From the largest Japanese bath at sea to ancient Ayurveda therapies, cruise lines are borrowing from ancient Asian practices to promote relaxation on board.
Cruise lines now have a plethora of spa treatments on board so you can take a cruise and disembark a brand new person – quite literally. They now offer Botox, cellulite reduction and collagen injections. But for those who prefer to relax with traditional therapies, there are herbal spa remedies, such as Thai massages, Japanese baths and shiatsu.
These ancient rituals have been practiced across Asia for hundreds of years to rejuvenate and relieve ailments. Cruise Passenger set out to discover who is doing what to soothe the mind, body and soul.
One of Australia’s favourite lines, Princess Cruises, revamped Diamond Princess two years ago, and part of the rejuvenation was the inclusion of the world’s largest Japanese bath at sea. Diamond Princess’ Izumi bath house emulates traditional Japanese thermal baths, or onsen. Izumi has an open-air hydrotherapy pool with a pagoda-style roof. Inside, there are separate areas for men and women with cascading showers of hot water, or utaseyu, to relieve muscular aches, and the Lotus Spa, which has a thermal suite and a number of therapies to choose from – you can be wrapped in seaweed infused with rosemary and pine. princess.com.au
On the new Genting Dream, launched in November, there are two spas – the Crystal Life Western Spa and Crystal Life Asian Spa. One of the biggest attractions in the Crystal Life Asian Spa is a reflexology centre, which is open to families. There are 100 chairs spread around a tranquil area where guests can have expert treatments from reflexologists. The spa also offers traditional Asian massages such as Balinese and Japanese shiatsu. dreamcruiseline.com
P&O Cruises Australia
On P&O Australia’s five ships, the Elemis spas offer a range of massages, facials and other therapies. One of the specialties is the Thai herbal poultice massage, which uses special herbs to promote relaxation and rejuvenation. The technique involves the herbs being wrapped in cotton and steam-heated to allow the oils and aromas to be released. The poultices are then applied to pressure points on the body to ease tension. pocruises.com.au
Canyon Ranch on Celebrity Cruises has specialty Asian treatments designed to promote healing, reduce chronic pain and restore your flow of energy (chi). The treatments include reiki, a therapy designed to restore your energy flow, and acupuncture, which uses needles on your pressure points to help motion sickness, arthritis, tension headaches, tendonitis and fatigue. Canyon Ranch also offers shirodhara, a form of ayurveda therapy in which herb-infused oils are poured over your forehead and “third eye” to de-stress the mind and emotions, while forearms, hands, lower legs and feet are massaged in traditional ayurvedic style. Also on the spa menu is an ayurvedic oil massage called abhyanga, which combines touch therapy with aromatherapy. celebritycruises.com
Norwegian Cruise Line
At the Mandara Spa on board Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) ships, guests can indulge in a rejuvenating Elemis Japanese Silk Booster Facial, which uses natural Asian silk protein to enhance your skin. NCL also offers the Elemis Japanese Silk Eye Zone Therapy, which uses the same proteins to oxygenate and increase cellular renewal to banish those little bags under your eyes. ncl.com
Like Celebrity Cruises, Oceania has partnered with the Canyon Ranch Spa, offering Asian spa treatments such as hot-stone or Thai massage. Your therapist will use smooth, rounded basalt stones that are gently heated and used as an extension of his or her hands. The weight and heat of the stones, combined with oils, penetrates muscle tissue which induces deep relaxation without overheating your body. oceaniacruises.com
All MSC ships offer the Aurea Spa, based on a traditional Balinese spa, and the line’s newest ship, MSC Magnifica, offers the exclusive Aurea Papaveris, a slimming and cellulite treatment using a full body mask of poppy flowers, grape seeds and sea salt, followed by a massage. MSC Magnifica also offers an exotic Himalayan massage, which includes being rubbed with essential oils and Himalayan fossil salts. It is believed that when the salts are heated, they release ions which create a sense of peace and deep relaxation. Meanwhile, the Tian di Bamboo massage uses many aspects of Chinese medicine with healing techniques from Tibet. msccruises.com.au
If you want to truly immerse yourself in an Asian experience, Aqua Expeditions’ Aqua Mekong, which sails along the Mekong River offers a range of traditional treatments. Try the Khmer massage, which involves gentle stretching and deep kneading. The Aqua Mekong spa also offers Vietnamese aromatherapy, which incorporates local ingredients such as highland coffee or organic lemongrass. The river cruise line offers a full spa menu using local therapists who are all English-speaking and will perform holistic, restorative and energising treatments. aquaexpeditions.com