Launching on Caribbean Princess, which debuts in April, and Sapphire Princess, which sails its inaugural in June, Jeff Kohl, director of spa operations for the cruise line, says the new approach – a test program at this point – aims to "differentiate our spas." In addition to designing the facility and the treatment menus, the company will also hire and train its staffers. The company will continue to maintain its concessionaire relationship with Steiner Leisure, the dominant spa operator in the cruise industry, for facilities onboard its other vessels.
Princess isn't embarking on this project completely alone. The cruise line has created exclusive-at-sea partnerships with cosmetic manufacturers. These include Phytomer (specializing in marine-based cosmetics, such as seaweed wraps), Carita Paris (offering hair care products) and CreativeSpa (supplying manicure- and pedicure-related ingredients). The manufacturers will also be part of the staff training process. Employees of these two salons will be hired by Princess and will be offered standard spa staffer at-sea contracts.
Specifically, how will the in-house versions of Princess' Lotus Spa on Caribbean Princess and Sapphire Princess be different from the company's Steiner-affiliated Lotus Spas?
*Treatment menus will feature, in addition to traditional services like facials and massages, more exotic-than-usual at-sea spa fare (inspired by leading land-based resorts). For instance, a manicure may include a hand/lower arm seaweed wrap. A pedicure could also feature an aromatherapy wrap.
*Princess will be incorporating the spa into other areas of the ship. Kohl says, for example, that the ships' food and beverage departments – which already, as a rule, offer healthy choice items on dining menus, will provide in-spa nibbles that will raise awareness of light-n-healthy eating options. Spa products, all of which will be exclusive to Princess Cruises, will be sold in the ship's shops (as well as in the facility's own boutique). Pairing up with the entertainment division, passengers can, among other options, take a yoga class while accompanied by a live string quartet or engage in pool aerobics to the tunes of a Caribbean steel drum band. Ship photographers will offer before-and-after services to those opting for makeover treatments.
*In a first for the industry, the spas on Sapphire and Caribbean Princess will offer advance on-line booking for some appointments (though non-web-friendly folk should know that some treatment options and times will be set aside for onboard sign-up).