Shipboard Spas Reach New Heights
There once was a time when shipboard fitness facilities meant tiny rooms stocked with a stationary bicycle and free weights. If massage was available it was offered in a small area off the salon where one could get their hair or nails done.
Today profits making mega spas and massive fitness centers have hit the high seas. Welcome to the spa wars.
According to Bob Dickinson, president/CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines, more than 1.5 million passengers are expected to utilize the fitness and spa facilities of its 20-ship fleet. Just try to get on a treadmill or book a massage. Actually Carnival’s newer ships such as the Valor boast 13,000 square feet of workout/pamper space.
In addition to dozens of exercise machines Carnival’s spas feature two whirlpools, an aerobics room, and a juice bar. Exercise classes on these ships are so popular you have to sign up for them well in advance. There are also steam baths, saunas and the entire spectrum of spa treatments-including a special Y Program for teens that offers seep cleansing fresh fruit facials, surfers scrubs, sea salt scrubs, teeth whitening and poolside hair braiding.
While the use of shipboard gyms is complimentary, many cruise companies charge about $10 a passenger for specialized classes such Pilate’s or Spinning. You might also have to shell out $15 or more to use the spa on a few ships. Access to all shipboard gyms is free (as of this writing anyway).
What Price Pampering
The cost for pampering, with few exceptions, has skyrocketed to triple digits. Oddly enough Radisson Seven Seas’ Carita Spa of Paris was one of the most expensive at sea, but at last look prices dropped at least 10%. Most recently an hour massage was $95. Call it a facial and the price drops, however book a “cathiodermie” facial, “Ionithermie” muscle toning; “affinoderm” body wrap, “thalassotherapy” or any other provocative sounding procedure you’ll pay dearly. However, this doesn’t stop most passengers who now book on line or the minute they set food aboard ship.
Miami/British-based salon operator, Steiner maintains a veritable monopoly of onboard facilities. The company dispatches therapists and estheticians to more than 100 ships at sea. When another company, Mandara Spas attempted to compete in the early 90s, Steiner did what mega corporations do and bought them out. While treatments have improved greatly, thanks to some savvy cruise companies who allegedly read Steiner to riot act, one aspect that needs help is the constant hawking of products by many estheticians and massage therapists (for which commissions are earned).
Quite often the best-trained therapists are put on pricier ships (Crystal, Silversea, Seabourn, Windstar). However the bigger, newer ships boast the biggest and often the best fitness and spa facilities.
Physically Fit Take to the Seas “People are more active than ever and want to be able to continue their workout regimen while on vacation,” says Bob Dickinson, president and CEO of Carnival Corporation, which he adds, “prides itself in offering some of the largest and most elaborate spas at sea.” And he’s not just whistling Dixie, spas on these ships range from 12,000 to 15,000 square feet and growing.
Since Carnival also attracts a younger clientele than most, the fitness centers and spas are jammed from day of embarkation. However the popularity of pampering has spread to just about cruise line with many offering passengers the opportunity to book treatments on line or by filling out forms ahead of time that sent with their tickets. Alas, when it comes to getting on a treadmill or elliptical machine, it’s survival of the fastest there.
The Facilities: All ships in this mega fleet sport dynamite spas, but the 13,300 square foot spa Carnival on the Valor is the headliner. In addition to the latest, hottest Keiser exercise equipment passengers can burn calories and firm up with kickboxing, spinning, aerobics and spa cuisine. There are also Jogging tracks and pools.
Pamper possibilities: Dozens of top to bottom treatments are offered at the attractive Steiner salons. Not one to miss the boat in our youth obsessed culture, Carnival offers a Y Spa Program for teens (oddly enough so has Royal Caribbean, more on that below), with beauty treatments and special exercise options designed to attract the under 20, but older than 16 seafarer.
Crystal Cruises Harmony, three-ship fleet, Call 800-820-7763; www.crystal cruises.com
The Facilities: Attractive, fully-equipped feng shui correct fitness centers and spas designed with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the sea (aerobics, stretch, step) are often superb as are the personal trainers available for a fee. Each ship provides changing room with steam, sauna and lockers. Each vessel sports a nice long jogging track, large pool, basketball and volleyball courts. The Steiner salons are all stunners with serene treatment rooms. Crystal insists on a top-notch spa staff for its sophisticated, well-heeled passengers and Steiner obliges.
