Saturday, March 27, 2010

Ship spa may not be so relaxing after all

You experienced cruisers may be well aware of what a racket the on-board spa can be, but I was surprised to read this entry in the USA Today Cruise Log. The reporter and each of the commenters complained about the services being overpriced to begin with, pressure to upgrade services, and harassing technicians insisting they purchase product after product. Some excerpts from the article and comments:
"Our spa experience was particularly ... stressful, which frankly defeats the purpose of going to a spa. Staffers were disorganized (didn't reserve the treatment properly, charged more money than I was quoted, mixed me up with another passenger, then gave me a hard product sell afterward). Ultimately the spa manager did refund the disputed amount but she was snarky and unpleasant. I was so disgusted I decided to skip other treatments I'd planned to book."
"I have been subjected to the hard sell in some form or another every time I have used the Spa services on any cruise ship. now I avoid them like the plague. They are not interested in making you look better. it's all about the sales figures. They prey on people who have a hard time saying "No Thank You" and I have never left the Spa without a really bad taste in my mouth. They take what should be a pleasant experience and destroy it."
"On boarding day, I got caught up in the excitement and booked two spa treatments on two different days. The pedicure I got during the first one was wonderful and fairly priced, so no complaints there. However, the therapist was sooooooo aggressive with the hard-sell on the products that it really took away from the whole relaxation vibe of being in a spa. I ended up cancelling the second treatment scheduled two days later because I just didn't want to be bothered having to find 20 different ways to say "no thank you" again."
"On a Carnival Cruise recently my wife WON a 1/2 price facial at one of the talks on the ship. She booked it and was given a nice facial, then came the hard sell on skin care products she MUST have for her skin. She was polite and told them no thanks, when she was pressed more she tried to tell them she would have to check with her husband first before commiting to this purchase (about $200 more!) . The spa girl told her that is NOT fair to her to be restricted by me like that , it was my wifes vacation also. That made my wife mad and she left quickly. She did not want $200 worth of over priced lotions to start with."
Since I had committed not to spend hours in line this year, I thought I may hit up the spa for the specials they had advertised in the daily newsletter. But getting a hard sell doesn't sound like a fun way to spend a few hours, so I'll skip it. Anyone have similar (or dissimilar) cruise spa experience to share?


  1. I had a similar experience. I booked a mani\pedi, facial & massage. My massage was ok, but the room was not very soundproof. I could hear people walking & talking up and down the hall outside of the treatment room and in the room next to us (even with the babbling book spa music on). My facial was ok, but had the same noise issues & the hard sale issues. She tried to tell me $300+ worth of skin care products. The last 10 min seemed to be reserved for the 'sale'. I had to tell her NO several times. My mani\pedi was such that I could have done it myself. I would recommend the spa if you are prepared for the 'sale' push and ok with noise in the treatment room

    Laurie B

  2. From experience but not with Carnival, I always booked some type of massage treatment. It is true that after the treatment they start telling you, you need this or that and we recommend this and that and is worth a lot of money, but I always say no thanks or I'll think about it. They do try but if you are firm is ok. I have never bought anything from them and I still enjoy a good massage.

    All of this was with Royal and Norwegian so I can't talk about Carnival but that is my general experience.

  3. I have been on 3 cruises (2 with Cunard - which is owned by Carnival, 1 with Holland America), and I booked a massage and/or facial each time. Two out of four treatments, they did try to sell me something (once on Cunard, the second on Holland America)...each time, I did buy it. First time because I didn't know better to say "no," and wow, it was pricey! Second time, it was because wow, these products really ARE amazing, and my husband and I could really use it! And we did. So, we didn't mind spending the dough, and the products are lasting us a looong time!

    Given, all of these products are by Elemis, and once when my husband and I got a massage "on land" where the spa used these same products, we got the same hard sell, but we said a "no, thank you," and they were okay with that.

    I work as an esthetician for a living, and I can vouch that a majority of spas, by sea or land, will try to sell you products (hard sell or not). I'm one who will talk about the products I believe in, but will *not* push hundreds of dollars worth of products on you. But it IS the nature of the business, and I agree that it's a relief (even for the therapist!) finding a place that doesn't push the hard sell. It's one reason why I left one spa recently, and a partial determination factor in where I decide to work.

  4. Thanks for sharing! I love spa but with all experience that you had I prefer to skip this time :)

  5. Keep in mind too, that the spa is NOT owned by Carnival. It is a separate company all together. This is another reason they push products. But you can always say, No.. or I'll think about it. Don't let their "selling" products turn you away. Best Buy tries to get you to buy stuff too don't forget. its all in the salesmenship.

    I love the spa, I try to get atleast one treatment every cruise I go. I may just get a massage this time :)

  6. It depends how do you want to be treated at SPA. I had really good moments with massages and baths in the SPA saloons.