Spa Bliss At Sea

Let’s face it, life is stressful, and sometimes all a body wants is to be kneaded, stretched, buffed, bronzed and beautified. That’s all possible on today’s cruise ships as cruise lines have set aside thousands of square feet to create state-of-the-art health, fitness and spa facilities. The spas are often run in conjunction with some of the most famous spa operators in the world, including Steiner Leisure and Canyon Ranch, and the fitness centers offer everything from cycling to yoga. Now that long-awaited cruise can be a revitalizing, healthy, full-body experience.

Wrap session

Besides solicitous staffs and calming surroundings, cruise ship spas offer many therapies designed to provide unique experiences by drawing on a wide range of healing, soothing and relaxation practices to help men, women and even teens relax and de-stress.

Take Lotus Spas, for example. These tranquil, Asian-themed spas, which are found on board Princess Cruises’ ships, offer treatments based on Far Eastern therapies and rituals. Offerings include a wide array of choices for facials and body treatments, including the Exotic Lime and Ginger Salt Glow. Massage treatments also run the gamut and include hot stones, Swedish massage, Shiatsu, and Reiki. In some cases, guests can even opt to have a massage in their staterooms, on deck or in a beachside bungalow.

Lotus Spa therapists have vast skincare and treatment knowledge and use only the best products with the finest ingredients. In keeping with the traditions of the Javanese royal houses, Lotus Spas offer treatment ingredients from the fruits of the earth such as papaya and ginger (used in wraps and scrubs) and ylang-ylang and jasmine (used for massage oils); similarly, the spas use algae and minerals from the bottom of the sea for hydrotherapy and Ionithermie. Other unique onboard spa offerings include dry floatation message beds, chakra balancing capsules, tooth whitening, and acupuncture. In addition to the spa treatments, hair stylists and manicurists are available to give guests a swift up-do, cut or color and to polish fingers and toes.

Fit club

Besides pampering treatments, onboard health and fitness facilities offer guests a full complement of resistance machines, free weights, and cardiovascular equipment; most also feature outdoor jogging tracks and several swimming pools. Shipboard health club staff offer complimentary tips on the proper use of equipment, and personal trainers are available to offer customized exercise programs as well as a series of health and nutrition seminars for an additional fee.

Most cruise lines also offer fitness classes that energize and burn calories while focusing on balance, concentration and inner strength. Cruise lines ensure that there are active options for guests at all fitness levels; typical activities include Spinning classes, Pilates, tai chi, yoga and step aerobics. And for guests who want to feel good both inside and out, most ships offer delicious and healthy spa cuisine, which is available in shipboard dining rooms or in special spa cafes. Clearly, travelers who choose to cruise needn’t leave their workout and dietary regimens at home.

Return revitalized

There’s no better place to relax and unwind than in the tranquil oasis of a cruise ship spa. It’s the ultimate haven for mind, body, and soul. Add a couple of trips to the gym and the health-food bar, and you’ll return to dry land rested, refreshed, and revitalized.

Anita Dunham-Potter is a Pittsburgh-based travel journalist specializing in cruise travel. Anita is a weekly travel columnist for and Tripso, and she is a contributor to Fodor’s “Complete Guide to Caribbean Cruises 2007”.

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