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Elizabeth Davis

Age: 31 to 40

Occupation:Manager, American Express

Number of Cruises: 2nd

Cruise Line: Cunard

Ship: Queen Elizabeth 2

Sailing Date: n/a

Itinerary: New York - Southampton

Let me begin by offering a valuable piece of information, shared with me repeatedly while aboard the QE2.  That is, the QE2 is not, I repeat NOT a cruise ship. It is, rather, a luxury ocean liner.

For those of you who are unclear as to the difference between the two, I suggest you take one of each. If you find you are still in need of further research, well, there are worse problems!

My husband and I were aboard the eastbound transatlantic “Floating Jazz Festival” sailing, which departed New York harbor on June 5, 2000.  The weather, which, by the way, is not within Cunard’s control, was rather dismal, so we were somewhat challenged when it came to keeping ourselves amused in ways not related to eating. 

Fortunately, Tom Ogg came to the rescue and insisted I research the on board spa facilities. An ominous task, to be sure, but I was determined not to let him down! Truth is, my time may have been better spent in the gym after all the ice cream I devoured, but I selflessly rose to the occasion.

The Spa is run by Steiner, an English company which started out as an on board hairdresser and evolved into a more or less full-service spa. Their employees are already professionals in their area of expertise when they join the company and receive specific product training from Steiner. Each signs on for a minimum of four months, with most opting to extend their onboard stint.

  The operation is divided into two areas. One houses the beauty salon, where the usual hair, nail, skin services are offered. The other houses the massage facilities, sauna, steam room, dressing rooms and a thelasso therapy pool. The latter is similar (functionally, at least) to an enormous Jacuzzi, with various stations designed to direct pulsating 98 degree water on various parts of your weary body.  Intimidating at first, this is one of the highlights of the experience and prepares your aching muscles beautifully for your massage.

  My husband, who shall no longer remain nameless – Dan – and I, visited the spa twice. On our first trip, we each had a Swedish massage, I had a facial, and he tried the sauna. The men’s and ladies’ saunas are separate, by the way. The steam room is coed, which we found interesting.

The person who performed my facial was skilled and pleasant. I had no nasty surprises afterward, no breakouts or dryness, and emerged from the experience relaxed and refreshed.

Both of our massage therapists on this first visit were so outstanding that we made our next appointments specifically with them, even before leaving the spa. Both were female, although you can request a male if you prefer, and both were highly skilled, adjusting their technique according to our verbal and non-verbal responses.

On our next visit, we tried the thelasso therapy pool and had another massage each. The pool, as I mentioned, was fantastic. Our favorite station was the one made of aluminum bars, just below the surface, upon which you lie while the water swirls all around you. If you have room, you should build one of these in your home. You’d never leave.

  Sadly, even though I had requested a specific person, I was assigned to a different masseuse. This one was also technically skilled, but lacked the “soft” skills of the first woman and the experience was less than gratifying. Some rather noisy construction was going on as well and was very distracting. It actually sounded as if someone was about to come crashing through the ceiling. My masseuse did not acknowledge the disturbance nor did she offer anything by way of compensation, which left me much less satisfied than on my first visit.

  Dan, on the other hand, was even more pleased with his second massage than he was with his first and attributed this partially to the fact that he had not used the thelasso therapy pool on his first visit. Because of the noise, his masseuse offered to cut his treatment short, not charge him for what she had done so far, and reschedule him for a later time when he could relax and enjoy it more. While he did not take her up on the offer, he appreciated her willingness and customer focus.

  In summary, the spa services offered on board are a pleasant distraction and a wonderful treat. As with most service-oriented businesses, this one relies heavily on its staff making you feel special. And, perhaps not surprisingly, some of the Steiner staff simply have more of a knack than others in this area. While I would not recommend taking this cruise for the sole purpose of visiting the spa, I will say that the overall experience Steiner offers is quite good. If you happen to be on board, treat yourself. And tell them I sent you!

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