Critic Daily Poll (and subsequent Poll Position), which indicated that nearly half — 49 percent — of voters do a mix of both.
Beth from Facebook says, “Both, depends on where I’m going and what I’m wearing. No heels on more than 2 flights.” Dan shares Beth’s sentiments: “General rule for us: Stairs if two levels up or any number down, unless it’s formal night or when Rum is involved.”
Finally, Jonathan, also from Facebook, says, “Mostly stairs unless I’m coming back from a beach excursion with sand in my suit and my cabin is on deck 10, then it’s elevator — no matter how long it takes!”
Overall, it seems like a well-rounded mixture is the way to go. Stairs are great for keeping in shape while sailing, but it is vacation, after all. What are your thoughts? Be sure to weigh in with your comments below.
See what else our onboard reporter had to say here.
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    55 Responses to “Elevators vs. Stairs: Where Do You Stand?”

    1. Scott Lara
      November 29th, 2011 @ 1:04 pm

      I prefer to take the stairs on cruises because it counters my excessive eating!

      Scott Lara
      Jacksonville, Florida

    2. Denise
      November 29th, 2011 @ 7:00 pm

      I just returned from a cruise where I had to take elevators because I had a broken foot and had to use a knee-walker. It was awful! I’ll be glad to return to stairs on our next cruise in January.

    3. Donna Hurd
      November 29th, 2011 @ 7:01 pm

      Yup, that’s our rule. Stairs, then you can eat dessert!

    4. Barb
      November 29th, 2011 @ 7:10 pm

      I do elevators because in the last 30 cruises ive done stairs till the last 2 yrs when i tore my calf muscles walking up the stairs on a moving cruise ship…I ended up with Compartment Syndrome and had surgery…For all those people who dont usually work out…Its dangerous to be using muscles like that if you do not work out and stretch those muscles…Its a challenge to a calf muscle…I love walking and i am young and iam not heavy but no more challenging my calf muscle.

    5. Judy
      November 29th, 2011 @ 10:09 pm

      I take the stairs going down all the time. I will take the stairs going up if its not too many flights because I have bad knees. I would prefer to take the stairs all the time, though. I’ll take the elevator when I am carrying my luggage and when I am wearing heels.

    6. Linda
      November 30th, 2011 @ 6:53 am

      Definitely take the stairs! Increase in eating warrants increase in exercise and every little bit helps! We took the stairs all the time on our 15 day cruise. Was it easy.
      ….No. But it was worth it!

    7. Gayle
      November 30th, 2011 @ 7:16 am

      We always try to take the stairs whenever we cruise. I would rather walk than stand waiting for an elevator.

    8. Karen
      November 30th, 2011 @ 10:27 am

      Just finished our first cruise. The only times we used the elevators was if we were carting luggage and after returning from lots of walking around a port — walking up 8 flights was a bit too much of a challenge after that. :-) The upside was that my husband and I didn’t gain any weight. Though we did our best to eat sensibly, we did consume far more than we do at home, and did indulge in dessert at dinner. My husband hit the fitness center, but my exercise was limited to the stairs and a mile lap around the top deck every day.

    9. sharon
      November 30th, 2011 @ 11:40 am

      When my husband & I went on our cruise on the Norweigan Dawn, we usually took the stairs. The only time we took the elevator, was when we first boarded the ship & went to our stateroom for the 1st time to get our bearings.

    10. Kris
      November 30th, 2011 @ 12:30 pm

      Although we don’t “look” like we need elevators, we both do…..please dont be quick to judge others ‘abilities’ based on age or appearance! I have a heart condition and spianl stenosis..neither is “visible”, and my husband has had a knee and a hip replaced, as well as spinal issues. We would like to be able to do stairs but we ca’t and we are just grateful we are still able to travel.

    11. Nancy Stultz
      November 30th, 2011 @ 1:34 pm

      I agree with everyone here. My husband and I just returned from 14 days on the Jewel of the Seas. Our stateroom was on deck 8, which quite frankly is between everything. I do have osteo in both knees, but try and go down stairs more than up. It all hurts, but then I get bored waiting for the elevator. One or two decks I can tough it out, but if the elevator is there and not full (hey, I’m not an idiot). I do not understand the kids riding up one floor…kids – run up the stairs like you do at home and get some exercise. Ok, nuff said.

