Mind, Body, Soul: Spas at Sea

Spas at sea have evolved far beyond traditional facials and massages. Today, they’re enclaves of pampering, relaxation, wellness and vitality. Most notably, the scope of treatments has expanded sizably, offerings are highly inventive, and wellness is a prime focus.

Launching earlier this year, Oceania Cruises’ newest ship, the 1,200-passenger Vista, is home to the Aquamar Spa + Vitality Center, providing a wide range of holistic wellness experiences, both aboard ship and shoreside. For instance, guests can dine on Aquamar Vitality Cuisine before heading ashore for a Wellness Discovery Tour by Aquamar, such as a journey to mineral baths outside Rome or to a traditional Myanmar teahouse.

Within the spa, guests will discover two Gharieni specialty beds, a Crystal Quartz bed and an Amphibia bed, which are used for targeted temperature stimulation, muscle relaxation and energy blockage. Vista is the only ship within the Oceania fleet with these unique beds. In addition, the ship’s Spa Vitality area is comprised of two large hot tubs, a thalassotherapy pool with massage jets and other heated lounge beds.

Signature spa services range from aroma stone therapy to a nourishing coconut poultice massage and R3 (relax, repair, relieve) pain management therapy. We’d suggest indulging with the signature, calming “Ocean Spa Wave Massage.” Nestled onto a heated, water-filled cushion, the guest is enveloped by a warm wrap of nutrient-rich sea plants and marine algae. This deep cleansing seaweed mask plus aromatherapy oils decongests and stimulates the body’s systems. A scalp-and-foot massage provides more relaxation, as customized color therapy illuminates the cushion.

As Oceania’s first new ship in more than a decade, the new Vista offers spacious standard staterooms at more than 290 square feet. Also notable is that all Penthouse Suites and staterooms have roomy bathrooms with oversized rainforest showers.

Otium Spa Silver Nova
The eight treatment rooms of the Otium Spa on Silver Nova offers a range of treatments. (Silversea Cruises)

Silversea Cruises’ new 728-passenger Silver Nova, the first vessel in the ultra-luxury line’s new Nova-class, will begin sailing in the Mediterranean region this month. Situated on Deck 5, the ship’s 3,638-square-foot Otium Spa will offer the Otium wellness program, which debuted on Silver Dawn in 2022. Taking inspiration from the lifestyle of ancient Rome’s wealthy residents, the guest spa experience reflects balanced indulgence, pampering, and pleasure, rather than sacrifice and delayed gratification.

As a result, guests sailing on Silver Nova can anticipate a sensorial experience, décor with a soothing color palette, sophisticated materials and Roman-inspired art. One change? Silver Nova’s spa is in a new spot (compared with Silver Dawn); Positioned toward the bow to create more interior space, the spa offers an indoor swimming pool; eight treatment rooms, a tranquil relaxation area; fitness center; and beauty salon.

As with ancient Roman baths, Silver Nova’s spa allows guests to seamlessly “flow” between interconnecting areas. The thermal area, Silversea’s largest fleetwide, has a steam room, sauna, pool, travertine water fountain and floor-to-ceiling windows. Guests will relax amid soft lighting and natural stones with hints of red marble.

For “top digs” we’d suggest Silver Nova’s two new, 1,324-square-foot, one-bedroom Otium Suites. Situated in premium aft corner positions, these suites have floor-to-ceiling windows in all living areas. Guests will find a spacious living room with separate living and dining areas; walk-in closet; separate large bedroom with custom-made luxury mattress; bathroom with both a whirlpool and walk-in shower; and a 431-square-foot balcony with private whirlpool.

Otium Spa Silver Nova
The Otium Spa on Silver Nova houses an indoor swimming pool; a relaxation area; fitness center; and a beauty salon (shown here). (Silversea)

This summer, ultra-luxury Crystal has relaunched under the new ownership of A&K Travel Group. In late July, the revitalized, refreshed Crystal Serenity began cruising in the Mediterranean; Crystal Symphony will follow in early September. Crystal collaborated with Tillberg Design of Sweden to create a new spa-and-wellness concept, Aurora Spa, for both ships.

