Amen!! Just got off a 15 day cruise and only managed to get a chair on the pool deck one day. Lots of towels and books were having a great time though. Why don't the cruise lines enforce their "policies"? At 8am every chair already had a "saving device".
When you notice all the books enjoying the sun, try to let a pool attendant know about the problem, they should do something about it then. I think they just wait and see if enough people do complain, then that are apt to do something. Noticed that on Explorer last week, someone finally did complain and the pool attendant started taking towels off chairs, but that started another problem?? Guess some folks asked someone to watch over their chairs and when the attendant was clearing them off, made some other people mad, just can't win I guess.
It's usually quite easy - most cruise lines will have a sign somewhere on the deck that says that chairs can not be saved. When someone complains about you removing stuff, point them towards the sign. If they still complain - tell them to go see the purser or the Captain. As long as there is a sign, you are in the clear...
I read once that a poster would sit pool-side for a while and scope out what chairs had been saved. Then they would remove the towel or book and place it in the adjacent saved chair (they felt that savers travel in packs). The poster then dragged the chair to another location on the deck. That way, there was no confrontation when the saver returned.
I don't know if I could be that bold.
When I leave my chair in the "saved" mode it's only to run to the WC or grab some iced tea.
I noticed alot of this on our last cruise as well and was wondering how to combat it. One question though - what do you do if you are travelling in a group and you get to the pool deck ahead of your party - wait until everyone is there before grabbing a table and chairs or take a table and wait for your party? I saw people do both and was just curious. I found that if you scoped out long enough you could get a table and chairs just by watching - also if there are only towels and no personal items on the chairs then how do you know if the people are even there anymore???
I should have pointed out that most of the pax on my cruise were 70+ years, boy can old folks sit!! Not that I blame them for the sitting and relaxing, I hope to be that old too some day. But, they would save their chairs, go to breakfast, lounge, go to lunch, lounge, etc. Even sleeping for hours - don't they have cabins to nap in? I agree about saving your chair for a run to the potty or to get a drink, but all day? I did complain to the steward on the pool deck, who shrugged and didn't seem to want to get in the middle of the chair wars. Glad I had a balcony, spent lots of time there. I think the cruise lines should make this policy clear from the first day aboard. If towels started being picked up immediately, I think the "policy" would then be evident.
I ran into the "saving of chairs" problem on a Bermuda cruise last year. Here is how I handled the problem.
Since I have fair skin, I cannot sit in the sun all day on the deck. I proceeded to look for a deck chair in the shade and I noticed two older men sitting on chaises with approximately 15 chairs down from them completely empty with the exception of a few that had only a towel on them. I proceeded to sit in the middle of these unused chaises and the one man screamed at me that that chaise was saved. I got up and moved to another one where he proceeded to scream the same thing. I sat down unnerved and told him that if they were saved where were the people they were saved for since they had been vacant for quite awhile. I told him if his people came I would get up since I can't sit in the sun all day. He then said I had quite a nerve. I mustered up my courage since he really had got to me with the yelling and all and I told him that there is no policy of saving chairs and if he didn't like it he could get someone of authority to tell me to move. No one came. This same man and his party incidently went up to the midnight buffet (about 30 people with him and about 45 minutes after it started) one night where entertainment was provided on deck. I saw him inform the head person there were no chairs and he complained until she had the deck persons go somewhere else to find him chairs. It takes all kinds. I guess some people feel that they pay their money and that entitles them to be rude and to treat people like crap. There was no way I was going to let him speak to me that way.