For the cruise feature in the October 2016 print edition of Recommend, we reached out to several travel advisors to get their take on the spa and wellness trends on board cruise lines. Here’s what they had to say.
What are some of the wellness and spa trends you are seeing cruise lines developing for passengers?
“Many cruise lines now have specific cabin categories geared just for those with an interest in spas.
- Celebrity – Canyon Ranch Spa Club with Aqua Class staterooms with dedicated Blu restaurant.
- MSC – Wellness experience by Technogym introduced this year and Aurea packages.
- NCL – Spa and thermal suite packages available for purchase as well as spa cabins and suites on board Breakaway class ships with unlimited access to the Thermal Suite.
- Viking Ocean Cruises – Snow grotto spa on board all ships.”
— Mara Hargarther, Dream Vacations Franchise Owner and Vacation Specialist, Ponte Vedra, FL
“I am seeing programs that remind people it is important to unplug and take a break from technology. Cruises are all about getting away and programs, like ‘Take Care of Your Selfie’ on Celebrity Cruises, are being offered to help people rejuvenate as well as provide treatments that correct some of the issues that tech can cause.” – Chris Caulfield, CruiseOne Franchise Owner and Vacation Specialist, Croton on Hudson, NY
“Cruise lines are adding more and more wellness and spa treatments to appeal to health-conscious individuals such as state-of-the-art fitness centers and wellness treatments such as acupuncture or spa treatments. Also, cruise lines are employing very well educated and trained staff for the services they provide. Clients receive care and guidance that they can utilize long after their cruise ends.”
– Jo Ann Williams, Cruises Inc. Independent Vacation Specialist, Manassas, VA
“Most of the cruise lines have specialized categories of rooms that offer unlimited access to the spa amenities, although an actual massage is an additional charge, but many times at a reduced rate.” – Debra Davis, Travel Professional, CruisesOnly
“Cruise lines are offering more and more accommodations for the spa-minded traveler, these are generally balcony or suite rooms that are spa themed and near the spa allowing for convenient access. Many include specific spa type enhancements from special robes to graduated discounts in the spa for treatments purchased.” – Christopher Festerman, Travel Professional, CruisesOnly
“This side of cruising is booming! Recognizing the want of a passenger to unplug and unwind is creating competitive pricing and amazing offerings. Some examples are incorporating the destinations into the types of spa offerings. Adults-only wellness areas, juice bars and healthy adult beverage offerings are making the experience memorable.” – Bridget Midgett, Customer Care Manager, World Travel Holdings
What are some of the best cruise lines for spa and wellness offerings and why?
“Steiner can be found aboard most of the contemporary lines as well as Crystal, Silversea and Windstar. CanyonRanch can be found aboard Celebrity, Cunard, Oceania and Regent. MSC offers the Aurea and Wellness experience category cabins aboard the MSC Seaside. Carnival has Cloud 9 spa cabins and suites. Costa features spa cabins and suites with the dedicated Samsara restaurant. In the luxury segment, Crystal offers ETRO designed amenities in staterooms.” – Mara Hargarther
“One of the best options is Celebrity Cruises because they have partnered with CanyonRanch, a leader in spa experiences with resorts around the world. The facilities on Celebrity Cruises reflect the Canyon Ranch spas in Las Vegas. Celebrity also has their Aqua Class cabins that include exclusive access to Blu, the specialty restaurant that offers what Celebrity calls ‘clean cuisine.’ Carnival is another great option since you can book an inside cabin and still have access to the spa and extra in-cabin amenities. This is different because on most cruise lines you need to book a balcony category in order to have spa access included in your cruise fare. This is a great option if you are on a budget yet still want to be pampered.” – Chris Caulfield
“Celebrity and Carnival have some of the best offers for spa lovers. Celebrity offers exclusive access to Blu restaurant, which offers very healthy cuisine in addition to the spa amenities. Carnival has Thalassotheraphy pools and Thermal suites with unlimited access, but only on ships that have the Cloud 9 Spa. Occasionally, cruise lines will offer a free spa treatment for one guest per room.” – Debra Davis
“In my opinion, Norwegian is at the top of the list in the main stream market for spa and wellness because their ships offer thermal suite access to all guests, whether or not they are booked in spa accommodation. Their larger, newer ships have a spa within a spa feeling to the expansive thermal suites and salt rooms being offered for about $170 for weeklong access per guest. Celebrity (Solstice class) and Royal Caribbean (Oasis class and newer) offer very comprehensive medi-spa features from botox and restaline to acupuncture and teeth whitening. Celebrity Aqua Class staterooms also offer unique dining experiences for their guests allowing for a fully realized wellness vacation. The procedures on both are supervised or performed by qualified professionals and are on par with shore side, metropolitan pricing. Luxury lines such as Oceania, Silversea and Cunard tend to have well-appointed spas with fewer treatment selections and smaller more intimate spaces allocated. Even the most discerning traveler will appreciate the personal attention given in these retreats while on board.” – Christopher Festerman
Are cruise passengers coming to you asking about spa and wellness offerings on board cruises and are they opting to go for a line that offers top-notch offerings?
