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Lynn Houghton and Catherine Beattie review the spas on Sea Dream Yacht Club and Silver Spirit, two smaller 'luxury' class cruise ships.

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Thai Spa on Sea Dream Yacht Club 
Sea Dream Yacht Club’s two luxury ships have the only fully accredited Thai spas at sea. Lynn Houghton joins Sea Dream II to see what all the excitement is about. 

Sailing on a small luxury ship is certainly on many cruise enthusiasts’ bucket list. Add in dipping into bijou ports of call that dot the Italian and French Riviera plus the opportunity to have a Thai massage and for spa lovers especially, this could be the voyage of a lifetime. 

It starts out on deck. The girls from the spa come out of the treatment rooms to give complimentary neck and shoulder massages to guests lying by the pool. Not long after, queues for the spa start, with eager, potential clients signing up for more than just the taster treatments. Discerning passengers on a Sea Dream Yacht Club cruise undoubtedly expect a high level of service and Sea Dream is truly a five-star product that strives to keep guests supremely happy. And with an almost 1 to1 staff to guest ratio, that service level is blissfully high. 

Having the only accredited Thai spas at sea brings kudos to any cruise line. The spa on Sea Dream II may not be the largest on a ship (120 square metres) but has five treatment rooms, a good-sized fitness centre (very popular with passengers) and also a full service salon – a significant offering for a ship that boasts only 52 cabins. The spa also stocks and uses premium brands, such as Aïny (an organic brand made from rare and sacred rare plants from the Andes and Amazon) that are a big hit with passengers. 

Being interested to experience the spa myself, I decide to try out a Thai massage. But it soon becomes apparent that my back can’t take the strain of the ‘strong’ pressure this entails – and boy, do I mean strong! My therapist suggests downgrading to an aromatherapy massage – a wise choice! Within minutes, I am falling asleep and she does a superior job on my neck muscles, really giving them a work out. I find it interesting that pyjamas are given out for a dry Thai massage or a Swedish deep tissue massage. A very comfortable option for the client and another USP for this spa. 

Vanessa Grosse, the spa manager, told me, ‘Being the only certified Thai spas at sea means we have an incredibly unique position in the industry. But we also have an exceptional variety of services on offer. Our therapists can also do massages up on deck or even on the beach in many Caribbean and Asian destinations. Our conch shell massage is one of the most popular at the moment. And passengers having facials enjoy some of the very best products available in the world. From Le Prairie (Switzerland) and Thalgo (France) to Aïny from the Amazon and Harnn from Thailand.’ 

Vanessa recommends the Asian blend massage, as a good introductory massage for those new to the spa, while the Thai heritage massage, using herbal poultice balls, is a good choice for overall relaxation. It is also essential for such clientele to have a salon offering a variety of services. I notice that a Shellac manicure and pedicure is priced at $115, which is not as expensive as one might expect. I also notice the steady stream of guests booking appointments, which can only mean they are receiving the pampering they expect. I would be surprised by anything less. 

To book a Sea Dream Yacht Club cruise visit or your travel agent. 

The Spa at Silversea on Silver Spirit 
Catherine Beattie enjoys a Swedish massage on board Silver Spirit, the newest and largest ship in the Silversea fleet. 

There can’t be many spas where you fall asleep before a treatment. But I managed to nod off in the spa’s cosy thermal suite after arriving early for my appointment. Lulled by the warmth and the gentle rocking motion of the ocean, it was impossible to stay awake! The Spa at Silversea is a quiet 8,300-square-foot sanctuary with floor to ceiling glass windows, nine treatment rooms and a thermal suite with heated ceramic loungers. Operated by Steiner, the spa offers a choice of indulgent facials and body therapies using mainly Elemis and La Thérapie treatments. Amenities include separate steam rooms and saunas, a private outdoor area with a large whirlpool and complimentary bar service and a private hammam chamber for Arabian style body scrub and cleansing rituals. Tooth whitening, men’s grooming, manicures, pedicures, waxing and a full range of hairdressing services are available in the adjoining hair and beauty salon. There’s also a small modern fitness complex and two studios for personal training sessions, nutritional consultations, Pilates and yoga classes.After waking me from my slumbers, therapist Naomi showed me to one of the treatment rooms and left me to disrobe and settle face down on the bed under a large white sheet. When she returned, she asked if I preferred a gentle, medium or firm massage and whether my neck, back or shoulders needed special attention.

Ostensibly the world’s most popular spa treatment, Swedish massage therapy evokes a tangible feeling of wellbeing. It relieves anxiety, stress and depression by releasing endorphins and other soothing chemical mediators. You can’t help but feel better after a session. Its long gliding strokes (always in the direction of blood returning to the heart) relax the muscle fibres and oxygenate the blood. As muscle toxins and knots are released, circulation and flexibility improves.

A study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2010 found that just one 45-minute session of deep-tissue Swedish massage decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol in blood and saliva and increased serotonin levels by almost a third. White blood cell numbers also increased, boosting the immune system, while there were less cytokine proteins involved in inflammation and allergic reactions.

Lying under a sheet, my feet were cleansed with a warm cloth and gently dried. One side of my body was uncovered, warm oil applied then massaged thoroughly with a series of long sweeping upward strokes followed by deeper muscle kneading to my legs, arms and back. The procedure was then repeated on the other side. The tension knots in my upper back and shoulders were given an painful circular vibrating massage, which Naomi carried out using her thumbs and fingers. Noticing my discomfort, she explained that loosening the knots would encourage the lymph system to flush out the build up of lactic acid and uric acid in the muscle tissues. This ‘no pain, no gain’ focus on my poor shoulders was the only part of the treatment I didn’t enjoy!

Halfway through, I was asked to turn over – a move that always makes me feel like a beached whale – but a sheet was tactfully held up to preserve my modesty as I settled myself onto my back. I was anointed with more fragrant warm oil and my limbs massaged from the front. My abdomen was also massaged but not my breasts. Fingers and toes received particular attention with each digit loosened and gently pulled until it clicked. The treatment ended with an awesome, ‘shivers of delight-inducing’ neck massage, with sweeping strokes from the base of the neck, décolletage and shoulders up into my head and scalp.

Leaving the spa, I felt refreshed and revitalised. My joie de vivre continued throughout the evening and beyond – with table tennis at midnight and a few circuits of the promenade deck before turning in. But I was back to being a sleepyhead next morning – if only there was a treatment that turned a night owl like me into a lark, I’d be the first to try it.

To book a Silversea cruise visit or your travel agent.


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