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.
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