While you likely think of it only as a cruise ship, it’s more accurate to think of the vessel you are sailing as a complete resort at sea. After all, there are not only cabins, but pools, theaters, casino, restaurants, bars, and yes, even a spa.
In fact, the spa might be one of the most underrated spots on the ship. On an average cruise, only a small percentage of passengers visit and receive a treatment. Of course, this could be due to the fact that spa treatments cost extra and in many cases they are fairly pricey.
But it could also be that it’s a bit of a mystery on the ship. Spas are usually tucked away at one end with a front desk that makes it feel off limits if you don’t have a reservation. If you want to know more about this part of a cruise, we’ve covered a number of the ins and outs below.
Introduction to Cruise Ship Spas
First things first, if you’re sailing on a major cruise ship, then you can rest assured that it will have a spa. Often they are at one end of the ship and feel completely separate from the rest of the vessel. The design is usually bright and airy with a calming atmosphere (often with soft music and even different smells than the rest of the ship).
Past the front desk, you’ll find all the amenities of a traditional spa. There are treatment rooms for everything from massages to hair treatments. There are relaxation rooms for before or after your service. Showers and dressing rooms are here. There is also a day use area that generally features heated loungers, spa, specialty showers, and sauna spaces. Some spas even feature more rooms like a salt room (supposed to help with breathing) and a cold room (improved circulation).
As mentioned, most access is fee-based. So if you want a massage, then you’ll have to pay up. The fitness center, dressing room, and traditional showers are open to all passengers who can use them freely.
What Services Are Available?
When it comes to what treatments you can get on the ship, it might be easier to just name what you can’t have done.
That’s just to say there are a lot of options. Massages? There’s deep tissue, Swedish, bamboo and more. Manicures and pedicures? Of course. Hair styling, haircuts, couples treatments. There’s a wide range of what you can do. Here’s a list from just one Royal Caribbean cruise:
- Swedish massage
- Aroma stone therapy
- Deep tissue massage
- Seaweed massage
- Bamboo massage
- Salt scrub
- Cellulite reduction
- Body composition analysis
- Personal training
- Nutritional consult
- Teeth whitening
As you can tell, the cruise ship spa isn’t just a place to get a massage or a nail salon. It’s full service with lots of options to choose from… and then some.
How Much Does a Treatment Cost at the Spa?
As you might expect, the price of the service at the spa will vary depending on what you get. A two-hour couples massage is going to cost more than a manicure.
In general, however, prices are at a premium on the ship compared to many places on land and on par with land-based resorts. You can expect an hour-long massage to start at about $100-$150. A mani/pedi will run between $50-$100. A woman’s haircut will be about the same.
To give you an idea, here is a list of spa treatments from one cruise line. Keep in mind that prices will vary by line and the specific treatment, but this gives a good idea of the sort of prices to expect.
Just know that treatments on the cruise ship are not what most people consider cheap.
Are Day Passes Available?
One thing that doesn’t seem to be advertised on cruises is that you can purchase day passes for spa entry. We find these relatively affordable, often available for less than $50 per person.
With the day pass, you get access to the spa facilities. This will include hot tubs, specialty showers, heated loungers, sauna, and more.
If you want to relax for more than just what comes with a service or just want to enjoy some relaxation time without spending a bundle, then we’d suggest it. You can simply head down to the spa to ask about the passes.
What Hours Is the Spa Open?
Whether you like to relax in the morning, have a mid-day treatment, or take it easy in the evening, the spa will be waiting for you.
Spa hours are rather lengthy, running typically from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
In other words, almost no matter the time it should be open.
Gratuities and the Cruise Spa
Anyone that’s taken a cruise knows that gratuities are common. There are daily gratuity charges for things like the room steward and restaurant staff. Then if you get a drink from the bar, a gratuity is tacked on top of the menu price.
It’s a similar situation for spa services. If you are receiving a treatment, then there is the list price of the service. So say a massage is $129. But on top of that, you’ll have an automatic gratuity charge that’s included. This is normally 18-20% of the cost, depending on the cruise line’s policy.
In other words, the “out the door” price on a $129 treatment would actually be closer to $155, depending on your cruise line’s gratuity charge.
How to Book Treatments/Services in the Spa
If you want to book a massage, manicure, haircut or other service, you have a few options. First, if you have a specific time that you want to go, then we’d suggest booking as soon as possible. Some of the most popular times can fill up.
But how do you actually book?
The easiest way is to set something up via your online account or the cruise line app before you board. Online or through the app, you can scroll through all the options available, see prices, and available times. Reserving your spot is as simple as a few clicks.
Conversely, you can also wait until you are on the ship and just head down to the spa. There, you can speak with the staff to learn about your options, prices, and book a service.
Tours Are Available if You Want to See Before You Book
Not sure if you want a treatment or just want a better idea of what to expect in the spa? It can be helpful to get a look at everything before you decide.
During the first day of the cruise, there are usually open hours where the spa is wide open to meet passengers, share information about treatments, and provide tours of the facility. There’s no charge or obligation.
In fact, you can stop by at any time throughout the trip and request to have a look around. The staff — assuming they are available — will lead you around to show you the entire spa. It’s a good way to get a feel for the place if you’re on the fence about booking.
Are There Discounts or Deals for Services?
Want to save a little money? There are a few ways that you can get spa treatments for less. First of all, many cruise lines offer discounts for booking ahead of the cruise. This can often save you 5-10% off the onboard prices.
Next, there are sometimes sales or special offers while on the ship. Simply look at the daily planner for mention of the offer.
Finally, some lines also offer lower prices on spa treatments if booked at certain times or days. For instance, there may be lower prices for treatments that happen on the day of boarding (when many passengers aren’t thinking about the spa) and higher prices during a day at sea when there is more demand.