Any cruise ship worth her sea salt now has a stand-alone spa area where guests are pampered and pummelled to the nth degree.
HIGH LIFE ON THE OCEAN WAVES
It is an essential part of the experience and a big change from yesteryear when staff from the ship's beauty salon gave occasional spa treatments in vacant cabins.
Large dedicated spas on cruise ships are now generously perfumed and decorated in calming tones with steam rooms, saunas, jacuzzis, change rooms, and, in some cases, outdoor areas where spa-goers sunbake before, after, and in between treatments while sipping healthy juices and herbal teas.
The advent of spas at sea has come as passengers take cruise holidays to recharge body and spirit while also having a fun time.
Initially, it was cruise ships with luxury reputations which established spas but now, just about every cruise line operates spas, as pampering treatments are as much in demand at sea as in hotels across the world.
There is no shortage of treatments, with reflexology, shiatsu and deep-tissue work vying for attention with four-handed massages, detox wraps, and couples' pampering rituals.
Silversea's new flagship, Silver Spirit, has so much choice in its roomy spa that it is hard to decide which treatment to have.
Should one settle on a chocolate, vanilla, orange or tangerine scrub to exfoliate the skin to smooth perfection, or a Thai-influenced massage where herb-infused drumsticks pummel tight muscles into submission before limbs are seemingly stretched extra centimetres.
After treatments, the guests often head to the hamman (wet area) for heated relaxation beds, sauna and steam rooms, or to the hot tub with its ocean views. The nearby gym has rooms for daily yoga, Pilates and stretch classes.
Silver Spirit's spa also offers Botox and similar treatments.
Aboard Crystal Symphony, one of the Crystal Cruises' fleet, guests find therapists whose magic fingers ease nagging aches and pains in the ship's feng-shui (a Chinese balance and harmony philosophy) spa that is infused with great energy and calming treatment rooms.
Here, well-travelled guests find massages influenced by Thai, Ayurvedic (Indian) and shiatsu (Japanese) therapies.
Costa Cruises and Celebrity Cruises see the onboard spa as a destination in itself, with specially designed cabins giving easy access to the spa area. There are also "spa" restaurants that serve food with a healthy low-calorie count.
Cunard also has an impressive two-deck spa on Queen Mary 2, while spas on Regent Seven Seas' cruise ships are known for sculpting, rejuvenating and holistic treatments.
River cruising ships have also introduced spa treatments, with smaller dedicated spa areas.
River Princess, one of Uniworld's European fleet, sails the romantic Moselle, Rhine and Main rivers through Germany, with a busy massage therapist onboard who gives stressed passengers a neck and shoulder massage as they check in for their cruise. On River Princess, a foot massage is always in demand when guests return from sightseeing at river ports where walking on ancient cobblestones in medieval villages is no mean feat.
Passengers need to book spa appointments early, especially on sailing days.