Cruise Ship Thermal Suites
When I board a cruise ship the first place I like to head is the Spa. Well sometimes I grab lunch first but I always get to the spa early on embarkation day. This is the time when you can tour the spa and check out everything they have to offer. Sometimes they even have a spa raffle you can enter when you do the tour. The thing I want to see most in the spa is the Thermal Suite! If you haven't been to this amazing area on a ship before you are missing out.
Almost all cruise ship spas will have some type of thermal suite. They might call it something else, such as Disney calls theirs the Rainforest Room or Princess calls it the Enclave. Whatever they call it, the thermal suite is an area of the spa where guests can relax and do a little self care on their own. In the past few months I have been lucky enough to sail on a few different ships and try out each of their thermal suites.
What will you find in a Thermal Suite?
First off I will say they are co-ed so you will find everyone wearing bathing suits.
While it varies from ship to ship most thermal suites will usually have at least a steam room, sauna, and aromatherapy showers. Many now have a salt room too.
Some offer hot tubs and/or cool tubs (yep cool water actually feels nice after the steam room or sauna). If you are lucky they will have a thalassotherapy pool - these are a bit different than a hot tub as they are larger, use saltwater, the jets are stronger, and they usually have a full body size reclining seat in the water. I really enjoyed the one in The Enclave on Princess Sky. Disney Dream and Fantasy have 2 hot tubs on an open air deck portion of the Rainforest room which I also really enjoy.
Some of the more unique things I have found in thermal suites are the mud room on Virgin and the snow room on MSC and NCL. I can't say that I am normally a fan of mud or snow but it was fun to try them out in the spa. I also really liked the crystal room on Celebrity Apex.
After you've experienced some of the features you will want to just relax and enjoy the zen feeling so most will have some type of heated lounger that you can just melt into. These are usually my favorite. I say usually because I was not a fan of the heated seating in Virgin's spa. Some ships place their thermal suite in really nice locations like Celebrity Apex which was at the very front of an upper deck so your view from the heated loungers was amazing, especially around sunset! The thermal suite on Apex also had nice big window views from the sauna and hanging chairs so there are lots of places to relax and enjoy the view. Not all thermal suites will be in a location with a view which isn't bad either. I kind of liked the darker quiet feeling of the Enclave on Sky Princess which is in interior area of a lower deck.
How do you access the Thermal Suite?
Some spas will give you time in the Thermal Suite before or after a booked treatment.
If you are not planning to book any spa treatments you can usually book a day pass or length of cruise pass to visit the thermal suite whenever you want.
Some ships even offer a special stateroom category you book that includes access to the thermal suite during your cruise. Be sure to check pricing since sometimes those spa staterooms are a great deal if you are planning to spend time in the thermal suite anyway.
Viking Ocean Cruises even goes a step further and includes thermal suite access to everyone.
During covid rules you had to make an appointment for your thermal suite visit so they could control the number of guests in there at a given time. Disney went as far to make it a private appointment which I really loved even if I didn't love the price tag for that hour and 45 minutes. Now covid rules are easing so most spas are running pretty close to normal again.
Going to the thermal suite can also come with a bonus. You will be able to use the changing room area before and after so you will get a robe and can store anything you don't want to bring into the thermal suite. That area usually also has showers you can use which tend to have some upgraded bath products and lotions.
Another bonus - no kids allowed in the spa!
If you are like me and love to find nice quiet spots to relax when you cruise I highly recommend checking out the Thermal Suite in the ship's spa.
I have recently sailed on Disney Cruise Line and Virgin Voyages and both offer an amazing spa. Disney has the Rainforest room and Virgin has Redemption Spa's Thermal Suite. They are very different and are also dealing with covid differently. Here is my experience with each -
Disney Dream's Rainforest Room. On the Dream the Spa area and fitness are all together on Deck 11 all the way in the front of the ship. This is also where most of the adult only stuff is located so it is a nice quiet area. There are 2 hot tubs, 4 different types of showers, along with a steam room, sauna, and heated lounges. Disney has decided to change the rules for the Rainforest Room due to covid so that only one party is allowed at a time. You reserve a time slot for a flat fee of $175 and you and up to 10 people in your party are able to have the Rainforest room all to yourself! Yes it is a little pricey but after the year and half I had I knew it would be worth every penny for me! I couldn't wait to book my slot as I always enjoy a visit to the Rainforest Room and thought alone would be even better! I understand that eventually they will go back to normal operations but I would love it if maybe Disney would still offer a few times each day where guests could book a private experience.
The Rainforest Room includes a semi-enclosed outdoor section with the 2 hot tubs. Inside it has heated loungers, a steam room, sauna, and aromatherapy showers. The heated loungers are my favorite place to read a little and nap a lot I also really love that outdoor area with the hot tubs as there is just something relaxing about having a sea breeze and hearing the ocean. The showers and steam room and saunas are also nice. You do have the option to purchase some scrubs to use in the showers but I opted out of that for this time. The area is a bit small and used to get kind of crowded before covid so I do wish it was bigger. Either way it is a nice little sanctuary to just unwind and de-stress even if only for an hour and 45 minutes.
Virgin Voyages Redemption Spa Virgin's spa is down on deck 5 mid ship. The thermal suite is pretty big and offers a mudroom, salt room, sauna, steam room, along with hot and cold plunge pools There are also some heated marble hamman benches. It is $70 for a day. As with all things Virgin the covid policies seemed to be much more relaxed than Disney. While they are not doing private time bookings they did say they are limiting the number of guests due to covid. The funny thing is when you book your day you don't have to pick a time in advance and so I am not sure if they are just limiting the number of guests per day or if you book the day and arrive when too many people are already in there they would tell you to come back.
When I went there were a few people but there was plenty of space to spread out and usually have one of the rooms to yourself. When I checked in at the desk I was told hold on let me get your mud. I wasn't really sure what to expect since I hadn't tried a mudroom before so when she handed me this shot glass size cup of mud I had to laugh. I am not sure what I was picturing but this wasn't it.
I figured since I had my mud might as well go for the mudroom first. The little sign by the door said go in let your skin warm and then apply mud and relax and let it soak in and then wash off. Sounded easy enough. It was a little strange at first but I just thought of the mud like any other scrub I might use on my skin. It actually felt pretty good until it was time to rinse off and the water was a bit chilly. I figured ok now I will go warm up in the other rooms. I tired out all of the rooms along with the pools. I skipped the 2 coldest ones which looked like hot tubs but I knew from watching others get in that they were pretty cold. I was disappointed that the one that was most like a pool didn't have any jets and the water was a bit too cool for me. I was also disappointed by the heated benches as they were very uncomfortable. I tried a few different spots and as much as I love the warmth they just do not seem to be designed for relaxing. Another thing I would recommend do not pick a port day to visit. Being down on Deck 5 meant you were close to ground level and we were parked right next to another ship so the view wasn't that good and it was a bit noisy. Even though I could go as much as I wanted to during that day I didn't end up going back after my first visit.
I enjoyed my visit to both of these spas and highly recommend you check on out on your next cruise!
I didn't mention this but in case you haven't been to one of these things before they are co-ed and you do wear your bathing suit. You will also be provided with a robe and plenty of towels.
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