Cruise ship cabin design seems to follow the rule that the newer and more luxurious the ship, the more complicated the cabin electronics. I’ve battled with silly showers and crazy curtains, nonfunctioning telephones and “smart” interactive TV systems with messages welcoming another passenger entirely. But I’ve never been defeated by the lighting system. Until now.
Hapag Lloyd’s new ship, Europa 2, which was named Friday in Hamburg, is without doubt one of the most beautiful, elegant ships afloat. Even the lowest grade cabins are gorgeous, with huge balconies and generous sitting areas. And lots of lovely mood lighting. Lamps by the bed. Lamps in the bathroom and the separate loo. Ceiling spots. A desk light. Each one with an on-off switch and four individual settings of brightness. As you can imagine, the panels to control these illuminations are pretty overwhelming — and written in German.
Thinking nothing of it, I flopped into bed on my first night and tried to turn off the lights. They wouldn’t. I pressed every single switch on both sides of the bed, getting increasingly irritated, as different areas of the cabin lit up, dimmed and got brighter again. I jabbed at a light by the door (which, given the generous size of these cabins, is some distance away), and it lit up the “service” sign outside. So I tried another tack, switching on the tiny LED reading light above the bed, walking back to the door and pushing the “master” switch, thinking the LED light would stay on. No such luck. In a light-induced rage, I crashed around the cabin in pitch darkness for a bit and put the master back on.
All that saved me was a tiny flashlight I carry attached to my car keys, which I used to light my way back to the bed. Then, I had to repeat the process again — getting up and turning off the master at the door, all the time wanting to throttle whoever had thought up this ridiculous system.
At breakfast the next morning, the talk was all of the lights. Some people had slept with the lights on. Others had groped their way around in darkness. Only one of our gathering had thought to call reception, demanding that someone come up and turn off the damn lights, which they did.
We questioned the hotel manager about the lighting system and were told that when a guest is settled into their cabin by their steward, the tour of the lights takes 10 minutes. Ten minutes! When I am settling into a cabin after a long journey, the main thing on my mind is thanking the steward and closing the door, not having a masterclass in electronics.
(Incidentally, should you be sailing on Europa 2 and fail to pay attention to the cabin tour, simply press any light switch and hold for three seconds to turn off – something not one of our group thought to try).
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