Cruising these days is not just about visiting glamorous ports of call and dining in style. Varied spa treatments are now on offer while at sea
AS PASSENGERS flock to onboard spas for hot-stone massages, soothing facials and detoxifying mud wraps, cruise lines are coming up with more and more cutting-edge treatments to satisfy the increasing demand for a quick beauty fix and a perfect body.
None of the treatments come cheap, although the US dollar pricing on some ships means you may win on the exchange rate.
Some treatments are exotic variations on traditional massage but others are invasive procedures, so you may want to think hard before you take the plunge.
BOTOX An increasing number of cruise lines offer Botox injections, freezing the muscles that create frown lines and crows' feet and smoothing the face as a result. Norwegian Cruise Line, one of the first to introduce the treatments, also has Restylane which fills the lines between nose and mouth or mouth and chin.
Everything is carried out under medical supervision.
Treatments take 30 minutes and will only be done while the ship is in port. From £240 for Botox and £480 for Restylane. NCL (0845 658 8010/www.ncl.co.uk) offers a 12-night Eastern Mediterranean cruise on Norwegian Jade, from £715pp (two sharing), departing Barcelona on November 30 and calling at Civitavecchia, Athens, Izmir, Alexandria and Valletta, including return flights from Heathrow or Gatwick.
TEETH WHITENING Ocean Village may be a budget cruise line but its Karma Spa has a huge range of treatments, from the frivolous (hair extensions, braids, airbrush make-up, tattoos and full Brazilian waxes) to the usual array of massages.
For £135, though, you can have a one-dose teeth whitening using a technique that removes all the grimy bits and bleaches the teeth. It's less of a hassle than the conventional system whereby you sleep wearing a gel-filled mould of your teeth. Any toothwhitening can cause sensitivity when you bite on an ice cream and if you go too far, your new gnashers could glow in the dark in the ship's nightclub. Ocean Village (0845 075 0032/www.oceanvillageholidays.co.uk) offers a seven-night Southern Caribbean Coral and Coconuts cruise on Ocean Village 2 from £778pp (two s haring), departing Barbados on February 25 and calling at St Vincent, Dominica, Mayreau, Margarita, Curacao and Aruba i ncluding return flights from Birmingham. Departures from Gatwick start from £788pp.
AYURVEDA More associated with Indian ashrams than cruise ship spas, genuine ayurveda - which is the ancient Indian system of medicine (with a properly trained practitioner) - is offered on Costa Cruises' two flagships, Costa Concordia and Costa Serena.
I chose the Shirodhara Body Glow and completed a survey which revealed that my doshas were completely unbalanced. The therapist then set about trying to even up my air, fire and earth elements with oils, wraps and deep massage.
The weirdest sensation was a stream of warm oil being poured on to my forehead for 10 minutes - blissful, extremely messy yet strangely comforting. The 50-minute session cost £84. Costa cruises (0845 351 0552/www.costacruises.co.uk) offers a sevennight "y cruise on Costa Serena from £973pp (two sharing), departing Venice on June 14, calling at Izmir, Istanbul and Dubrovnik, with return "ights from Gatwick.
ASHIATSU Top marks to the Queen Mary 2's Canyon Ranch Spa for the wackiest massage ever, in which you lie on the floor and the therapist hangs from a rope to deliver an oily rub-down with their feet. The whole thing was a wonderful sensation but I had to keep my eyes shut to avoid giggling. £112 for 50 minutes. Cunard (0845 678 0013/www.cunard.co.uk) offers a six-night transatlantic crossing on Queen Mary 2 from £885pp (two sharing), departing Southampton on November 15, excluding the one-way flight from New York.
MYA ADVANCE On MSC Fantasia, an exotic Balinese-themed spa has several treatments dedicated to the reduction of cellulite. Mya Advance is a cutting-edge dermasonic treatment which uses ultrasound to help drain off excess liquids lurking between the fat cells and is supposed to smooth and tone the skin. It's getting rave reviews in the US and costs £65 per session, £170 for three. MSC (0844 561 1955/www.msccruises.co.uk) offers an 11-night fly-cruise from £745pp (two sharing), departing Genoa on February 18, calling at Barcelona, Gibraltar, Funchal, Tenerife, Malaga and Civitavecchia, including return flights from Gatwick.
ACUPUNCTURE Being stuck like a hedgehog with fine needles is the last thing you want on a moving ship but cruise lines are doing a roaring trade on acupuncture treatments in port, particularly for relieving aches and pains, digestive problems, stress or even quitting smoking.
On Celebrity Cruises' ships, there's a dedicated acupuncture room manned by qualified practitioners. I've tried treatments for stress and muscular problems and have felt amazingly energised afterwards. From £85, although you usually need several sessions. Celebrity Cruises (0845 456 1520/ www.celebritycruises.co.uk) offers a seven-night Western Caribbean fly-cruise on Celebrity Century from £1,164pp (two sharing), departing Miami on April 11 calling at Ocho Rios and George Town, including return flights from Gatwick.