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Ahh, those floating spa-a-a-ahs: the new breed of sea-going spas are healthful, restful, wonderful. (Cruise Roundup).

"Oh, yes, that's the spot!" the 40-something blonde from Atlanta exclaimed from the thalassotherapy pool in the AquaSpa aboard Celebrity Cruises' Mercury. (The heated seawater pool features beds of air bubbles, jet stations, and scalp/neck/ shoulders pipes for a head-to-toe massage).

I, too, was in this spa--inspired by Japanese bathhouses and gardens--for the Rasul, a treatment adapted from an ancient Arabian ritual, according to Deryn Leam Grigorakos, the spa's manager. The Rasul consists of a shower/scrub, three mud baths, herb-infused steam, and a warm "monsoon" as a rinse.

Afterward, I tried to reserve a personal trainer and massage, but they were booked solid. Whatever the treatment, always book early, Grigorakos advised. "On vacation, people have more time to focus on themselves, and many do."

Adding to the floating spas' popularity, the facilities are right there, just steps from the passenger cabins. And they offer another advantage: use of gym, classes, and on many ships, spa cuisine, are included in the fare, with passengers paying a la carte for special services (as opposed to shelling out the $4,000-plus some land-based spas charge for a week). And, of course, shipboard spas go places, with passengers waking up in exotic corners of the world.

Most floating spas are operated by London-based Steiner Transocean. A crack appeared in Steiner's mud armor in May of 2000 when Silversea gave the nod to Hawaii-based Mandara Spa, and NCL and Orient soon followed suit. But by mid-2001, Steiner had closed the chink, buying 60 percent of Mandara. Other companies operating shipboard spas include Carita of Paris and Judith Jackson Sea Spa on Radisson Seven Seas, and Flair Ltd. on Royal Olympic.

For passengers who enjoy spa services as part of their cruise vacation, the following line-by-line look at what's floating around out there will be toe-tingling.

* Carnival Cruise Lines--The Carnival Spirit offers a Grecian-inspired Nautica Spa incorporating Doric columns and hand-painted murals with Greek vases and Olympic events depictions. The two-level, ocean-view facility, located forward on the upper Lido and Sun decks, has sauna, steam, salon, whirlpool (within the spa, one of five aboard), and 10 treatment rooms for therapies including Aroma Stone. It also features a mirrored aerobics room and a gym with Quinton treadmills, stair climbers, Life Fitness cycles and elliptical machines, Keiser progressive resistance machines, and free weights.

Destiny Class vessels feature 15,000 square feet including gyms with 10 Quinton treadmills, five Stairmasters, eight Lifecycles, two Concept II weight machines, free weights, aerobics room, and juice bar. The ships offer seven whirlpools. Fantasy Class vessels have six whirlpools and 12,000-sq.-ft. facilities including Precor treadmills, rowers, cycles, and steppers; Keiser weight machines; and free weights. The Holiday and Jubilee offer treadmills, stair climbers, stationary cycles, free weights, and two whirlpools within the spa.

Spa usage on Carnival's 15 ships was expected to push past the one million mark during 2001 (roughly half of its overall passenger base) according to Bob Dickinson, Carnival's president. All Carnival spas are operated by Steiner and offer personal trainers. Nautica Spa Fare menu selections are served on every ship.

* Celebrity Cruises--Millennium Class vessels boast the 25,000-sq.-ft. AquaSpa operated by Steiner, with 16 treatment rooms, ocean-view gym with cardiovascular and weight machines, cafe with light dishes, and a thalassotherapy pool with two air-beds, body jets, and neck massage. The hydropool is set in a glass-domed conservatory with topiaries and piped-in music. Facilities include Sultan Bath, a hydrotherapy treatment, and Persian Garden, with a tropical shower, grotto steam room, and fog shower.

Century Class vessels feature AquaSpas with more than 10,000 sq. ft. of space including ocean-view gyms with cardiovascular and weight machines, aerobics area, thalassotherapy pool, saunas, steam, salon, and wet and dry treatment rooms. The Horizon and Zenith offer gyms, aerobics area, salon, and massage rooms.

Personal trainers, fitness classes, sports activities, light dishes, and jogging tracks are available on all ships.

* Costa Cruises--The Caracalla Spa on the CostaRomantica, CostaAllegra, and CostaClassica is nearly 6,500 sq. ft. with royal blue tile with gold flecks, steam, sauna, saltwater therapy, massage, whirlpools, and Roman bath. A gym has aerobics floor, bikes, free weights, and personal trainers. The CostaClassica also has a health bar. All spas feature floor-to-ceiling windows, Techno-gym equipment, and are operated by Steiner.