    12. gymnastss
      November 30th, 2011 @ 11:40 pm

      My wife and I prefer the stairs. It helps us work off the calories after a meal. I use the stairs 90% of the time and my wife uses it about 60% of the time. It helps to cut down on the weight gain.

    13. Vicki
      December 7th, 2011 @ 12:26 pm

      On a Carnival Dream cruise, I was in the middle of the crowd in the elevator when one passenger went orbital because she is claustrophobic. She was with her husband, had her head buried in his back, but when car stopped – she looked up, saw the crowd outside that wanted in, and she just lost it!!!! I left wondering why this couple who “seemed” able bodied didn’t use the stairs? What a terrifying situation an elevator would be for a person w/ claustrophobia.

    14. Becky Larson
      December 7th, 2011 @ 12:29 pm

      I think that people who complain about those that take the elevator up one deck should stop to realize that not all handicaps and disabilities are visible. I have lung disease and am in my mid 40s. I look fine to the average person, but one deck of stairs can cause a horrible breathing situation that would send me to the infirmary. Just because you can’t see a disability or handicap doesn’t mean the person is being lazy.
      Sick and can’t see it!

    15. Irving M. Terzich
      December 7th, 2011 @ 1:26 pm

      My wife and I are both senior, seniors, so we use elevators as a necessity. We do travel with Princess, but generally we do not run into rude travelers. Having been brought up to treat people politly, especially women, I hold elevator doors open so ladies may enter first, step to the back of the elevator if we are the early one on. When not on a cruise, I take my hat off when women are on the elevator. I know, this is not normal these days, but it makes my wife and me feel good too.


    16. BJC
      December 7th, 2011 @ 1:58 pm

      I have had both knees replaced and am “full figured”. I overhear the should be taking the stairs comments frequently – once when I was using my walker. My replacement was not successful so can’t do the stairs. Still hurtful to have to listen to the comments – some from young adults that should know better.

    17. Sharon
      December 7th, 2011 @ 2:04 pm

      I am not obese and I am in my 40s. I try to take the stairs for up to 3 flights, but by the 3rd day I can no longer go more than one or 2 at once without getting out of breath and having severe pain in my quads. Some of us look fine but we aren’t so don’t judge.

    18. LOU
      December 7th, 2011 @ 2:12 pm

      My husband and I wish we could take the stairs but he is in a wheelchair after a stroke so stairs are no choice. We have encountered wonderful caring and polite people who let him get on the elevator. We have also suffered through very long waits (several elevators opening and closing)while people push around to get on ahead of us. We try to be polite and not intrusive and are just thankful to be able to travel and enjoy what cruising offers us.

    19. CJ
      December 7th, 2011 @ 2:20 pm

      My first cruise was on an old ship with tiny cramped slow elevators. Passengers were asked to reserve elevator use for those who “needed” them but no one policed it. Since it was faster to take the stairs, most of us did.

      My husband (who did not go on the cruise) was in a wheelchair. I asked one of the staff at the lifeboat drill how a wheelchair-bound person could get off the ship in case we had to abandon ship, due to the elevators being so cramped and slow. She said, “No worries. He’d float up!”


    20. Roberto Prinselaar
      December 7th, 2011 @ 2:33 pm

      We prefer to use the stairs to help keep our weight down due to the exercise, however we can’t because my wife’s doctor advised her to use elevators instead because of her back problems. Sorry folks, my wife comes first so until she’s advised otherwise we’ll be using the elevators

    21. Kim
      December 7th, 2011 @ 3:34 pm

      Stairs…even on formal nights…you can always take off the heels until you get to the dining room!!!!

    22. Gamlagal
      December 7th, 2011 @ 3:39 pm

      If you are able to walk up and down the stairs, do it and stop dissing those who use the elevators. Many look fit but have physical problems and cannot. I always used the stairs for 2 flights up and many down. Can’t do it on a pending cruise due to do a fall and compressed vertebrae surgery. I look younger but at 82 the body is wearing out. All too soon you will be aged also; in the meantime, MYOB. The older generation is more polite on elevators…the younger geneeration lacks respect, pushing their way on not letting others off. Princess bank of elevators are the worst; Too far apart and the one furthest away opens, not the one you pushed button for. A new ship with the same stupid elevator setup. RCCL has the best elevators aft, mid and forward.

