Spa Pass

Is a Cruise Ship Onboard Spa Pass Worth It?

To buy the spa pass or not to buy the spa pass? For smart cruisers, that’s an easy question to answer!

When my wife and I took our first cruise in 2012, we decided to spend a little extra and book a spa pass for the week. It was the best money we have spent on a cruise, hands-down. Our week in the Mediterranean was already going to be great. It got even better when we toured the spa area and decided to go for the pass.

Maybe you don’t think you’re a spa pass kind of guy or gal, but if you’ve never given yourself up to the life of pomp and preening, then you’re missing out on a wonderful experience!

Why Buy the Onboard Spa Pass?

Spa Pass

Mandara Spa Sauna on Norwegian Epic | Photo: Norwegian Cruise Line

You’ve joined a select group of people who made the right choice. On our 2012 cruise, we saw no more than a dozen fellow travelers in the spa area. We had the hot tub and thermal pool mostly to ourselves. Even during our cold-weather Baltic Cruise last October, we never had to wait to get into the hot tub or pool. The sauna was nice, too, and so were the fluffy robes.

The onboard spa is the perfect place to rest your weary body after a day of walking around a port town or taking an excursion. After an evening at the spa, we were always ready to roll the next morning.

It’s also a good way to use your on-board credit. It’s how we spent our extra Mediterranean bucks on Norwegian Cruise LineIt’s also a good chance to have alone time away from the kids or just avoid other people’s youngsters. No children are allowed. Plus, weather doesn’t matter. The spa, while a bit humid in the sauna, is climate controlled. Thankfully, you can rehydrate after a sweat with a glass of water with a hint of orange.

Spa Pass

Mandara Spa Lounge Chairs on Norwegian Escape | Photo: Norwegian Cruise Line

You’ll have comfortable seating and plenty of it. The two ships we have taken, the Norwegian Epic and Breakaway, have heated stone seats. That’s comfort you never knew you needed until you’re trying it yourself! 

The spa on the Norwegian Epic is on the aft side of the ship. Sitting on the small deck area watching the previous port fade in the distance is as relaxing as it gets. Topping that list was the view leaving Marseilles headed to Barcelona. Magnifique!

If you don’t buy the pass…

Have fun fitting into an on-deck hot tub or pool. Neither can be very big because of water displacement, so both get jam-packed with people you might not want to hang around. Not exactly ideal for peace and quiet. 

Remember what we said about the on-deck amenities? Yeah, that will be your world. Plus, there’s always the casino…

RELATED: New Fitness, Spa, and Venue Reveals for Norwegian Escape

Do people still use Epsom Salts on their aching feet? I saw a guy dip his feet in the ice cold on-deck pool when we were cruising between St. Petersburg and Helsinki. It was clear he didn’t buy the pass and was a member of the Polar Bear Club. Brrrrrr….

Make sure you get on deck early and stake out a lounge chair. Get ready to have people glare if you park there too long. You still have a view. It just isn’t all that memorable from your room.

So, is a cruise ship onboard spa pass worth it? Vacations are meant to be enjoyed, so why not treat yourself to a little pampering? You deserve it, there’s no question about that!

-Rodney Campbell

Now in its 25th year, Porthole Cruise and Travel Magazine is published bi-monthly and available worldwide through digital subscription. It offers the latest news in cruise and travel, with in-depth features on voyages, new ships, the best destinations, readers' picks, onboard cuisine, entertainment, and more!