The CostaVictoria offers the Pompei Spa with indoor pool, Turkish bath, sauna, hydrotherapy, gym with Lifecycles, free weights and aerobics room, plus jogging track. The CostaAtlantica features the two-level Ischia Spa & Olympia Gym, with treatment rooms for massage and hydrotherapy, gym, and aerobics area. The CostaMarina and CostaRiviera spa services include aromatherapy, gym, sauna, steam room, and beauty salon.

* Crystal Cruises--The ocean-view, Steiner-operated spas on the Crystal Harmony and Crystal Symphony are 3,000 sq. ft. In September of 2000, the line renovated them in accordance with Feng Shui principles with practitioner Carol Cannon strategically placing furnishings and adding touches such as Chinese tiles, Zen rock gardens, incense, fountains, and wind chimes.

Facilities and activities include aerobics, Cybex equipment and free weights, saunas, steam rooms, and personal training. Noteworthy treatments include an Aromaspa Active-Algae Wrap, combining sea plants with aromatherapy to treat cellulite and muscle tension. In addition to a promenade for walking/running, each ship has a lap pool with adjacent Jacuzzi, paddle tennis, golf driving, table tennis, and shuffleboard.

* Cunard Line--The Queen Elizabeth 2 spa has a thalassotherapy pool; outdoor pool; indoor lap pool; gym with tour treadmills, two step machines, two weight machines, four bikes, multi-station weight machine, and free weights; aerobics studio; salon; whirlpool; saunas; steam; shop; and six treatment rooms. Yoga and other classes are offered.

The Caronia offers outdoor pool, indoor pool, gym (675 sq. ft., with four treadmills, four bikes, two step machines, weight machines, and free weights), salon, sauna, and three treatment rooms. Classes, including yoga, are featured.

Cunard spas are operated by Steiner. Both ships offer personal trainers and serve low-fat dishes.

* Disney Cruise Line--The 9,000-sq.-ft., 180-degree-view Vista Spa & Salon onboard the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder sits at one of the ships' highest points, and has 11 treatment rooms for aromatherapy, mud, seaweed, hydrotherapy, and thermal baths in addition to the Tropical Rain Forest, a common thermal area with heated beds, music, and two Tropical Rain Showers (with the essences of passion fruit and peppermint); a Gentle Sauna; a Mild Steam Room (with eucalyptus, lime, peppermint, summer rose, and sage scents); an Aromatic Steam Room (with chamomile extracts); and a Fog Shower (a cool mint mist).

The gym features the Cybex VR2 line of strength-training equipment; Cybex Reactor machines; Cybex treadmills and upright and semi-recumbent bikes; Tectrix virtual reality stair climbers; free weights, and a Smith press machine. Staff lead aerobic classes, walks, water-exercise programs, personal training, and fitness analysis.

The Promenade Deck offers a quarter-mile for walking or jogging while the Sports Deck features basketball, paddle tennis, volleyball, anal badminton. At Castaway Cay, Disney's private Bahamian island, open-air massages in private cabanas can be booked.

* Holland America Line--A wide array of workout and spa services are featured. Fitness instructors conduct classes and one-on-one training. Through the Passport-To-Fitness program, guests can earn prizes such as T-shirts and caps. Gym equipment on the Amsterdam includes 11 treadmills, six bicycles, two recumbent bikes, three Stairmasters, and two rowers; on the Rotterdam, 10 treadmills, four bicycles, and two weight benches; Stantendam Class vessels offer treadmills, bicycles, Stairmasters, and rowers. The Westerdam (scheduled for transfer to Costa this spring) features treadmills, bicycles, and a Stairmaster.

All ships have weight machines and low-fat menu selections. All offer Steiner-operated salons and spa services including facials, aromatherapy, heat therapy, detoxification, firming and toning treatments, and the Nouveau Yu capsule.

* Norwegian Cruise Line--Mandara took over NCL's spas in January of 2001 bringing with it Asian treatments, in-stateroom treatments, poolside and ondeck massages during port days and on the beach during private island days. Spa treatments for couples are also available. Number of treatment rooms varies: the Norwegian Majesty and Norwegian Sea have three; the Norwegian Wind and Norwegian Dream have seven; the Norwegian Sky has 10; and the Norway has 11. Gyms on all NCL ships are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and offer Cybex weight machines and Lifefitness cardiovascular equipment. Classes include kickboxing. There are no personal trainers, but gym staff answers questions. Cooking Light recipes are featured.

