7 Rip-Offs to Avoid in Cruise Ship Spas

by Donna Heiderstadt

7 Rip-Offs to Avoid in Cruise Ship Spas

by Donna Heiderstadt

All you want is to relax at the spa — but before you know it, you’ve been talked into a pricy body treatment promising you’ll “lose inches” and reserved one of the "limited" weekly thermal passes. But hold on: If you’re not careful, you could find yourself with a spa bill that’s more than the base fare for your inside (or even ocean view) cabin. When it comes to spa treatments at sea, keep it simple and avoid these seven cruise-ship spa rip-offs.

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Norwegian Epic's Mandara Spa sauna / NCL
Clay for spa treatments
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Ionithermie

This “European” treatment promises to reduce cellulite in problem areas by covering them with clay and stimulating the muscles with electrodes, but cruise ship spas offering it are known to tempt you with one session ($159), then recommend a series of three for ultimate effect ($339). And then you'll get a high-pressure sell for expensive after-care serum to maintain and improve the results.

This “European” treatment promises to reduce cellulite in problem areas by covering them with clay and stimulating the muscles with electrodes, but cruise ship spas offering it are known to tempt you with one session ($159), then recommend a series of three for ultimate effect ($339). And then you'll get a high-pressure sell for expensive after-care serum to maintain and improve the results.

Persian Garden
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A Weekly Thermal Pass

It's easy to fall for this pass if your idea of bliss is a daily jetted-tub soak or steam in the sauna — just be aware that most cruise itineraries with daily port calls leave little time for the spa, so you may feel you’ve wasted $119 to $159 if you only use the pass once or twice. The exceptions: transatlantic and repositioning cruises, when you have multiple days at sea to get your money's worth out of the weekly pass. Otherwise, consider a daily pass and set aside enough time to really enjoy it.

It's easy to fall for this pass if your idea of bliss is a daily jetted-tub soak or steam in the sauna — just be aware that most cruise itineraries with daily port calls leave little time for the spa, so you may feel you’ve wasted $119 to $159 if you only use the pass once or twice. The exceptions: transatlantic and repositioning cruises, when you have multiple days at sea to get your money's worth out of the weekly pass. Otherwise, consider a daily pass and set aside enough time to really enjoy it.

Gold facial
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Fancy Facials

We love a good facial. But when the price reaches $325, as does the 24-karat gold leaf facial offered by several cruise lines you might want to consider whether the benefit matches the markup, especially when most other facials are less than half the cost.

We love a good facial. But when the price reaches $325, as does the 24-karat gold leaf facial offered by several cruise lines you might want to consider whether the benefit matches the markup, especially when most other facials are less than half the cost.

Manicure
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Manicures and Pedicures

The mani-pedi is perhaps the most popular rip-off at sea, costing on average about double what you’d pay back in most home towns. For great-looking hands and feet, get your nails done before you leave for your cruise.

The mani-pedi is perhaps the most popular rip-off at sea, costing on average about double what you’d pay back in most home towns. For great-looking hands and feet, get your nails done before you leave for your cruise.

Teeth whitening
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Medi-Spa Treatments and Tooth Whitening

Yes, many cruise ship spas now have cosmetic-procedure-trained doctors onboard offering Botox, Restylane and Perlane injections in a Medi-Spa. But we prefer the idea of getting these treatments close to home, where you have access to the doctor for follow-up treatments. The same goes for single-treatment tooth whitening, which can cause sensitivity and make coffee, red wine, and other beverages off limits for a few days of your cruise.

Yes, many cruise ship spas now have cosmetic-procedure-trained doctors onboard offering Botox, Restylane and Perlane injections in a Medi-Spa. But we prefer the idea of getting these treatments close to home, where you have access to the doctor for follow-up treatments. The same goes for single-treatment tooth whitening, which can cause sensitivity and make coffee, red wine, and other beverages off limits for a few days of your cruise.

Lecture Room
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Free Anti-Aging or Weight-Loss Seminars

“Free” makes these seminars sound tempting, sure. But these sessions are usually nothing more than a hard sell to sign you up for a series of onboard treatments, including Ionithermie and Medi-Spa injectables.

“Free” makes these seminars sound tempting, sure. But these sessions are usually nothing more than a hard sell to sign you up for a series of onboard treatments, including Ionithermie and Medi-Spa injectables.

Booking a spa treatment
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The Post-Treatment Product Push

In your post-massage euphoria, you might very well be susceptible to your therapist’s persuasive touting of an expensive skin-care regimen. Save yourself the hassle by making it clear from the onset that you will not be buying products.

In your post-massage euphoria, you might very well be susceptible to your therapist’s persuasive touting of an expensive skin-care regimen. Save yourself the hassle by making it clear from the onset that you will not be buying products.

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