spa therapy

There's no better time than when you're on a cruise to indulge in a spa treatment. But what should you choose? With an extensive menu of options at most onboard spas, it's hard to pick the best spa treatment for you.

If you have sensitive skin, have a low tolerance for pain or goo or don't get to a spa often, we find it's best to go with the classics. The treatments we've listed below can be found in most cruise line spas. If you're an experienced spa-goer, like to try unusual things and have a ton of onboard credit, you could go with a more exotic treatment. (For something more unusual, check out our list of 5 wacky spa treatments you can find on a cruise.)

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Here are our picks for the five best spa treatments you can book on a cruise.

stone massage

1. Hot Stone Massage

These massages, where the practitioners use hot stones on your body to release tension and ease muscle stiffness, live up to their billing; there's a reason why they've become a staple on almost every cruise ship line. Choose this treatment if you like massages that are less about working out the kinks and more about relaxing. Deep pressure aficionados might be bored.

Spa Cruise Reviews

2. Thai Poultice Massage

Relatively new to cruise ships, Thai poultice massages incorporate natural herbs and spices like prai, turmeric, lemongrass and kaffir lime, which are designed to relax and invigorate you. These ingredients are steamed and wrapped in a cheesecloth-like fabric to make a compress, which is then rubbed into pressure points. The result is a massage that really gets at trouble spots, coupled with amazing smells. You'll leave feeling like jelly.

spa facial

3. Spa "Combos"

When you can't pick just one treatment, check your daily ship bulletin for special "combo" deals. These packages, usually sold on port days, often give you three 20-minute mini-treatments for $99, which is less than you'd pay for a regular offering. Just don't expect the full spa treatment, as these mini-treatments are often done in the salon instead of the spa. Heck, at that price, why not go twice?

6 Best Cruise Ship Spas

4. Ginger Lime Scrub

Want your skin to feel as soft as the day you were born? Go for an exfoliation treatment, billed on your cruise spa menu as a "scrub" or a "glow" (but not a wrap, as those are completely different). While scrubs use all kinds of different ingredients -- we've experienced everything from salt to sugar to grapes (in a wine-themed treatment) -- the combination of ginger and lime that's used on several cruise lines seems to be a winner. Scrubs can be vigorous, so if you have overly sensitive skin, you'll want to steer clear.

aromatherapy

5. Aromatherapy Massage

Usually billed at higher rates than regular Swedish massages, aromatherapy massages take the extra step of adding soothing oils to the lotion to further relax you. Expect the massage therapist to begin the treatment by asking you to smell various vials to gauge your frame of mind. Popular blends include lavender, mint and/or rosemary, and clove/cypress. Don't be surprised if the therapist asks you if you want to buy the blend afterward.