“Those with well-known spa partnerships like Celebrity and Canyon Ranch are a great fit for spa lovers. I find that there is not a great awareness of cruise ship spas. Therefore, when I qualify a potential client I ask them if they enjoy the spa. If they do, and most do, this opens up the opportunity to discuss spa offerings. Like loyalty programs with cruise lines, spa guests are very loyal to spa brands.”
– Mara Hargarther
“I have clients who ask about and book cabins that have spa access included as part of the fare. Clients also ask about fitness facilities and classes. More and more people only take one vacation a year and they want to decompress as much as possible. Having quality spa and fitness options is very important to them.” – Chris Caulfield
“Yes, it is a high priority for clients who are interested in wellness and spa options. In fact, it is often second in importance after ports of call.” – Jo Ann Williams
“I have only had a few customers specifically ask for spa amenities, but those who ask pick cruise lines that specialize in spa services.”
– Debra Davis
“Absolutely. The cruise experience caters to the entire family being able to have a safe environment for the children, and allowing parents, and adult family members to relax, distress and detox. For the non-family travelers, ensuring the experience they want and top-of-the-line complimentary wellness classes such as hot yoga or barre, will help them feel less guilty when they are enjoying the world class culinary experiences onboard.“ – Bridget Midgett
How important is this market for you and how do you see it developing over the course of the next couple of years?
“As baby boomers age, there is more disposable income. Our clients prefer to spend their money on experiences over things. Some find a spa experience to be indulgent while other find it a necessity. Regardless of preference, we can fulfill this need on most ships very well. The spa segment of the cruise industry is expected to grow 10% annually over the next five years. We are happy to match our clients with a cruise that offers them the spa experience that will exceed their expectations.” – Mara Hargarther
“This is an important market because wellness options are only going to become more popular and desired. People’s lives are getting busier, and when on vacation it is their chance to pamper themselves and truly unwind and unplug. I see this as a growing segment in my cruise business.” – Chris Caulfield
“It is very important and it often becomes a special event during their cruise. For example, mother/daughter time, girl’s day, men grooming day for formal night or couple’s time together. Sometimes, my clients like to try something different that they would not ordinarily try at home, such as teeth-whitening, body wraps or a new hairstyle. My clients tell me when with a traveling companion, they motivate each other and have a standing meeting time to go the Fitness Center or participate in a fitness class. I believe this market will become more and more popular as we move into an increasingly health-conscious society. The trend toward a healthy lifestyle is growing exponentially and eventually healthy lifestyle options will be a ‘must have’ option when traveling.” – Jo Ann Williams
“I believe more and more people will request spa amenities as it becomes trendier in cruising and as cruise lines make improvements as to what they offer, becoming more appealing to the general public.” – Debra Davis
“I see continued expansion for these services aboard a cruise ship, the newer ships are already coming out with larger more comprehensive spa facilities. Clients are becoming more and more inquisitive on the treatments offered by their cruise line of choice. The potential for growth is limitless.” – Christopher Festerman
“This is going to boom! Our culture is moving toward health and wellness. An expansion I see are making more of the healthy activities mainstream, having onboard marathons or using more space for spin classes.” – Bridget Midgett