• Allot enough time. Basic massages are about 50 minutes. Even if you plan to zip in and out, you will want to get your 50 minutes worth, so be at the spa at least 20 minutes before your scheduled treatment.
Before your first spa appointment on a ship, you will be asked to fill out a form about your daily medications, as well as personal information about your stress levels and causes (which for me means I need to bring my reading glasses).
• Be ready for the hard sell. Don’t be surprised if your massage therapist turns pitch person for spa products after your treatment, making liberal use of the stress information you freely provided before the treatment.
The sales pitch may be a strong one, as spa employees have told me that they are under heavy pressure to sell high-priced products to the guests, for which the therapist also gets a cut. If you do not want to buy such products, resist the hard sell. I simply say “no thank-you,” which, on more than one occasion, I have repeated several times.
• Consider a couple’s massage. One of my favorite treatments is a massage for two, a romantic and soothing experience that my partner, Fran Golden, and I recently shared on Royal Princess.
On Princess Cruises’ newest ship, the expansive spa has been moved from the usual spot on a high deck to a location much lower and closer to the middle of the vessel. The spa entrance is near the Piazza, which is the ship’s hub of activity, including specialty restaurants and lounges.
The new spa design includes a large relaxation room (fee required) with a hydrotherapy pool, as well as a Turkish-style hamman, a sauna and a pair of waterbeds (all for mixed sexes). Spa employees said that treatment rooms lower on the ship don’t roll as much at sea, compared with spas on higher decks.
Massage treatment rooms on Royal Princess include villas with whirlpools (from $449 for 110 minutes for two), as well as two Royal Villas in the adult-only Sanctuary on a top outside deck, where couples can get an Exotic Couples Massage (from $449).
We chose a simpler couples massage in the spa ($269 for 50 minutes). They were full body treatments by two therapists on two tables that were side by side.
At the end of the session, the therapists deftly lifted our arms that were closest to each other and placed our hands together. It was done so smoothly that all of a sudden we noticed we were alone, holding hands, a romantic ending to a delightfully quiet hour.
David Molyneaux writes monthly about cruising. He is editor of TheTravelMavens.com