Pamper Possibilities: Head to toe maneuvers from a Frangipani Ceremony of Strands (translation: hair and scalp treatment that costs from $191 to $211) to$61 “Sole Delight” pedicures. In between is the usual list of salubrious suspects from assorted facials, massages (stone, shiatsu, Swedish) and body treatments.
Celebrity Cruises’ nine-ship fleet, call: 800-437.3111
Facilities: Fully equipped fitness centers on all ships boast sufficient treadmills and equipment to satisfy the 1300-plus passengers. Exercise classes have proved exceptional. Personal trainers are available for a few to help you boost your metabolism strengthen and stretch teach weight training and basically motivate and pump you up. For additional calorie burning there each ship sports a jogging track and large swimming pools.
Spas on the Infinity, Millennium, Galaxy, Summit and Constellation are the most comprehensive with steam and sauna bath. If you have two to five hours to spare, book one of the many “ceremonies and rituals” offered in the spa such as “Egyptian Ceremony of Milk and Ginger”, Asian Ceremony of Stone”, “Tahitian Ceremony of Flowers”. Advance bookings are available by calling 1-800-437-3111.
Pampering Possibilities: pumped up the pampering with its innovative AquaSpa by Elemis, designed to release tension while pummeling the body with hydrotherapy jets is the highlight of its eye-catching fleet wide spa while its Acupuncture at Sea program headlines therapeutic options on five of its newest vessels. The Oriental technique targets passengers who want to stop smoking, lose weight, reduce stress and decrease pain—which takes in a pretty big group. In addition to the needles, passengers can attend lectures on the subject and learn the benefits of feng shui, good nutrition and healing with herbs. According to Dietmar Wertanzl, the company’s senior vice president of fleet operations, the program has enjoyed large success since its debut on the Infinity in 2003.
Princess Cruises: 11 ship fleet, call: 800-774-6237; http://www.princess.com
Facilities: Much to the chagrin of many passengers, Princess no longer offers its Cruisercize reward as you go program. In its place are additional exercise classes such as high/lo aerobics, basketball play, “minimize your middle” (just like it sounds), step aerobics classes for all levels, firm & fabulous, and circuit training. Kickboxing, Yoga, Pilates and Spinning and personal trainers are available for a fee. The fitness centers are extremely well fitted with large aerobics floors, weight room, exercise bikes, plenty of treadmills, and weight equipment. Each is situated on upper decks where wide windows allow great views of the sea.
Pamper Possibilities: Sybarites can enjoy steam baths, saunas, hydrotherapy, two outdoor Jacuzzi’s and an extensive menu of spa services. There is also an inviting pool suspended between two decks adjacent to the gym.
All ships sport super-jogging tracks. And of course there are large pools for lap swimming.
Windstar Cruises: three ship fleet, call: 800-258-7245, http://www.windstarcruises.com
Facilities: Each ship boasts greatly enhanced spas and fitness centers. But the WindSurf leads the pack with a spiffy 1,895-square-foot facility filled with Nautilus equipment, an exercise gym, treadmills, stationary bicycles, free weights, elliptical machines, stair climbers and workout stations. Wrap around windows offer great ocean views. Supervised aerobics, Yoga and Pilates (for an extra $11 a class), Cardio Kick-Boxing, and Kai Bo are held regularly in the Nautilus Fitness Room.
Pamper Possibilities: Each WindSpa features a menu of exotic face and body options such as Aroma stones massage, ocean wrap, Reiki, Shiatsu, Reflexology, nail and h air care and much more. If you’re really dedicated, you can hire a personal trainer or diet consultant, have your body fat measured (to avoid shock, do this early in the cruise) and watch your weight with special Sail Lite cuisine created by chef Jeanne Jones. Other ways to stay in shape include snorkeling, windsurfing, kayaking off the water sports platform, or running around the jogging track (many times, these are small ships remember). The coed sauna adjacent to the Watersports platform, feels really good after hours frolicking in the sea.