Inspired by that gorgeous time of the day when the sun begins to rise, the spa will field light-bright neutral colors, an illuminated fiber optic starlight ceiling, organic materials and a natural salt crystal slate stone. The look is designed to reflect energy, light and balance.

Facility-wise, Crystal Serenity will offer 12 treatment rooms and Crystal Symphony 10 treatment rooms. In addition, the ships will offer male and female steam rooms, saunas and a relaxation room on both ships. The ships also have a salon and offer nail and make-up treatments for both men and women.

One SpaWorld, which had previously operated Crystal’s spa (under the former owners) for more than 20 years, has returned to manage and operate both ships’ spas. It’s partnered with LightStim for LED light therapy technology. Using their LightStim ProPanel, a first-at-sea, One SpaWorld has curated a unique selection of facials and massages exclusively for the Crystal guest.

Aurora Spa Crystal Serenity
The Aurora Spa on Crystal Serenity, here and below, also offers a salon and nail and make-up treatments for both men and women. (Crystal Cruises)

Aurora Spa also offers “The Healing Center,” using LED technology for pain management by LightStim. The spa will also tap into the latest technology and treatments through exclusive partnerships with British skincare brand ELEMIS and beauty expert Kerastase. Among facial treatments are the “Aurora LED and Cryo Facial Experience,” which instantly can plump and tone the skin, and the “Biotec 2.0 The Ultimate Facial,” designed to create a more youthful appearance after just one treatment.

Prefer a massage? Among Crystal’s new signature massage treatments are the “Aurora Stone Signature Massage” using hot stones for muscle relaxation, and “The Chariot of Light,” which taps into LED light therapy to energize and refresh the skin.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises will launch its new 750-passenger, ultra-luxury Seven Seas Grandeur later this year. While few details about the ship’s Serene Spa & Wellness facility are yet known, the spa is expected to offer restorative treatments and activities incorporating globally sourced natural ingredients.

What is known, however, is that the ship’s 4,443-square-foot Regent Suite (including a 1,292-square-foot private terrace) will have its own in-suite spa. So, luxury travelers staying in that top-of-the-line suite will have their own heated tile loungers, sauna, steam room, jetted tub and unlimited access to in-suite spa services.

Wellness-focused shore excursions, mostly complimentary, are also among Regent Seven Seas’ fleetwide experiences for guests. For example, the “Unique Wellness Experiences in Santorini” is one active option. Classified as strenuous, guests will climb to the crater of an active volcano, swim in thermally warmed, mineral-rich offshore sea waters and relax with a meditative yoga session.

For something truly unusual, guests going ashore at Lakuoka, Fiji, can book a “Fijian Natural Thermal Mud Bath Highlights” wellness excursion. After traveling to the rainforest of the Sabeto River mountain valley, they’ll slip into a natural geothermal mud pond, slather the mud over their bodies, then wash it off in a warm-water pool, all designed to exfoliate skin. That’s followed by a unique, 15-minute traditional Fijian massage—not done by hands but rather bare feet!

Within Azamara’s full-service Sanctum Spa, guests can enjoy a soothing massage including exotic massages from destinations across the globe. Guests can also choose teeth whitening, body sculpting, barber services or a quick manicure so they look their best before heading out for dinner ashore.

In addition, the upscale line offers acupuncture treatments by practitioners licensed by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. Some of these ancient healing treatments target pain management or smoking cessation.

For relaxation aboard, we’d head to the Sanctum Terrace, a private spa deck with a bubbling saltwater bath and powerful jets that massage while guests soak up the views. If clients are die-hard spa fans, we’d suggest they look at Azamara’s Spa Rituals—half- and full-day packages that include body sculpting, facials and massages. Fleetwide, Azamara’s guests can participate in complimentary onboard fitness and nutrition classes, plus one-on-one personal training is available for an additional cost.

