Did You Know Your Cruise Ship Spa is Likely Outsourced to a Third Party and Staff are Not Crew?

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a group of people standing in front of a reception desk

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There are a few things you should learn before you take your first cruise – the cruise line not only wants you to have a grand time but they also want to extract maximum profits from you from the moment you come onboard to the moment you walk off the ship (and even thereafter). So while you want to relax and unwind you still have to be mindful about not overspending your budget for your cruise vacation.

a sign on a wall

One of the foremost things you want to accomplish on a cruise is to unwind and relax and be pampered. You will not have to cook or clean up after yourself nor will you have to make your bed or clean the shower or anything – you now have “people” for all these things after all! But some who want to really unwind want to include spa time as part of their voyage.

a room with chairs and a view of the ocean

There some things you need to know and this applies to a vast number of the major cruise lines that the spa staff is not like the rest of the crew onboard, that is, they don’t directly work for the cruise line but are sub contracted by another company. Yes, they still work very long contracts but they, many times, have to pay for their room and board as well as flight to and from the ship (unlike most who do work for the cruise line who don’t have to pay for these kinds of things). And there is more.

a room with a mirror and chairs

One of my first spa treatments I ever had was onboard the NCL Epic. The Epic has two therapy rooms up in the HAVEN so you never have to leave your ultra private space as the therapist comes to you. My massage started with the better part of 15 minutes of sales pitch for all kinds of stuff (none of which I wanted or needed) and followed by my 1 hour massage greatly shortened and not very good at all. The next massage I tried on another NCL cruise I was told to write in BOLD LETTERS “no sales” on top of my overview sheet they make you fill out. I did not get pestered with a sales pitch but again the massage was just so-so and I decided, especially for the price, to avoid the spa when I cruise from that point forward. Now I know the reason why

The video above is from a person who worked for the company Steiner, who happens to be the company NCL currently uses, and explains the behind the scenes facts for the therapists who are trying to get you to book a treatment. The bottom line is they are not going to work very hard for you if you don’t also buy some stuff from them in the spa. Lame right?

a room with couches and windows with ocean view

Even though I, as an NLC Latitudes Diamond member, get 25% off spa services when the ship is in port it simply is not enough of a discount to justify the high prices they charge and the lack luster service provided (disclaimer – I have not tried massages on other cruise lines).

a room with chairs and a large window

I find it so fascinating reading each and every post from “ThatGuy (onboard)” who has spent almost all of his adult life working onboard cruise ships and learning just what goes on behind the scenes. Spa service is one I never thought about until I saw this report regarding Royal Caribbean’s outsourced company and motivated me to share this post.

So I would love to know – do you like including spa time and therapy treatments as part of your cruise vacation? Is it something you look forward to? Did you know the spa folks are not crew like the rest of the ships crew? Let me know! – René

 

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Saying the are ‘not crew’ isn’t exactly correct. Yes, they are third party, but are treated mostly the same as any other crew, staff or officer onboard with minor distinctions. For example, they all hold emergency roles and are subject to IPM, drills and other inspections, just like any other crewmember. The exact differences vary by cruise line. Also, they’re likely not the only ‘concessionaires’ onboard. Many times the ships, art, and internet are 3rd party.

    Agreed, the sales pitch is annoying but it is truly how they make money. I’ve known many Steiners who were great people and they wouldn’t purposely give you a bad massage if you didn’t buy. So, don’t believe everything you read on the internet.

    • @Anthony – I spoke to our man who works on a major cruise line that he shared they are very much NOT like other crew including having to pay for their cabin and meals. Beyond that I truly feel I got a less quality massage because I did not buy anything but that is just my personal impression and experience.

  2. I did a massage on a Holland America cruise, and had the same sales type pitch where I need “product” and of course a second massage. Price was too high compared to what I pay local. I have never gotten anther massage on a cruise ship and do not even linger around the spa.

  3. Thrifty massage junkie here. My cruise strategy is 100% opposite of yours. I buy the cheapest cabin on the boat, a Thermal Suite pass, a couple massages, and do not buy the internet package.

    The same company runs the spas on carnival, NCL, and others. The prices are SIGNIFICANTLY less for both the treatments and the Thermal Suite on Carnival than NCL- dare I say it- the Carnival crowd is not the spas target market where the NCL spa can get sold out early.

    Don’t bother paying more for a more intense massage like you get at home. It’s not happening. A good deep tissue massage leaves bruises and the spa is not going to have you running around in a swimsuit with bruises showing. Same with the bamboo and other intense treatments. But the touchy feely relaxing treatments are good

    The best value for a massage is to attend the spas open house right at sail away. You might win the raffle but more important, you can book the managers special for a set number of treatments at a set price.

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