Royal Caribbean International: 17 ship fleet, call: 800-327-6700, http://www.royalcaribbean.com
Facilities: Each fitness center caters to Xtreme fitness fanatics with some of the biggest and best workout areas afloat, especially on newer ships such as the Brilliance of the Sea with its 15,000-square-feet fitness center and spa. There are dozens of treadmills, tons of equipment and a 30-foot high rock-climbing wall.
Pamper Possibilities: The usual, extensive Steiner menu of indulgences awaits on every RCL ship. Like Carnival, the cruise line tempts teens with a special Fitness Frenzy package, a boot camp for 16 to 19 year olds who want to get in shape, and Y Spa choices. Teenster choices include a “Fake Bake” body scrub; “Surfers Scrub” aromatherapy massage; “Fruity Facials” and manicures and pedicures. The Elemis Steiner salon lavishes the gamut of treatments on moms and dads.
Radisson Regent Seven Seas:
Facilities: The fitness area on each ship varies but is usually sufficiently equipped with treadmills, steppers, free weights and bodybuilding machines.
Pamper Possibilities: The fleet wide Carita of Paris Spa boasts some of the top therapists and estheticians in the business. Each tres chic salon dishes out exclusive French therapies designed to reduce wrinkles and cellulite, lift the face, firm your butt (that’s what they claim), and but of course relax and rejuvenate.
Holland America: 12 ship fleet, call: 800-426-0327, www.hollandamerica.com
Facilities: This fleet of bodacious boats houses 1, 400 square foot floating versions of Steiner’s prestigious Texas-based Greenhouse Spas. Currently available on all Vista Class ships; the spa will operate fleet wide in spring of 2006. There is a $15 usage fee for spa facilities, but use of the super sized, well-stocked fitness centers are complimentary. .
Pamper Possibilities: We’re talking out of the body indulgences here beginning with two to four hour Greenhouse “Ceremonies” that run $215 to $350 to exotic rubs, wraps, tanning sessions, and salt glows and way beyond.
Silversea Cruises: four ship fleet, call: 800-722-9955, www.silversea.com
Facilities: Each of these seamless small luxury liners house small fitness rooms. However, they also tend to employ top instructors who lead dynamite exercise classes. A Pilate’s instructor onboard the Silver Shadow proved even better than my landside mentor.
Pamper Possibilities: When Mandara Spas first landed on Silversea ships, yours truly cheered. After all this is one of the best spa organizations in the industry. It wasn’t long, however that Steiner bought them out. The name’s still “Mandara, and it does distinguish itself from the usual Steiner trademark with the emphasis on Oriental décor, and therapies that always begin with Asian-style foot soak.
When You’re Rich Enough to Afford the Very Best
SeaDream I and II:
Facilities: There are fully outfitted gyms each of these yacht sized luxury vessels along with a water sports marina from which to kayak, swim jet ski or snorkel, and mountain bikes to use ashore. Each ship provides fitness therapists to lead you through aerobics, yoga, Tai Chi or a tailor-made program
Pamper Possibilities: An extremely discerning clientele demands the very best and both ship abide with Asian Spa and Wellness Centers fit for royalty. Treatments include Japanese Shiatsu massage; Javanese Lulur, a spice and yogurt scrub; a Balinese Salt Glow; a papaya body polish and the signature massage which combines Eastern and Western techniques into one salubrious session. And if you’re really serious you can opt for the Asia Spa Wellness cuisine and non-alcoholic healthy cocktails.
Behemoth Ship Meets Behemoth Spa
Queen Mary 2: toll free 800-728-6273, http://www.cunard.com
Facilities: The behemoth 2,620 passenger Queen Mary2 sports a 20,000 square foot floating version of the Canyon Ranch (of the Berkshires and Tucson) called Canyon Ranch SpaClub (20,000 square feet is devoted to exercise and pampering on two separate decks. The Fitness Center is stocked with all the latest tools to keep you in shape while the Beauty and Skin Care Centre proffers salubrious treatments to help you unwind. While the fitness center is free, there is a $25 a day charge to take a shower or use a locker. A fee is also levied to use the facilities at the Aqua Therapy Centre (whirlpool, reflexology bath, sensory showers, sauna, steam or ice fountain), however this is waived if you book a treatment. Additional, complimentary calorie burning activities include basketball and paddle tennis courts, jogging track and golf simulators.
Cunard Line, 24303 Town Center Drive Suite 200, Valencia, CA 91355 United States