Image: Disney Magic's Villa Spa Retreat
Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line
Disney Magic's Villa Spa Retreat
By Anita Dunham-Potter Travel columnist
updated 5/27/2009 12:26:03 PM ET 2009-05-27T16:26:03

When you’re sailing the seas, surrounded by nothing more than serene ocean waves it’s tough to get into a more relaxed state of mind. But if ultimate tranquility is what you seek, then head to the ship’s spa. Most ship spas offer classic massages and facials, but some spas stand out from the rest and feature soothing treatments and striking venues that are truly unique.

Here are the top five cruise ship spa experiences.

Celebrity Solstice AquaSpa
The two-story AquaSpa and fitness center is an integral part of the Celebrity Solstice where the goal is to create a healthy spa-resort fitness feeling. The Solarium indoor pool is among the prettiest pools at sea with waterfalls and dancing water fountains. Before and after treatments guests can lounge with sea views in the Relaxation Room that offers comfy and plush wicker ottomans or the spa’s Persian Garden that offers warm marble lounges to laze on. The spa offers a wide array of treatments, but acupuncture therapy is the highlight and is very popular among returning guests.

Adjacent to the spa are 130 AquaClass staterooms, which offer unlimited access to the spa facilities and come equipped with an amazing five-head Hansgrohe “shower tower” that offers a waterfall showerhead and side jets.

Costa Serena Samsara Spa
Costa Serena boasts the largest spa-and-health facility at sea: the 23,000-square-foot Asian-inspired Samsara Spa. The relaxation begins the moment you enter the door as the staff welcomes you in Asian style with Namaste, a Hindi greeting offered with hands in a prayer position and a quick bow forward.

The treatment offerings include a huge thalassotherapy pool, rock sauna, aromatic Turkish bath, VIP Treatment Suite and Oriental Deluxe House — to name just a few. Many treatments are ayurvedic, i.e., they are based on ancient, holistic healing practices from India that aim to balance body and soul. Every treatment begins with a shanty foot-cleansing ritual then lingers through a series of relaxing and revitalizing attentions. Before and after treatments, guests are encouraged to relax with a cup of tea in the Japanese Tea Garden or in the winter garden solarium, which has comfy loungers and canopied beds with sea views and relaxing music.

Spa junkies can book one of the 99 Samsara Spa staterooms, which comes with treatments and unlimited visits to the thermal suite.

Cunard Queen Mary 2 Canyon Ranch SpaClub
The 20,000 square foot Canyon Ranch SpaClub onboard Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 is both spacious and luxurious even surpassing land-based spas. The only spa at sea affiliated with the world-renowned Canyon Ranch, it comes with 24 treatment rooms and a staff of 51 certified health and wellness experts — the best therapists afloat.

SpaClub’s goal is to inspire and motivate guest’s healthiest intentions into action. Fitness instructors conduct daily group and private fitness, yoga and tai chi classes for passengers. Additionally, “healthy living experts” will offer on-board lectures and workshops addressing lifestyle change, health and medical issues, stress management, smoking cessation, healthy aging and disease prevention — all in the quest for healthy change.

Every feature of the SpaClub, from the spectacular views offered by the wraparound windows in the full-service salon, to the beautifully appointed locker rooms, is enhanced by sea air and gorgeous scenery. The spa’s Aqua Therapy Centre is impressive: an amazing thalassotherapy pool with a deluge waterfall, a whirlpool, and neck-massage fountains. There are reclining lounge airbeds, a deluge shower, wall-mounted body jets and floor-mounted air tubes.

The Thermal Suite has both herbal and Finnish Saunas, an ice fountain, two reflexology basins that massage tired feet, and an aromatic steam room. The herbal sauna has a unique Moorish design, with individual arched areas for each person using the room.

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Disney Magic Vista Spa
The Disney Magic’s 11,000 square-foot Vista Spa includes 11 treatment rooms with abundant treatment offerings. In addition, there’s a tropical rain forest retreat and relaxation room with heated lounges to sooth tired muscles.

Find nirvana in the Vista Spa’s “spa villas”. You won’t find these on any other cruise ship. These three Mediterranean-inspired villas come complete with an indoor spa treatment suite which is connected to a private outdoor veranda with personal hot tub, open air shower and luxurious chaise lounge. Indulge in packages that incorporated a long dip in the Jacuzzi, a 55-minute massage, and a relaxing post-treatment tea time all while watching the waves — complete bliss!

Norwegian Pearl South Pacific Spa
Norwegian Pearl’s South Pacific Spa, operated by Mandara Spas, is the perfect place to unwind and get pampered. The spa features 20 treatment rooms, 3 of which are designed for couples and offers everything from massages and manicures, to teeth brightening and Botox!

The spa also has separate men and women’s saunas, aromatic steam rooms, plunge bath, hydro baths, and hot tub. The unisex relaxation room offers heated chaises and plush rattan lounges affording endless sea views. The best part is the huge thalassotherapy pool, which combines heat and saltwater for a delightfully relaxing soak.

Sit back and relax and get ready to be pampered at sea. Who knows you may disembark your cruise feeling like a new person.

Sound off! Do you have a comment, an idea, a complaint or a problem for Anita to solve? Send her an e-mail and you might find yourself in her next column. And check out her blog, ExpertCruiser.com.

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