At times, cruise ship spa treatments are tailored to the sailing region. Cruising throughout French Polynesia and the South Pacific, Paul Gauguin Cruises offers a “Tahitian Wave Massage,” which suggests the relaxing back-and-forth motion of ocean tides. Within the line’s Algotherm spa, that 80-minute treatment combines a subtle body scrub and a full-body massage inspired with Lomi Lomi (Hawaiian) and Polynesian know-how. It’s designed to soothe muscles and realign energy flow.

Prefer a relaxing spa treatment during a shore call? That’s doable too. The 330-passenger Paul Gauguin will transport guests to Motu Mahana. That’s Paul Gauguin Cruises’ private isle off the coast of Taha’a in French Polynesia. There, the line will set up an “overwater massage” for guests who so desire.

Aurora Spa Treatment Room
(Crystal Cruises)

Another line with regional spa treatments and destination themed therapies is Windstar Cruises. The World Spa by Windstar offers a robust menu of treatments, using Elemis products. During its recent $250 million Star-Plus Initiative revitalization, the boutique luxury line revitalized and “stretched” its three Star-Plus-Class ships, Star Breeze, Star Legend and Star Pride by 84 feet. That added many new spaces including an enlarged spa and fitness center with workout equipment by Technogym.

Among the enticing spa treatments fleetwide, for those ships as well as for Windstar’s three sailing ships, are “Mediterranean Rosemary and Thyme Massage,” designed to antioxidize and also reduce inflammation. Alternatively, how about a fragrant “South Pacific Body Nourishing Wrap,” inspired by Tahiti’s flowers?

Frangipani flowers deliver intense moisture even for the driest skins, while Monoi oil is an extract derived from the Tahitian gardenia flower. When paired together, these flowers deliver superb hydration as the guest’s body is enveloped in a fragrant, moisturizing wrap, followed by a 25-minute back massage or 50-minute, full-body massage.

In June 2023, Viking’s 930-passenger Viking Saturn debuted, the 10th such ship in that ocean class. Nestled forward on Deck 1, the ship’s Nordic Spa is adjacent to the fitness center and salon. Viking’s spa experience draws upon the holistic wellness philosophy of Nordic culture.

So, travelers desiring to experience a Scandinavian tradition can first invigorate themselves in the spa’s sauna and steam room, and then visit the Snow Grotto, which has chilled air and fluffy snow wafting from the ceiling. The heat can alleviate tired muscles while the cold can help reduce inflammation.

Expedition Ship Spas

Guests who’ve had a robust day of exploring, perhaps a vigorous trek, kayaking trip, or Zodiac excursion, can return to their cocooning luxury expedition ship to relax and rejuvenate. On Viking’s 378-passenger Viking Octantis and sister Viking Polaris, they’ll find a Nordic Spa that’s home to an indoor heated pool set against expansive windows. So, guests can relax cozily inside while admiring gorgeous polar scenery. Also, the spa has a “badestamp,” a wood-sided hot tub.

Seabourn’s new expedition ship, the 264-passenger Seabourn Venture, sports a spa design conceived as a contemporary “floating forest.” How so? Guests will discover a tree-inspired glass art mural, an interior palette of light wood and bronze coloring, and even a reception area with live wood elements. Both Seabourn Venture and new sister Seabourn Pursuit also have floor-to-ceiling windows in the fitness and yoga rooms—providing stunningly gorgeous scenic views of the Arctic, Antarctic or elsewhere.

Both ships’ spas also incorporate Dr. Andrew Weill’s Mindful Living programming, which advocates a holistic mind-and-body approach. Skilled therapists offer facials and body massages, plus detox, cleansing and wrap services. Guests also can participate in complimentary group yoga and guided meditation sessions, while Dr. Weill’s Mindful Living seminars focus on integrative medicine, nutrition, pain management and creative aging.

During our recent Seabourn Venture sailing, the ship’s daily program listed such complimentary offerings as a 20-minute wellness seminar, 20-minute meditation class, and 50-minute yoga class. Individual “Mindful Living Yoga Training” was available at an added fee. Seabourn also offered such seminars such as “Eat More to Weigh Less,” “How to Increase Your Metabolism,” and “Detox Your Body with Ionithermie.”