    23. Pamela
      December 7th, 2011 @ 3:44 pm

      Stairs all the way. I really enjoy the exercise and the stairs are almost always empty.

    24. Kathie
      December 7th, 2011 @ 3:51 pm

      I usuallt take the stairs, but I fell while doing my 2 mile walk and after that limited my stairs to just 2-3 floors, because of pain. It didn’t look like I was hurt, but even after 2 months it still hurts some. So don’t judge by looks. However, on elevators, I ALWAYS let getting off folks out to make room. If it is packed, I wait for the next one. It IS a vacation after all, what is the great rush?

    25. Gordon Macklin
      December 7th, 2011 @ 3:57 pm

      I agree with all those who posted regarding disabilities that aren’t obvious. I myself would love to use the stairs more often, but am unable due to health issues. I walk with a cane, so I normally am not subjected to rude comments about using the elevator for one or two flights, however I have had people try to get on an elevator ahead of me coming back from tendered shore trips, even though it’s obvious I was waiting for the elevator before they got there. I’ve come to the conclusion that ill mannered people are a part of cruising and ignore them as much as possible.

    26. Richard & MaryClaire
      December 7th, 2011 @ 4:01 pm

      As long as we are able we will take the stairs; there are those who truly need them and we enjoy the exercise.

    27. marcia and bob
      December 7th, 2011 @ 4:33 pm

      We always take stairs unless my knee is causing me pain or discomfort. We have been known to walk up 7 flights. We usually walk downstairs, no matter the number of flights.

    28. Arleen
      December 7th, 2011 @ 4:37 pm


    29. Carla Infante
      December 7th, 2011 @ 4:53 pm

      I too have a handicap card but you can’t see my chronic pain. Sometimes taking the elevator 1 floor is a must.

    30. Regina
      December 7th, 2011 @ 4:54 pm

      I think elevators on cruise ships should be categorized as ALWAYS GOING UP and ALWAYS GOING DOWN.
      One side of the elevator bank should always go up (and when it reaches the top, go straight down to the bottom and start up again) and visa versa for the other side (always go down). This might even out the crowd and cut down on the rudeness I’ve experienced on the many cruises I’ve been on.

    31. barbara
      December 7th, 2011 @ 4:59 pm

      We cruise several times a year and I can’t remember the last time I took the elevator (even on formal night). I see cruisers 10 to 20 years younger than me (plus kids) on the elevators.

    32. jeff
      December 7th, 2011 @ 5:50 pm

      we found the elevator etiquette to be deplorable my wife is in a mobility scooter and everyone swarmed the elevator and she was out of luck unless she was lucky and was right in front of the arriving elevator, we stayed a lot in our room. our first and last cruise!!

    33. Faith
      December 7th, 2011 @ 6:13 pm

      I prefer the stairs as being trapped with a woman who seeming bathed in her perfume makes me stop breathing.Allergic asthmatic reaction.
      Cruise last month I used stairs if going 3-4 floors. On the 5 day my caves were very painful. Muscles not used to climbing. Found it hard to walk after 45 min.hike in Belize.
      Had to use elevator last 2 days. I’m a 65 yr old woman.

    34. Monica
      December 7th, 2011 @ 6:37 pm

      ALL STAIRS HERE! Absolutely! They are so easy for anyone who can navigate stairs – we’ve been known to do an up/down-down/up as our workout before breakfast!

    35. susanne
      December 7th, 2011 @ 6:47 pm

      Stairs if it’s less than 5 flights up (more if it’s the warm-up on the way to gym!), and always down unless I’m in very high heels or carrying a very full tray from the buffet to my balcony cabin :).

    36. Catladyesq
      December 7th, 2011 @ 7:00 pm

      Don’t get me started on lack of elevator etiquette. You think people are rude to able-bodied passengers attempting to use the elevator – try getting on AND off the elevator when your hubby uses a mobility scooter. I have seen people run ahead of him as he begins to “move” forward into the elevator car;and it we are in a car crowding becomes quite obvious very quickly — some folks will try to squeeze on even when it is obvious there isn’t room to navigate your scooter once in the “car”. Nuff said.

