November 2, 2000
Norwegian Cruise Line’s announcement that it would be replacing Steiner Leisure, Ltd. -- the Bahamas-based company that basically has a lock on managing most on-ship cruise spas -- with Hawaii-based Mandara Spa -- is a real departure from the norm.
Steiner is currently the undisputed leader in the onboard spa industry, counting among its clients cruise lines like Carnival, Costa, Cunard, Celebrity, Disney, Holland America, Princess, Radisson, Renaissance and Royal Caribbean. Officially, the company says, it handles spa services on 104 cruise vessels representing 26 cruise lines.
While there is some across-the-board similarity to all Steiner spas -- massages, manicures, hair salons and the oft-complained-about aggressive staffer sales efforts to move its Elements line of personal care products, the line claims some innovative highlights:
* Celebrity’s Millennium’s 25,000 square foot spa, complete with indoor-outdoor solarium, is the biggest in cruisedom
* Disney Magic’s Tropical rainforest aromatherapy steam room and sauna
* The introduction of Thai massages (you lie on mats on the floor) on Royal Caribbean’s Explorer
But Norwegian’s new partnership with Mandara Spa is intriguing. Mandara’s spa at the Datai resort on Langkawi Island in Malaysia recently was voted the second best resort spa in the world in Conde Nast Traveler's readers' poll of the World's Best. The company is primarily known for operating resort spas in Bali, Thailand, Malaysia, The Maldives, Micronesia, Tahiti, and Hawaii (as well as Las Vegas’ swanky new Paris Resort). Its selection by Norwegian, which is obviously working hard to differentiate itself from its homogeneous competition with, for instance, the introduction of the Freestyle Cruising program, offers spa-savvier cruise passengers -- many of whom cite the quality of the fitness and treatments facilities as a determining factor in choosing a cruise line -- a new choice.
According to Norwegian, it’s deal with Mandara enables it to introduce, fleetwide beginning January 1, 2001, some unique features, including:
* In-spa treatments for couples
* In-stateroom spa treatments
* Mandara Spa signature service standards
* Exotic and unique Asian Spa Treatments
* Blend of Eastern and Western spa and salon treatments unique to NCL
* Poolside and on-deck massages during port days
* Massage and de-stress treatments on the beach during private island visits in the Caribbean and South Pacific.