Heart and Sole – A trip to the ship’s spa changes a person … or at least their cuticles.

Monday Mantra

I’ll be relaxed and gorgeous…I’ll be relaxed and gorgeous…I’ll be relaxed and gorgeous…

Heart and Sole

A trip to the ship’s spa changes a person … or at least their cuticles.

There I was in the oh-so-serene reception area of the cruise ship spa while the piped-in sitar music made me think Ravi Shankar might be there, too, getting a seaweed wrap perhaps. It was hard to believe that on decks above me and below me thousands were competing in things like “The Mister Sexy Legs” contest amid thunderous hoots and hollers, sluggin’ down margaritas in a tequila-tasting class, dancing to a steel-drum band out by the pool, and learning the Michael Jackson “Thriller” dance in the main lounge. I sat back, embraced the solitude, and sipped my cucumber-infused water.

My name was called and I followed Piper, the pretty South African technician, to the manicure station and sat, resting my hands on the table before me. “Oh,” Piper tisked, lifting my fingers and examining them one by one with growing concern. “I’ll apply our cuticle oil today but, if you really care about your cuticles, I highly recommend you continue the treatment when you return home.” Truth? Up until the moment that Piper finished pushing, prodding, and oiling my nail beds into smooth and glossy perfection, I really didn’t care about my cuticles.

While Piper polished my nails with amazing precision, my feet were immersed in a basin of warm scented water, its fragrance wafting up and neutralizing the nasty acetone smell that assaults the nostrils in most salons. Floating lazily in the water were delicate pink rose petals, their silken beauty incongruous with my size-9 hooves and their rough spots. But once Piper got her hands on them — snip snip snip, file file file, cream cream cream — and skillfully applied the shocking pink polish I’d selected from a rainbow of options, I found myself with a pair of lovely feet — the kind that look like they were made to slip into a pair of strappy sandals (as long as the sandals were a wide width, of course) and head to the beach.

As I settled my bill at reception, I perused the menu of more exotic treatments available. Menu, indeed, as they sounded like things I’d happily eat: a yam-and-pumpkin peel, ginger-and-lime salt scrub, chocolate body polish, and espresso mud wrap. A separate listing of hair-conditioning treatments that promised to transform the chlorine-and-sun-scorched chaos that sat atop my head into silken and shining strands was particularly tempting.

When I emerged from the spa, “The Mister Sexy Legs” contest had just concluded. I had to agree that the winner’s legs weren’t bad, but as my eyes traveled down from thigh to ankle, I looked aghast at the his dry, cracked heels and jagged toenails. This, I thought, is one guy who really needs to spend some time with Piper. Tsk-tsk.

— Judi Cuervo

Judi Cuervo is a New York City native who fell in love with cruising in 1976 during her first sailing aboard Carnival Cruises’ Mardi Gras. Twenty years later, she began her freelance cruise writing gig and, since that time, has covered mass market, ultra-premium, riverboat and expedition ships for regional, national and international publications as well as cruise websites.