    37. Bernice
      December 7th, 2011 @ 7:43 pm

      My husband and I use the elevator because he was in an auto accident/four surgeries/pins in foot/fused boned together. If there is room in the elevator, I ride with him. If not, I will take the stairs. People do give him looks for going one floor, but he can’t stand or walk fir a long time. Also, my mother has a scooter and travels with us often. People will jump in front of her to get on an elevator. They walk in front of her when she is scooting around the ship. It’s not like you can’t see her coming. Watch someone on a scooter or wheel chair on a ship to see what people will actually do. It’s a shock. I always help people like this out because I know what it’s like

    38. Frank
      December 7th, 2011 @ 8:27 pm

      With all the relaxing, lounging and sleeping that is done on a ship, isn’t it just plain sense to use the stairs as an excuse to get SOME exercise? And, if you can climb them, it’s sometimes, more often than not, just as fast if not faster. And there is virtually no traffic on the stairs.

    39. turbs
      December 7th, 2011 @ 8:34 pm

      The thing about bad manners is that it will never improve,It never ceases to amaze me whether on a ship or in an office block,people are just in to much hurry to get from A to B
      it does not take an Einstein to realise if you have the courtesy to let folk out of a lift first, the sooner every one gets to their destination,the worst example of a cruise ship lift System goes to the Pacific Sun, the stair case& lift to the centre Dinning room is found after going up one floor across and down a floor. the lift is probably the smallest you would find any where, the adjacent stairs are even worse @ peak times both are jammed pact,with guests stranded on the stairs which seemed to go on for hours, in all seriousness it is time it was pensioned off,where as the staff on all of the P&O ships are as good as you will get any where, for manners and the help they give to the Mentally handicapped and others with disabilities is terrific, I was getting off on one of the tenders @ the Isle of pines and the Staff were lifting the Mentally Physically Handicapped people off by carrying them gently as possible with these lovely people laughing as they were safety carried aboard and deposited back into the wheel chairs on reaching land , to see the smiles on their face, was wonderful,

    40. Franke
      December 7th, 2011 @ 8:42 pm

      We use the stairs ESPECIALLY when we debark with our luggage. Almost everyone else uses the elevator then and we have the stairs almost to ourselves. My wife watches the luggage on one deck while I move the luggage to the next deck. We do this until we are on the deck we need. It may sound like work but it goes very quickly compared to waiting in a line for an elevator. People laugh at us but it is all in fun. Some couples ( a few to be sure) even look at each other and then join in.
      Otherwise the only time we use the elevator is when we have had a rugged walk or hike on a shore excursion. By the way we are in our mid 50’s and are in just average condition. We sometimes even “race” each other up the steps but only if they are COMPLETELY clear of people. We laugh like teenagers when we do this. The day will come when the racing will end so we enjoy it while we can.

    41. Franke
      December 7th, 2011 @ 8:54 pm

      Oh, one more thing. I don’t care if the people taking the elevators are Olympic athletes. They are on vacation and they can do whatever they want. I am paying a couple of hundred dollars a day to be on vacation and I don’t want to waste my time worrying about what they do on theirs.

    42. Annegret
      December 7th, 2011 @ 9:55 pm

      We just got off our 10th Cruise on RCCL, 1st one on Mariner of the Seas. There were only 2 locations for elevators. My Husband has breathing Problems and I have a blood condition, but going down we generally took the stairs, going up only if it was 2 floors or less. It gave us much needed exercise and the Artwork in the Staircases was very interesting to look at as well. We are looking forward to our next Cruise in February back on the Mariner.

    43. Steve
      December 8th, 2011 @ 6:49 am

      Im 62, I take the stairs for up to 4 floors up, all stairs going down. Great calorie burning and saves time. I also keep to the right.

    44. graham
      December 8th, 2011 @ 8:45 am

      Just got back from transatlantic and on this ship it was just plane rude of the passengers while waiting for an elevator. My wife is on an electric scooter and passengers would push in front of her even if we were right at the doors they would jump in front to make sure they got on . Some times we waited for 7 elevators to go by full or with passengers pushing in, it was very agnoying now i tell her to keep her wheels right up to the door opening . When passengers see someone in a wheel chair or scooter why do they have to push in front. The ship was the Voyager.

    45. m.Cummings
      December 8th, 2011 @ 9:55 am

      We are using power scooters and people push infront of us when the elevator opens then stand in the middle so that we cannot enter. The rudness factor is unbeleivable especially when these are mostly older people who should know better!