Seabourn’s new expedition ship, Seabourn Venture has a reception area with live wood elements. (Seabourn Cruises)

Seabourn Venture also offers a fitness center with a range of motion and variable resistance equipment. If requested, a fitness director will assess the guest and recommend a customized fitness regimen. Finally, the ship has a full-service salon for hair styling, facials, manicures and pedicures, for both men and women.

If clients seek a Zen-like experience aboard a small expedition ship, we’d recommend the 5,290-square-foot Senses Spa on Scenic Group’s new, 232-passenger Scenic Eclipse II. Senses Spa offers an ESPA menu of treatments, and has treatment rooms, saunas, temperature-controlled plunge pools, and an expanded steam room with aromatherapy, an integrated ice fountain and experience showers.

A new KLAFS custom salt-therapy lounge offers thermal loungers that provide gentle heat to purify the body, and aromatherapy scents. In addition, Scenic Eclipse II also has a dedicated male and female wellness areas, Vitality Pool, and well-equipped gym and dedicated yoga/Pilates studio.

To relax outside the spa, we’d pop up to Scenic Eclipse II’s Sun Deck (Deck 10), an enhanced space on this second Discovery Yacht. There, guests will find a new indoor/outdoor Sky Bar, ample seating, private cabanas and an outdoor pool.

As for creature comforts, Scenic Eclipse II’s luxurious accommodations are quite spacious—ranging from 344-square-foot Verandah Suites to the 2,659-square-foot Two-Bedroom Penthouse Suite. All suites have butler service. From our on-site perspective, we slept extremely well, thanks to soft Egyptian cotton linens, pillow menu choices, and an electronically controlled Scenic Slumber Bed, adjustable to lounge or sleep positions.

Luxury Travel Advisor also recently sailed on Atlas Ocean Voyages’ 196-passenger World Traveller, a lovely boutique luxury vessel and polar explorer. The ship’s 947-square-foot SeaSpa by L’Occitane is geared toward relaxation with ocean-view loungers in the spa’s Serenity Lounge waiting area. This spa also has two treatment rooms and an infrared sauna, plus it fields revitalizing, holistic spa treatments with organic L’Occitane products.

Staying well isn’t simply about fitness, though. Did you know that people today sleep two hours less per night than folks did in the 1960s? It’s true, and a decrease in sleep quality can negatively impact skin quality. Thus, Atlas offers a unique, 90-minute “Sleep and Reset Spa Massage” to help restore the body’s sleeping cycle. In cooperation with the European Sleep Center, L’Occitane evaluated this treatment. That research shows that one night after this treatment, sleep quality improves by 40 percent and seven days post-treatment, it keeps improving.

This “Sleep and Reset Spa Massage” begins with guided breathing techniques and a blend of essential oils designed to aid relaxation. The face is then cleansed with L’Occitane products before an Immortelle Reset serum is applied. A continuing massage of the body includes the scalp, ears and neck. Balinese and Swedish techniques are gently applied to the legs to help drain fluid. Finally, an intense-release back massage helps the body to rest.

All of Ponant’s luxurious, small oceangoing ships have a spa with massage cabins, and other spa facilities vary by individual ship. For instance, the line’s Explorer-class vessels have a sauna as does the line’s eco-friendly icebreaker, the 245-passenger Le Commandant Charcot. After a kayak or Zodiac excursion along the ice floes, that ship’s “explorers” also can head to the Nuan Lounge; “nuan” translates to wellness in Inuit culture.

Other spa-and-wellness spaces on Le Commandant Charcot include a sauna, indoor heated pool, fitness studio and a detox bar. Coolest in multiple ways, though, is the ship’s snow room. Reflective of Finnish spas, the room is chilled to 14 degrees Fahrenheit and has fresh powder snow.

Varying ship to ship, Ponant also partners for spa/wellness treatments with such French brands as Sothys; Clarins for Le Bellot and Le Jacques-Cartier; and Biologique Recherche for Le Commandant Charcot and Le Ponant.