* Orient Lines--Facilities aboard the Crown Odyssey include indoor pool, two indoor whirlpools, three treatment rooms, salon, gym with Lifecycles and Cybex equipment including bikes, rowing machine, steppers, treadmills, free weights, and strength-training machines. The spa decor features restful blue and white tiles. Notable treatments include the Mandara Massage featuring two therapists working simultaneously and the Bali Press Massage, the Balinese remedy for stress relief.

The Marco Polo's health club and beauty center is 2,734 sq. ft. Floor-to-ceiling windows provide aft views. The spa features an aerobics studio (with mirrors and bar), saunas, salon, two massage rooms, hydrotherapy, and a whirlpool-style bath using seawater. Technogym equipment includes bikes, rowers, steppers, and treadmills. There are free weights and strength-training machines.

Both ships feature personal trainers, body composition, and fitness analysis. Both ships offer vegetarian and low-calorie menu options daily.

* Princess Cruises--This line's most lavish health centers are the Grand Princess Plantation Spa, Golden Princess Lotus Spa, and Star Princess Lotus Spa (ship is scheduled to debut in February). These 9,612-sq.-ft. facilities include a swim-against-the-current lap pool, exercise machines, whirlpools, sauna, massage, aerobics room, outdoor track, and juice bar with seating for 34.

The Sun Princess, Dawn Princess, Sea Princess, and Ocean Princess have glass-walled high-tech gyms, aerobics area, saunas, and 11 treatment rooms. The spa pool appears to be suspended between two decks, and has two whirlpools nearby. The Crown Princess and Regal Princess each offer a health center with aerobics floor, weight machines, bikes, sauna, massage, steam room, and salon. The Royal Princess's spa has Lifecycles, 11-station multi-gym, two saunas, two massage rooms, and indoor whirlpool. The Pacific Princess has a small but well-equipped gym with ocean-view windows, massage rooms, and a salon.

The line offers Cruisercize, whereby passengers earn coupons redeemable for logo merchandise. All Princess spas are operated by Steiner.

* Radisson Seven Seas Cruises--The Judith Jackson Sea Spa aboard the Seven Seas Navigator and Seven Seas Mariner is operated by the author of The Magic Of Well Being. Treatments include Toning Thalassotherapy Bath featuring sea minerals and essential oils to firm, improve circulation, and detoxify. The Four Hand Massage provides the benefits of a massage by two therapists, working rhythmically. Both vessels have gyms with cycles, treadmills, rower, weight machine, and free weights, plus aerobics studio and fitness trainers. Sauna, steam room, and beauty salon are available. A jogging track and sports deck with golf cages provide outdoor options.

The spa aboard the Paul Gauguin is managed by Carita of Paris, whose famous clients include Catherine Deneuve, Ingrid Bergman, and Paloma Picasso. Guests can book an extensive range of regimens in the spa's marble-appointed reception room. Massage, thalassotherapy, aromatherapy, body wraps, facials, steam, and beauty treatments are available. In addition, a gym offers toning, body-building, and exercise machines. Noteworthy treatments include Anti-Stress Massage to relieve tension and the Draining Treatment for reducing cellulite.

The Diamond Spa aboard the Radisson Diamond, run by Steiner, offers aromatherapy, seaweed-/herbal-wrap, muscle massage, steam bath, plunge, and sauna; there is also a gym. The Song of Flower's spa, also run by Steiner, offers aromatherapy and massage, plus a small gym.

All ships feature heart-healthy menu selections.

* Royal Caribbean International--The Radiance of the Seas' Solarium is African-themed, with three life-sized stone elephants, a 15-foot waterfall, greenery, and piped-in sounds of chirping birds. It has a pool with counter-current and two whirlpools. Radiance Class spas measure 15,500 sq. ft. and feature 12 treatment rooms, salon, thermal suite with gentle steam, aromatic room, showers (tropical and fog), and sea-view relaxation area, plus aerobics studio and ocean-view gym with 18 treadmills, 10 Reebok recumbent cycles, four Reebok ridge-rocker Cycles, eight Reebok elliptical steppers, four Reebok body treks, free weights, multiple benches, stereo sound system, and televisions.

