The Edge-class cabins will have hair dryers in the bathroom.
What’s the big deal, you ask? Isn’t just about every hotel room in the civilized world so-equipped?
Exactly the point.
I’m not 100% positive that Edge is the first with this cutting, er, edge equipment, but I can say that to the best of my memory, none of the ocean ships I’ve been on recently have had them.
Instead, there’s usually a dryer in the drawer of a bureau, or in a cloth bag sitting on a cabinet shelf, for use in the cabin itself. A few older ships have low-powered dryers fastened to the wall.
I don’t know exactly why wiring cruise cabins for hair dryers has been such a difficult challenge. I do know that the problem goes back a long time.
Vicki Freed, senior vice president of sales, trade support and services at Royal Caribbean International, once looked back on how the industry has changed and recalled that when she worked at Carnival Cruise Line in the 1970s, she couldn’t plug in a hair dryer in any outlet in her cabin.
Carnival solved the problem by designating a cabin on each deck as a blow-dry suite and wiring it specially so that the appliances wouldn’t blow all of the circuit breakers that they normally would have.
Cruise lines eventually figured out how to wire the cabin for portable hair dryers, but not the bathrooms.
Most of the appliances that are going to be plugged into a cruise ship cabin outlet don’t draw as much wattage as a hair dryer, which can pull as much as 2,500 watts. That’s more than a coffee maker or a toaster (not that they’re allowed) and way more than a laptop computer, which only draws about 100 watts.
That much power consumption can use up a lot of the capacity of a typical household electrical circuit.
Most cruise ship bathrooms don’t have any outlets at all, except for one that is limited to electric shavers, which consume about 20 watts. Lighting is about the only electrical application in the bath.
That has left cruise passengers perched on an upholstered stool, their knees shoved into a little cubby space beneath the desk, in a posture that may or may not be comfortable, at the mirror above the desk in their cabin trying to dry their hair before a gala night out at some specialty restaurant.
So three cheers for the bright engineer at Celebrity or STX France that has figured out the age-old hair dryer in the bathroom problem. That’s progress we can all believe in.