The Largest Spa at Sea

PHOTO A rendering of the new spa on Norwegian Cruise Lines Epic Cruise is shown.Courtesy Norwegian Cruise Lines
A rendering of the new spa on Norwegian Cruise Line's Epic Cruise is shown.

We already know that Norwegian Epic -- one of the year's most hotly anticipated new ships, Norwegian Cruise Line's biggest ever -- will usher in new innovations in entertainment and dining when it launches in July. Now, the cruise line has announced the ship will also debut the largest spa and fitness facility at sea, measuring more than 31,000 square feet.

The Mandara Spa will be operated by Steiner, the spa conglomerate that operates facilities on ships from NCL and many other cruise lines. But there are a few Epic-only twists, including ice cream-themed manis and pedis for kids and customizable salt scrubs and massages.

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A few highlights:

The line's first-ever spa cabins. Epic will feature 39 spa-dedicated staterooms -- a first for the line and an increasingly popular trend in the industry -- accessible only by private key-card and offering free access to the ship's Hydrotherapy Courtyard and Thermal Suite, a private enclave surrounding the spa and fitness center (the price for passengers not booked in spa cabins has yet to be set). In addition to balcony and deluxe balcony spa cabins, there will be eight spa suites with in-room whirlpools.

A variety of treatment rooms. The spa will feature 24 treatments rooms as well as two "couple's villas" and two "solo villas" for massages (each has a private, outdoor whirlpool), plus two exotic Rasul steam rooms where guests have access to organic muds, exfoliants and oils for rinsing off under the warm, rainforest-style shower. Guests can also create their own DIY sugar or salt scrub. Six treatment rooms feature balconies with chaise lounges.

There will also be a full-service salon and barber shop.

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Manis, pedis and more for kids ... Young cruisers get their own roster of treatments created around the ME! Bath line of ice-cream themed products (although ice cream itself isn't expected to be dished up at the spa, NCL spokeswoman Courtney Recht says it's a possibility). Treatments include the ME! Bath Ice Cream Manicure and Pedicure and a ME! Bath Ice Cream Social, an opportunity for a group of kids to get together and test out the products. There are also mother-daughter and father-son massage options for family bonding.

Spa and Fitness at Sea

... and new treatments for adults, too. Three new massage treatment options will debut onboard. For the Thai Herbal Poultice Massage, heated herbal poultices (soft, moist, clay-like spreads) are placed on pressure points to augment Eastern and Western massage techniques. Bamboo Massage therapists use bamboo shoots soaked in essential oils to work muscles. And a signature Freestyle Massage is completely customizable. Guests choose what areas (lower back, shoulders, calves) need attention.

There will also be two treatments on offer from Bliss, the spa chain that's well known in the United States and United Kingdom. (Steiner recently acquired Bliss but said at the time there were no immediate plans to bring the brand to sea.) Bliss triple oxygen combines a fruit acid wash, oxygen wrap, oxygen and milk mask, and more to revive spagoers' complexions while Bliss fatgirlslim is a detoxifying, body-toning treatment that involves dry brushing followed by firming grapefruit essential oils, a seaweed mask and heated wrap.

Recht of NCL said Bliss products will most likely be available for purchase onboard.

Epic will also feature a 24-Karat Gold Facial, which we've seen onboard Celebrity's Solstice-class ships. Here, it is a blend of pure gold leaf, rose quartz and medicinal plants.

Firsts in fitness. The roster of fitness classes is also diverse. Expect TRX and kettlebell training; group cycling, on Activo spinning bikes; a Gravity reformer, a Pilates training system; and body sculpting boot camp classes. That's in in addition to the more traditional yoga and Pilates offerings. The gym features 37 treadmills, 18 cross trainers, weights, and special areas for stretching and aerobics. Up on the pool deck, you'll also find the cruise industry's first-ever rappelling wall.

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