If sailing on Le Commandant Charcot, which operates many enticing Arctic Region and Antarctica voyages, we’d suggest checking out the four gorgeous 1,011-square-foot, split-level suites (with private terraces and whirlpools) aft on Decks 6 and 7.

Seabourn Venture
The spa on Seabourn Venture incorporates Dr. Andrew Weill’s Mindful Living programming. (Seabourn Cruises)

Fitness and Relaxation

On all three Virgin Voyages ships, Redemption offers a full menu of rejuvenating treatments plus a mud room, salt room, sauna, steam room, hot and cold plunge pools, and heated marble hammam benches. Virgin’s guests also value fitness, so complimentary fitness classes are offered for every fitness level—whether guests are a reigning lightweight champion or someone who pays for a gym membership but never goes.

The ship’s B-Complex offers Technogym equipment, Bungee classes and more. After their onboard workout, guests might then pop into the ships’ juice bars or have their favorite juice delivered. Ashore, guests will discover guided meditation sessions, HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts or SUP-yoga (on a stand-up paddleboard) at Bimini’s Beach Club.

In 2024, Celebrity Cruises will begin calling for the first time at sister Royal Caribbean International’s private Bahamian island experience, “Perfect Day at CocoCay.” Both the 3,046-passenger Celebrity Reflection and the 3,260-passenger Celebrity Beyond will sail to the isle from Port Everglades, FL, the latter ship year-round.

For the ultimate in relaxation and privacy, the isle’s Coco Beach Club has a heated infinity pool, specialty restaurant, and 20 exclusive overwater cabanas—perfect spots for a relaxing massage treatment. Debuting in January 2024 is Hideaway Beach, a new adults-only area of the private isle; it too has private cabanas.

On some ships, spa treatments aren’t just for adults. Tweens and teens (ages 13-17) who sail on Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy, Disney Magic or Disney Wonder can enjoy treatments—as long as a parent is present—at Disney’s Chill Spa. That’s within the Senses Spa & Salon, which serves adults aboard.

Young travelers might choose the aromatic 50-minute “Hot Chocolate Wrap.” No tasting is involved, but a chocolate wrap of antioxidants is poured onto the skin and followed by a soothing massage. Alternatively, a “Mother/Daughter Paradise Massage” or “Father/Son Chill Out Massage” are either 25 or 50 minutes.

Le Commandant Charcot sauna
Spa-and-wellness spaces on Le Commandant Charcot include a sauna (shown above), indoor heated pool, and a detox bar. (PONANT / Gilles Trillard)

Holland America Line’s Greenhouse Spa & Salon offers a full range of treatments and therapies. Guests who plan sizable spa time should evaluate the line’s spa staterooms/suites with added spa perks and a convenient location. On the line’s newest ship, the 2,668-passenger Rotterdam, the Neptune Spa Suites span 465 square feet to 502 square feet (including veranda).

Neptune Spa Suites have floor-to-ceiling windows; a large sitting area with sofa bed (for one); a bedroom with a king-sized Mariner’s Dream bed that’s convertible to two twins; a bathroom with dual-sink vanity, whirlpool bath and shower, plus an additional shower.

Recently christened by Valerie Ann Wilson, founder and CEO of Valerie Wilson Travel, is Swan Hellenic’s third ship, the 192-passenger Diana. While this new PC6-class vessel can sail to the ends of the Earth, it also has a state-of-the-art gym, spa, panoramic sauna, swimming pool and much more.

Finally, on the wellness front, Princess Cruises and Xponential Fitness’ signature Pilates brand, Club Pilates, are teaming up for the first-ever “Club Pilates at Sea: An Alaska Retreat.” The 3,560-passenger Royal Princess will host this weeklong, wellness-focused Alaska voyage roundtrip from Seattle on September 2, 2023. Guests can take Pilates and Xponential fitness classes led by professional instructors.

Related Articles

Seabourn Takes Delivery of Seabourn Pursuit

A&K Travel Group Plans Four New Ships for Crystal by 2029

Scenic to Offer Culinary Cruises with Chef Bryan Voltaggio

Cunard Launches 2024 “Event Voyages” Program