Turn your knotted muscles over to a Thai herbal poultice massage and feel the tension evaporate. Soften crow’s feet and forehead, frown and smile lines with dermal filler or targeted wrinkle treatments. Leave up to eight inches behind in a treatment that firms, tones and detoxifies – and come home slimmer, softer, glowing and gorgeous.
The next time the ladies in the family or the girlfriends in the club decide to book a spa getaway, consider Carnival Cruises and its Cloud 9 Spa. It’s every bit as affordable as a land-based spa’cation with the added bonuses of breathtaking ocean views, gourmet-level dining, a pack-once-but-visit-multiple-destinations itinerary, and cutting-edge spa treatments – treatments that typically reach the cruise ships before they hit land.
“A spa getaway aboard a cruise ship takes you back to the days before husbands and babies came along,” said Amy Shelly, Carnival Breeze’s Cloud 9 spa manager. “It’s a nice way to restore yourself, invest in your friendships, enjoy a few vacation-friendly treatments.
“And no one need be the wiser,” she added.
With 24 ships in its fleet, Carnival has a ship going somewhere year-round: the Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, Alaska, Hawaii, Canada, New England, Pacific Islands, New Zealand, the Panama Canal. All ships have a spa but the luxe pampering oasis that is the Cloud 9 Spa is found aboard Breeze, Splendor, Dream, Magic, Sunshine and Carnival’s soon-to-debut Vista.
One of the largest of these is located on Carnival Breeze, which sails out of Miami until May when the ship repositions to Galveston to offer seven-day Caribbean cruises. Spread over two floors and covering 21,000 square feet, it offers sweeping views of the sea, a calming color palette and pleasing aromatherapy. It is a place whose sole intent is to coddle and indulge, help you disconnect and surrender to healing ministrations.
“As women, we’re so good at looking after everyone else, but looking after ourselves is the one thing we don’t do,” said Shelly. “Our spa offers that space to look after yourself, to be completely relaxed and at peace.”
The spa’s Thermal Suite, with its heated chaise lounges, herbal steam and sauna grottos and tropical shower, will help in the journey to tranquility. Dip into the warm Thalassotherapy pool for the healing benefits of a bubbling spring. The Relaxation Room is the ship’s most perfect quiet space where you can sink into cushy seating, read a book, sip herbal tea or refreshing fruited water and slip into your Zen zone.
Women who want to make their spa appointments together can pre-book up to seven days prior to their cruise, but these requests can also be accommodated once on board. The spa has treatment rooms for mom/daughter and small groups of girls who want to enjoy the experience together. You can even have libations delivered from the cocktail bar on the Serenity deck.
“Here come the margaritas and into your treatment room you go,” said Shelly.
To get the most from this sybaritic retreat, take the spa tour offered on Embarkation Day. This personalized, guided tour – a show and tell with models and demos – is a great time to make connections with the therapists and choose your indulgences.
Making the experience even more alluring are Carnival spa suites and spa staterooms, serene havens that provide direct access to the spa. This means there is no tromping from the far reaches of the ship in robe and slippers to reach the spa, but rather a short stroll down a private corridor or a quick zip in a private elevator. But be forewarned: These cabins are snapped up fast and should be booked as early as possible.
It’s not hard to understand their appeal. Spa suites and spa staterooms have a list of come-hither amenities: unlimited access to the spa, thermal suites and Thalassotherapy pool; priority spa appointments with pre-cruise concierge consultation; two free fitness classes (yoga or Pilates); exclusive Elemis Spa products (shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, body lotion); comfy Cloud 9 Spa bathrobes and slippers. Personal fitness bands are in the room for guest use.
One of the nicest perks of these particular cabins is the gift of a customized scrub, either sugar or salt – your choice. The Carnival Breeze is the only ship in the fleet with a scrub bar where you can choose your own herbal blend: lavender, chocolate, eucalyptus, ginger. The spa mixologist will stir up your scrub and you can take to the spa’s tropical shower or to your cabin or bring it home for a little lift when life stresses you out.
Girlfriends adventure guide to the perfect Cloud 9 spa day
·Begin with a massage – Thai Herbal Poultice, Elemis Aroma Stone or Spa Seaweed, Bamboo – and relax, unwind and drift away.
·Let your skin glow and feel great throughout the cruise with a facial: Bliss Triple Oxygen Treatment, Elemis Oxydermy, La Therapie Hydra-Lift Facial D’Excellence.
·Go for fun and funky with a Fire and Ice mani and pedi that includes a massage with hot stones and cooling marine mask to stimulate circulation.
·Have a blowout, straight or volume.
Said Shelly: “The first sea day is a cruise elegant night so after you spa day, just pop into your cabin, get into your clothes and have a fun evening out.”
Adventure gear to take along
Packing for a cruise is all about versatile pieces that can be layered but look good on their own, that keep your skin from burning on island excursions but also chase the chill away in the ship’s sometimes overly air-conditioned public rooms.
Cragghopper’s National Geographic NosiLife Long-Sleeve Base Tee for women ($45) is such a piece. A key wardrobe component for hot-climate conditions, this wash-and-wear, lightweight and long-sleeved tee is cool and comfortable and does stylish double duty as a base layer or casual cover-up.
Insect-repellent and quick-drying, the tee offers exceptional moisture management in the most humid of conditions. It is made of NosiLife Insect Shield polyester cotton elastane jersey – in other words, super soft and skin-protective – and has a scoop neck that flatters your décolletage and a shapely silhouette. It comes in seaworthy colors ashen mist, sea salt and sunset.
Carnival’s Cloud 9 Spa also includes a full gym with treadmills and weight training, stair climbing and rowing machines, as well as a beauty salon with complete hair and nail services, men’s barber/grooming area and teeth-whitening services. Medi-Spa Services are FDA-approved. All spa treatments are tax- and duty-free.
The new Carnival Vista, set to debut in May 2016, will be the cruise line’s largest and most innovative ship to date and will feature a Cloud 9 Spa (very similar to Breeze with many of the same fabulous features), plus the first IMAX Theater on a cruise ship, a SkyRide, the line’s first onboard brewery and first raft-riding water tube slide and more. Vista marks Carnival’s return to Europe in three years with a series of 18 Mediterranean cruises from Barcelona to Athens, May through October. It will then offer year-round six- and eight-day Caribbean cruises from Miami.
Information: Carnival Cruises, 800-764-7419.