    46. Dollhouse Duchess
      December 8th, 2011 @ 12:28 pm

      Maybe it’s because we always cruise on HAL, but we have seen very little of this rudeness, even though there are many scooters, chairs and walkers. I, personally, am glad to be walking again, and just excuse myself while reaching for a rail inside the elevator, saying “Sorry, I need the rail for balance”…which I hope clarifies my uneven gait and tendency to lose my balance when not holding on. I never heard a rude response. I took a few stairs down the last week of our cruise, and hopefully by next year I can take more. I felt good just getting from aft to forward and back on one deck by foot. I agree, we’re on vacation; everybody should relax and take their turn.

    47. Michael Lindenback
      December 8th, 2011 @ 1:23 pm

      We aren’t long time cruisers (4 in 3 years) and have only cruised on Princess. We usually take the stairs (in an attempt to avoid the pound a day weight gain). When we have taken the elevators we have honestly never encountered rude behaviour, in fact quite the opposite. People have usually been very pleasant, even when there have been longer waits for the elevators.

    48. Steve in Avon
      December 8th, 2011 @ 2:11 pm

      My wife (blind) and I almost always take the stairs to burn calories and up heart rates. Elevators do often have rude folks who crowd on or in front of those there before them. Especially awful at disembarkation with walk offs and their luggage. It is really the rudest time and we’ve watched people block those we saw in wheelchairs just to gain one place in line. Sad. Sad. Sad. One of our daughters had a kidney transplant. Before he did she had to use a scooter at Disneyworld. Because she didn’t look “handicapped” people stared or acted rudely at those in the wheelchair line getting on the busses first or special lines for them at the rides. She literally coudn’t walk two blocks because of dialysis and had to go to med office to do dialysis every day at Disney as well as at night in her room. Don’t judge the book without looking beyond the cover.

    49. nancy archuleta
      December 8th, 2011 @ 2:40 pm

      I have one of those “hidden” diseases. People give me the ugly look everytime I use the HC sticker abd HC parking. There is no way I can use the stairs. I often get the comment “but you look so good” when I have MS. THINK people!!

    50. PatJim
      December 9th, 2011 @ 1:04 am

      My husband is 69 and I’m a new Baby Boomer, just turned 65. We always take the stairs, except for disembarking on our own, with suitcases.
      Our cabins are usually on higher decks, 9 through 11, and Jim always goes down to the coffee bar when it opens each morning and brings me back a latte. And yes, he takes the stairs those 4-6 flights. Like other stair climbers who posted here, we come back from each cruise without having gained weight. It’s just a habit now and one anyone who is reasonably fit can do. You can ‘train’ at home before the cruise, so the effort isn’t such a shock to the body! The payoff is feeling pretty fit while on vacation.

    51. Mary D
      December 10th, 2011 @ 2:52 pm

      I agree you can’t always judge a person’s ability to use the stairs by their appearance. I certainly perfer to use the stairs when going up a few decks. I also agree that the lines need to install more elevators. Waits can be long at times.

    52. DJ Crocker
      December 10th, 2011 @ 7:34 pm

      My number one complaint of elevators is that folks just WILL NOT move to the back of the elevator to allow others to enter. Also, we just returned from a cruise on the Celebrity Eclipse & we’ve never been with such rude passengers-period. So many were,like us,over 65,& to our amazement very rude. And those on their carts would just about run over folks.In fact,one lady had her foot run over by someone who never stopped! It was a much older group that were traveling & all you heard were complaints. The poor crew-they did an excellent job of catering to many who really didn’t show any appreciation for life! We’ll think twice before we ever leave on a cruise out of Miami again.(Note- & for those of you who think we’re new cruisers, we’ve been on over 25.)

    53. Doris Hill
      December 14th, 2011 @ 12:02 pm

      Elevator up …. stairs down.

    54. Pete
      December 18th, 2011 @ 9:34 pm

      After reading all the comments here, it appears most folks prefer to use the stairs. I’ll go ahead and use the elevator to avoid the congestion on the stairways.

    55. Phil
      December 19th, 2011 @ 9:26 am

      Take the stairs if you’re physically able. You’ll get there faster and in a better mood than if you wait fifteen minutes for an elevator that actually has room for you.

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