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Special Attention: Onboard Spas


10 May 2011


Onboard spas are now de rigueur, cruise brochures are full of 'wellness centres' and 'unique spa experiences'. It seems cruise lines all over the world are trying to outdo each other to offer the most complete, customer-tailored spa facilities. World Cruise Industry Review picks some of the best that are on offer.


Later in 2011 Celebrity Cruises will launch its Aqua Spa, a two-storey fitness and well-being centre that is a central part of the Celebrity Solstice experience. There will be a solarium indoor pool with waterfalls and dancing water fountains. Guests will be able to relax with sea views of the Relaxation Room or the spa's Persian Garden that has warm marble loungers to recline on. Next to the spa sit 130 AquaClass staterooms, which offer unlimited access to the spa facilities.

Celebrity Cruises is the latest cruise operator to transform the onboard experience with innovative spa facilities, and Holland America already offers an impressive array of pampering massages from Hawaiian Lomi Lomi to Chinese Tui Na.

"Queen Elizabeth's spa offers a comprehensive health and wellness programme, a hydrotherapy pool and thermal suite, and a royal bath house."

Spa-ing partners

Cunard has continued its tradition of providing luxury spa treatments at sea with Queen Elizabeth's Royal Spa. The 13,000-square-foot modern spa space features striking decor in line with the art deco style of the new Cunarder. There are two levels to house treatment rooms, as well as fitness and pool facilities. As with its sister ships, Queen Elizabeth's spa offers a comprehensive health and wellness programme with a spectacular hydrotherapy pool and thermal suite, and the new addition of the royal bath house. This covered space is a social relaxation area that includes both the thermal suite and hydrotherapy pool, all adjacent to the main outdoor pool on Deck 9.

Beyond the aquatics area of the spa, guests can rejuvenate and revitalise with treatments provided by high-end partners. Queen Elizabeth's spa will be the first at sea to offer the Remede service, which includes customised facials and massages, as well as Remede and Elemis spa products.

Mind and body rejuvenation

MSC Cruises has a busy few years ahead with the launch of Favolosa in February 2012, with Divina following in June of that year.

"Pampered by expert masseuses, guests are transported to another world with an extensive choice of treatments."

"Pampered by expert masseuses, guests are transported to another world with an extensive choice of treatments, from Thalassotherapy scrubs to hot lava stone treatments, detox treatments and Balinese, Shiatsu and Thai massages – all with the power to reinvigorate and rebalance body and mind," says MSC Cruises' Barbara Muckermann of the operator's Balinese-themed Aurea Spa.

The Aurea Spa features a thermal suite with two saunas, two Turkish baths and three whirlpools, a manicure and pedicure cabin, and a hair salon. In the gymnasium guests can choose from treadmills, upright and recumbent exercise bikes, steppers and advanced aerobic exercises for full-body workouts.

"Professional instructors are available to help guests make the most of these facilities, with a personal trainer, passive gymnastics instructor and even a yoga master," says Muckermann.

"They can develop a programme that cares for mind and body, dovetailing perfectly with the massage, wellness and beauty treatments that really set MSC Aurea Spa apart from its competitors."

MSC Cruises focused on Balinese massage because it is one of the most famous traditional Indonesian massages.

"It is unique because it uses a combination of techniques; it mixes massage, acupressure, reflexology and aromatherapy into one session – you can't have a massage better than that," says Muckermann. "In Bali, we have a special academy that recruits and trains our masseuses, as well as some of our housekeeping personnel."

NCL has the largest spa at sea. Onboard the new Norwegian Epic there is a 31,000-square-foot spa with 24 treatment rooms, Rasul rooms in which guests can cover themselves in mud treatments, a hydrotherapy courtyard and a thermal suite. There are 39 spa cabins, which include access to the hydrotherapy area and thermal rooms, while eight suites have their own in-room whirlpools.

Luxury spas as standard

June 2010 saw the launch of Seabourn Sojourn. The Spa at Seabourn on Sojourn offers several new and exciting healthy spa experiences, as well as some of the most luxurious pampering services at sea. An innovative amenity on the cruise ship is the Kneipp Walk, which provides holistic water therapy treatment and healing remedies designed to enhance circulation.

"Sojourn's Kneipp Walk provides holistic water therapy treatment and healing remedies to enhance circulation."

Other new amenities include the 11,400-square-foot spa with cocooning recliners, a herbal bath facility and an aroma steam bath with salt inhalation. The two-deck spa also features an outdoor, cabana-style relaxation area furnished with lounge chairs and sofas in warm and soothing tones, where guests can enjoy the peaceful environment and fresh breezes from the open sea. The spa has six treatment rooms and a SpaVilla, which are available for guests to book along with their treatments. The villa boasts a treatment area large enough for duet treatments, complete with shower; a bathtub big enough for two; a private balcony for sunbathing; a full living room area; a double daybed for relaxing and even a dining area where healthy snacks can be enjoyed.

Onboard P&O's newest ship Azura, there is an impressive open-air spa terrace named the Retreat, where a full range of spa treatments are offered under spacious, shady cabanas, complete with personal waiter service and dramatic ocean views. Azura's Oasis Spa offers an unusual array of treatments from oxygen rejuvenating facials to deep-cleansing detoxification. The spa also boasts its own dedicated team of reflexologists and therapists; there is even an onboard dentist.

For highly tailored treatment Windstar provides guests with their own Spa Concierge. Guests can enjoy treatments onboard the recently added Spa Suites on the yacht Wind Surf.

Only a decade ago guests would have struggled to get onboard spa treatments. Today the offerings are as good as any found on land, and are an integral part of the cruise experience.