Last updated: 10:00 AM ET, Sun March 01 2015

Opinion Home | Captain’s Blog: Cruise Tips and Advice

  • Amber Nolan | March 1, 2015 10:00 AM ET

    The Best Spas at Sea

    The Best Spas at Sea

    Cruise ship spas have become an expected fixture on most cruise lines, and as ships evolve, so do these luxurious retreats. Many are partnering with high-end beauty lines while others offer private, à la-carte treatments, relaxation areas, and even dedicated spa cabins to ensure a well-balanced voyage. These cruise ships have taken the onboard spa to an entirely new level of comfort.

    Costa Diadema

    Costa pioneered the concept of spa staterooms at sea: exclusive cabins with luxurious amenities like Elemis products and easy access to the spa. The newest ship, Costa Diadema, is fitted with 141 of these staterooms that include lunch or dinner in the health-conscious Samsara restaurant. The four-level Samsara Spa, salon, and wellness area spans an impressive 67,000 square feet – the largest in the fleet – and grants panoramic views.

    The thermal area contains a Tepidarium (warm thermal bath), Laconium (dry heat steam room), rock sauna, Thalassotherapy pool with saltwater jets, and a Japanese tea house. Treatments include Balinese massages, Elemis aroma stone therapy, and bamboo massages – to name a few.

    Cunard’s Queen Mary 2

    Located on two decks, the 20,000-square-foot spa on the regal Queen Mary 2 is an excellent place to spend time on a transatlantic crossing. The Canyon Ranch Spa Club has 24 massage, body, and skincare treatment rooms, an ice fountain, aqua therapy pool, Finnish sauna, thermal suite, and salon with ocean views.

    The elaborate spa menu includes more than 80 services ranging from peppermint scalp refreshers to deep tissue and aromatherapy massages. The Britannia restaurant also has specially designed Canyon Ranch menu selections to help maintain a healthy lifestyle while onboard.

    Regal and Royal Princess

    Two of Princess Cruises’ newest ships, the Regal Princess and Royal Princess feature the Lotus Spa which takes extra steps to focus on passengers’ well-being. The spa “villas” with private baths are a nice touch for couples massages or light snacks and beverages. In addition, the high-demand Enclave – an exclusive thermal suite three times the size of spas on other ships in the fleet – offers a steam room, ceramic loungers, and a waterfall-fed hydrotherapy pool for even more relaxation options.

    Crystal Serenity and Symphony

    Crystal Cruises’ Feng Shui-inspired spa at sea is fitted with Zen rock gardens, water fountains, and luxurious, strategically-placed furnishings. It also features a private, canopied relaxation and sun area, as well as added touches like a float-bed suite with an innovative sensory bed to create a feeling of weightlessness. The Elemis spa menu combines ancient techniques from ten cultures, with treatments like aroma stone therapy, bamboo or Thai herbal poultice massages.

    Ponant’s Le Boréal and L’Austral

    Carrying 264 passengers, Ponant’s Le Boréal and sister ship L’Austral don’t have the massive spas found on the mega ships, however the spa and salon offerings by this French cruise line are expansive and incorporate premium Sothys Paris products. Massage treatments include hot stone therapy and Japanese Hanakasumi spa rituals that use fragrances and spices. Both ships have a hair salon that is partnered with L’Oréal Professional, an intimate outdoor lounge area, and a balneotherapy room dedicated to treatments like hydro massages. There’s also a fitness area with views of the scenery, an herbal tea bar, and Turkish bath.

    Hapag-Lloyd’s Europa 2

    Hapag-Lloyd’s newest ship, MS Europa 2 is more mainstream than some of its other expedition vessels, but with a 500-passenger capacity, it maintains an intimate feel. The onboard spa measures over 11,000 square feet and features four saunas and eight treatment rooms, a Turkish bath, plus an outdoor relaxation area and a 2,000-square foot fitness studio. There are also personal spas with separate treatment loungers, a private sauna, and whirlpool. The ship is fitted with 16 spa suites that have steam saunas, and – for ultimate bliss – panoramic views from the whirlpool tubs in the bathrooms.

    Seabourn Sojourn

    The 8,820-square-foot spa aboard Seabourn Sojourn features the Kneipp Walk (a soothing water therapy system), as well as elegant, open-air villas that offer personalized, secluded treatments. The elaborate spa and salon menu includes 24-karat gold facials, Elemis seaweed wraps, Thai herbal poultice massages, Swedish massages, and other Western and Eastern treatments.


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Amber Nolan Captain’s Blog: Cruise Tips and Advice

Amber Nolan Amber Nolan loves to be on the water, and although she enjoys the fun and excitement of larger cruise ships, she prefers setting sail on smaller vessels to unique destinations. Originally from western New York, this restless traveler has a knack for finding creative ways to travel and befriending interesting characters along the way. On her most recent adventure, she hitchhiked on private aircraft across the United States. She previously served as the cruise editor at Sherman’s Travel but her work can also be found on and USA Today Travel. She current resides in South Florida.
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