PHOTO: Could the Havana Pool on Carnival Vista hold a solution to the adult-only pool debate? (photo by Mark Leppert)
Following Carnival Cruise Line’s recent decision to open some of its formerly adult-only pools up to families, a new debate has ensued over how much exclusivity should be granted to certain demographics onboard.
In many ways, Cruise lines have been trying to find the right balance for years.
Determining how much space should be allocated to common areas open to everyone onboard versus dedicated venues just for adults or children is a tricky formula, and sacrifices always have to be made in order to make either happen.
Disney Cruise Line, for instance, is known for its wonderful family-friendly programming and has some of the largest kids clubs at sea. However, in order to make it happen, its fleet of ships forego having any sort of onboard casino, allocating that traditional space to kids instead.
Of course, Disney balances that out with its own adult-only areas, including its own exclusive pools up on deck.
Disney's balance works well because the exclusivity varies a little bit: There are occasional open-house hours during the day in which anyone, adults included, can check out the kids' spaces. During the day and early evening hours, the adult nightclub is often used for family activities, shows or simply staging shore excursion departures. (All the while, the adults-only deck area is always only for adults.)
READ MORE: An Adult Appreciation for the Disney Cruise Line
In Carnival’s case, taking away a previously adult-exclusive pool is a more significant change of format.
Its Conquest, Glory, Valor, Liberty and Freedom Conquest-class ships, as well as Splendor and Victory aft pools are now available to adults and children. While it’s true that all of these ships have or will soon have Serenity adults-only areas, there’s something especially nice about having a pool just for adults beyond a deck and at most a couple of whirlpools.
That’s what I loved about the Carnival Miracle since its Serenity deck is situated right at the aft pool, thus including the water feature.
READ MORE: Cruisers Split on Carnival Pool Change
What it ultimately comes down to is the real estate mantra of “location, location, location.” The aft pool is a prized spot on the ship, and nearly everybody wants to be there. Still, I wonder if Carnival doesn't already have a solution in place that it could borrow from its latest Carnival Vista.
On that ship, the Havana Bar & Pool is available only to those guests in Havana accommodations during the day, but at night it is opened up to everyone.
It’s essentially a timeshare version of the ship-within-a-ship concept.
So, might the happy medium be offering certain times during the day where the Conquest-class, Splendor and Victory aft pools are available to all guests versus other times where it is limited to adults only? It might be a compromise for the existing fleet, and maybe Carnival can consider adding a pool to its purpose-built Serenity decks in the future as well.
In fact, that was probably the one thing that was missing from the deck on the Vista and would have been a nice addition.
The biggest challenge to any of this, of course, would be enforcement. As great as it is that Disney offers times when kids can be in the adults' areas, the line could do better at asking children out when they are not allowed. I have seen several instances of those underaged being present in the adult cafe during the day or entertainment venues into the evenings when they shouldn't be.
So, perhaps an all-or-nothing approach issued entirely throughout the day and night is easier for guests to fully understand and adhere to. Truth is, it’s not an easy answer.