Vision Class vessels feature ocean-view health facilities (on Vision of the Seas, 9,478 sq. ft.) encompassing beauty salon, steam, sauna, nine treatment rooms (with showers, vanity, and adjustable massage couches), hydrotherapy room, and a room for physically challenged passengers; aerobics area for 35 participants with mirrored wall and wraparound windows; and gym with Lifecycles, Tectrix machines, and Cybex strength equipment stations. Additionally, themed solariums on each ship feature pool, two whirlpools, and relaxation areas under a Magrodome (retractable glass roof).

Spas on Voyager of the Seas and Explorer of the Seas are 16,100 sq. ft. with workout, aerobics, and spa facilities, in addition to 10,000 sq. ft. of solarium-themed relaxation with a pool and two whirlpools under a retractable dome. The ShipShape spa on Voyager Class ships encompasses a salon, sauna, steam, and shower areas, 14 multi-purpose treatment rooms (with showers, vanity, and adjustable massage couches), a relaxation area, hydrotherapy room, and a room for physically challenged guests. A gym provides Reebok machines, free weights, multiple benches, a stereo sound system, and televisions.

All Royal Caribbean vessels offer an array of fitness classes and sports activities, and participants earn ShipShape dollars redeemable for sports apparel. ShipShape dishes (low-fat) are featured for lunch and dinner.

* Royal Olympic Cruises--The Jade Spas on the Olympic Voyager and Olympic Explorer (scheduled to debut this year) each have more than 1,800 sq. ft. for massage, sauna, Turkish bath, scrubbing room, mud baths, Swiss showers, and facials. They incorporate gyms with multi-exercise equipment, steps, abdominal equipment, stationary bicycles, wall bars, and weights. Operated by Athens, Greece-based Flair Ltd., these Indian-themed spas highlight Ayurvedic, an ancient system of health promotion in India. The Stella Solaris offers the Daphne Spa with massage and other treatments, plus sauna, steam room, and gym.

* Seabourn Cruise Line--The Seabourn Pride/Spirit/Legend feature 2,691-sq.-ft. spas including gym with treadmills, step machine, bikes, rowers, multi-station weight machine, weight bench and free weights, aerobics studio, salon, steam, sauna, and massage rooms. The vessels also have an outdoor heated pool and three whirlpools.

The Spa Du Soleil aboard the Seabourn Sun (scheduled to be transferred to Holland America Line this spring) is 4,834 sq. ft., in Roman style. Facilities include outdoor heated lap pool, two whirlpools, gym with seven treadmills, two Stairmasters, free weights, weight benches, seven bikes, multi-station weight machines, salon, saunas, steam, relaxation area, six therapy rooms including dry float room, Rasul, and Cleopatra's Bath. Yoga classes and walks are among scheduled activities.

All the Seabourn spas are operated by Steiner. Low-fat dishes and personal trainers are available on each vessel.

* Silversea Cruises--Spas, on the small side in these intimate vessels, have been increased by 62 percent on the line's newer ships, the Silver Shadow and Silver Whisper, where the spa/gym/aerobics area measures 3,030 sq. ft.

Options are fitness classes, including yoga, salon treatments from hair care to paraffin pedicures, and spa treatments including massages, facials, and hydrotherapy. Special Mandara indulgences include a Hot Lava Rock Massage and a Javanese Honey Steam Wrap incorporating cinnamon, ginger, coffee, sea salt, and honey.

* Windstar Cruises--The Wind Surfs Wind Spa is 10,000 sq. ft. with ocean-view exercise area, aerobics room, sauna, pool, reception lobby with juice bar, salon, and six wet and dry treatment suites. Exercise options include step-aerobics, personal trainers, aqua-aerobics, body composition, yoga, and meditation. Treatments include Swedish, deep tissue, sports, aromatherapy, and other massages (including couples' massages), herbal body wraps, algae and fango body masks, body polishes, mineral baths, and aquameditation. A salon, like the spa, is operated by Steiner.

On the rest of the fleet, salons, sauna, and massage are available. All ships have gyms equipped with Nautilus and Lifecycle treadmills, stair climbers, bikes, rowers, dumbbells, and weight machines. Light and vegetarian selections developed by author Jeanne Jones are featured.

If you wish to partake in some spa pampering, be sure to heed the advice of Celebrity's spa manager: book early. In fact, in some cases you may be able to pre-purchase a spa package before sailing. Your travel agent will help you sort out the options. And if you have your heart set on a particular program or treatment, double-check with your travel agent and cruise line to ensure that your ship and sailing offer that option. Bon voyage!
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Author:Cruz, Georgina
Publication:Cruise Travel
Geographic Code:00WOR
Date:Jan 1, 2002
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