Carnival Cruise Line is well known for its casual brand of fun, with a wide variety of games and activities that encourage passengers to simply let loose and enjoy their cruise vacations.
One iconic game that has been a poolside mainstay for years, however, will not be played anymore – the Hairy Chest Contest has been retired.
Hairy Chest Contest Ends
The Hairy Chest Contest was a popular poolside game typically held mid-ship on the Lido Deck, often on a sea day when the deck would be crowded with onlookers and potential participants.
When cruising restarted in July 2021 after the industry-wide shutdown, the Hairy Chest Contest did not resume, and at first it was thought to be due to safety concerns.
Because the contest involves some close contact between participating guests – both the “hairiest chest” contenders as well as the game’s judges – it was likely removed from daily activities to better promote social distancing.
Carnival Cruise Line has now confirmed, however, that the event will not be returning, and that its retirement is “to provide a more family-friendly pool atmosphere,” according to the cruise line, which responded to Cruise Hive.
It is true that the Hairy Chest Contest could get rowdy, even raunchy, depending on the participants joining in. Not only were contestants judged based on their natural hairiness, but different rounds of the competition often included Tarzan-like yells to “Jane” to prove manliness, as well as showing off dance moves that could be provocative and inappropriate for younger guests.
The exact rounds of competition and how they were encouraged often depended on the individual cruise director or Fun Squad member directing the competition. Crowd approval often escalated for more risqué performances, encouraging even more potentially offensive behavior.
During the pandemic shutdown, Carnival Cruise Line may have been testing the popularity of the Hairy Chest Contest with loyal cruisers.
In September 2020, brand ambassador John Heald asked about the Hairy Chest Contest on his Facebook page, specifically: “Do you still think the Hairy Chest Contest has a part to play in our fun times on board?”
By sheer polling as indicated by emojis (a popular way to gauge reactions on social media), 82% of respondents favored keeping the event, while just 18% agreed that it should be ended.
Sentiment in the comments at the time indicated that a lot of people agree the contest can get inappropriate, even vulgar. If other people enjoy it, however, many people commented that it should be kept, and no one is forced to participate or watch the game.
Many people also shared fond memories of the game, such as beloved relatives who have since passed having won or participated, or else it being a great time to get involved in a silly and memorable way.
In lieu of the Hairy Chest Contest, Carnival Cruise Line is likely to try out a variety of more family-friendly activities. “Our cruise directors and Fun Squads have new and existing lido activities to offer,” the spokesperson confirmed. The new lido activities include:
- Red’s Challenge: Red’s Challenge is a RedFrog Bar-themed Lido event, in which four teams compete amongst each other.
- Guess That Groove: A team competition game that combines music from all genres and decades into an interactive party.
- Pool and Deck Games: There are multiple pool games, including S-pool-ing Bee, Dolphone Race, Alphabet Soup, Synchronized Swimming, and Perfect Partners.
Other poolside activities already in place on Carnival cruise ships include ice carving demonstrations, towel animal invasions showcasing dozens of creations, and the cruise line’s charitable fundraiser, Groove for St. Jude, an afternoon deck party that raises money for the line’s long-term partner, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
It is likely that a number of different activities will be tested on different ships, with cruise directors sharing their experiences about which options are most popular. This could bring even more variety to the Lido deck aboard Carnival’s ships, with even more fun activities all passengers can enjoy.