“Whatever you do, make sure you spend a day at the spa in the hydrotherapy area.”
It was the single, very definite piece of advice that the Holland America representative gave me over the phone the day before I left for my cruise aboard the ms Eurodam.
I made a note of her advice, then put it out of my mind. I have never been a pampered-type of girl. I get the $6 hair cut, have owned the same tube of mascara for about 5 years and would much rather go shopping for a new pair of sweatpants than a dress. So it may come as no surprise that, not only have I never been to a spa, but I’ve never gotten a massage or manicure.
Aboard the ms Eurodam, however, I was given the opportunity to check out the hydrotherapy area and get a spa treatment as long as I shared my experience with the readers of Kaleidoscopic Wandering. With a deal like that, how could I refuse?
I am now a spa-pampered girl, and I’m happy to report that my experience was amazing. The spa aboard the ms Eurodam, Greenhouse Spa, is run by an independent contractor. It encompasses a fitness center, hair salon, hydrotherapy pool and relaxation room, 11 treatment rooms, two couples treatment rooms and two rooms for facials.
My day at the spa started with a dip in the hydrotherapy pool, which is just slightly warmer than body temperature. There is a high-pressure jet bath in the middle of the pool, and along one side is a lounging bench submerged in the water. It was designed by chiropractors and is supposed to take the pressure off of muscles and joints, but I think it’s designed for someone about 5-8 inches taller than me, so the bench was actually a bit uncomfortable.
Following the hydrotherapy pool, I spent a healthy half hour on a heated ceramic chair. These were also designed for someone taller than me, but they were so warm, and the view from the room was right out over the ocean, that I didn’t care. In addition to the chairs, there was a dry misting shower in the relaxation room. Four scents—citrus, eucalyptus, mint and peppermint—are alternated throughout the day in the aromatic shower.
These three experiences—the hydrotherapy pool, relaxation chairs and steam showers—make up the hydrotherapy package that was highly recommended to me prior to my departure. To me, $40 for the day seems a bit steep for these experiences, but in comparison to the prices for the other spa services, it’s a fantastic deal. So I also agree that people on the ms Eurodam would be wise to hand over the money for at least a miniature spa experience.
Now thoroughly loosened up from the hydrotherapy experience, I headed in for my spa appointment. My treatment? A 75-minute aroma spa seaweed massage. The room was small and comfortable with warm lighting and soft, ambient music. I got undressed, settled onto the massage table and realized with satisfaction that, for the next hour and 15 minutes, all attention was going to be on making me feel amazing.
My masseuse, Ann, placed a warm, scented mask over my eyes, so my treatment was entirely olfactory and sensory. It started with a warm foot massage, and then my entire body was exfoliated to help increase my circulation. Following the exfoliation, Ann covered my whole body with algae, which was cold, slippery and wet. I was exceptionally chilly laying on the table, but then she wrapped me up in an aluminum-like blanket, which made me feel like a baked potato. On top of that she stacked towels until I was snug and toasty. And then I baked for 25 minutes.
The seaweed mixture penetrates the blood stream and is especially good for people with arthritis. Ann told me after my treatment that the effects of a standard massage last for 30 days, whereas the effects of a seaweed wrap last for 60 days because of that deep absorption of the algae mixture that helps balance the alkaline in the bloodstream.
Following the wrap, I took a warm shower, then for the next half hour, Ann gave me a scalp, shoulder and deep-tissue back massage with grape seed oil. As cliche as it sounds, I felt like I was melting. Everything in my body was so soft and pliable. The music was quiet and almost white sound in the background.
And before I knew it, my treatment was over. I could feel a difference in my shoulders—must less stressed and generally relaxed all over. At this point, most clients enjoy a cup of fresh juice or cool water in the relaxation room for awhile before returning to cruise life.
If you visit the Greenhouse Spa on the ms Eurodam, you can be sure you’re treated by a professional. Everyone on staff has attended 2-5 years of massage school and is qualified and certified. They all attend class at a training academy in London before they are hired for cruise ship work.
So how was it? Overall, the experience was incredibly relaxing. It was interesting to try something that was so new to me in every aspect. It’s been just slightly more than 30 days since my spa wrap, and I can’t say with any certainty that I’m still feeling its effects, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t pleasant at the time. In fact, I would consider getting another seaweed wrap or massage.
But I’m still pretty cheap when it comes to pampering myself, and I can’t imagine paying the approximately $200 price tag that came with the experience. So … spa treatment? Yes. Spa treatments for the prices they’re marked? Probably not.
My cruising experience was paid for by the International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association as part of the 2010 conference at sea scholarship and my spa experience was paid for by Holland America, but all opinions are my own.