Thursday, February 14, 2013

Thermal Suite

I wanted to write a bit about my experience again in the Thermal Suite.  As some of you may remember I first tried the Thermal Suite last Fall on the Star on a short re-positioning cruise.  That experience was not the best because it was just so busy and my thought was that they must of oversold the package for the two day trip as it was always so crowded.  So I wanted to try it again to see how a longer voyage would compare.

On the first day of my last ten day cruise I went on a tour of the facility.  The facility compared to the Star is similar but it seems like the Star’s Thermal suite is bigger and certainly laid out better in my opinion. 

With the Emerald you have to check in at the desk, hand over your card where you are then given a robe to wear.  I changed into my bathing suit in the Women’s change room and put on my robe then walked thru the spa area and down a flight of stairs to the Thermal Suite – note there is a wheelchair accessible lift if needed. 

The area is one very large room with three different rooms or experiences to enjoy with the main area having five heated stone lounge chairs.  There are two shower experiences – one on each side, but one of the showers the wand did not work the entire ten days and a few times the temperature would fluctuate so much it was not always a relaxing experience.

Now for the four different Thermal Suite experiences. 

Scented Steam Room:   very small room that could accommodate comfortably two people, four if you wanted to be intimate.  Now from past experience I know that this room is supposed to smell of Eucalyptus but I never once smelled anything let alone Eucalyptus.  Nor did I ever feel like this was a very hot steam room.  There is a fountain that didn’t work but if it did I am sure it would have been nice.  Overall I enjoyed the room as I really enjoy a steam room but this room was not hot enough, and often cooler than the gentle steam room, and really missed the scent.

Gentle Steam Room:  This is right beside the Scented Steam Room and is much much larger.  It had numerous benches, four water spigots and bowls and another fountain, but that one was broken too.  There is no scent in this room, but there is not suppose to be a scent.  I like this room as it was often hotter than the earlier one.

gentle sauna
Gentle Sauna:  This is a very appealing looking room with a large heated bench on each side of the fountain – but again the fountain doesn’t work!  The room is warm, not hot, and not like a sauna.  When I asked about it, I was told it was the right temperature as it is a gentle sauna – okay, but not sure what to do here.  I like the heated benches that are very warm, certainly warmer than the heated lounges in the main area.  I did relax in here but would of preferred a hotter sauna and would of really have enjoyed a fountain to have a bit of a background relaxing sound.

The main area with heated lounges:  very pretty looking, a lovely green hue to the room, lovely lighting that was very relaxing.  The lounge chairs are popular and was disappointed that people would actually stake out their lounge chair with a towel and their stuff while they visited the other rooms here.  I would wait till I was ready to use a lounge chair before putting my stuff on one, this way others could enjoy when I wasn’t.  The lounge chairs themselves are comfortable and warm and I did enjoy relaxing on them.

With the Thermal Suite being situated just below the workout area the sounds of the heavy beat from the music and the banging coming from when there is a workout above were very off putting.  I often tried to plan my visits to the suite when there was no scheduled work out.  But often my relaxation was interrupted by a thud or a boom which could even be heard in the saunas and steam rooms.  Very poor design by Princess. 

Overall the Thermal Suite is nice but certainly not relaxing and in need of some repair and sound proofing.  Fix the fountains in the rooms; create more of a sound barrier between the room and the gym upstairs.  I think piping in some soothing sounds into the rooms would also be nice to create a more relaxing atmosphere.  Also a nice aromatherapy should be added to the rooms, especially the one steam room that says it has a scent but doesn’t.

In the end I paid $100 for a ten day access to the suite, it is free for those that are staying in a full suite.  I visited the suite 6 times and did enjoy it but would never do it again.   I never felt it was worth the extra money and the free steam room and sauna were just as good if not better.  In fact twice I went to them after visiting the Thermal Suite to get a hotter experience.  I found the staff to be nice but not overly welcoming and long queues at the front desk a little frustrating when all I wanted to do was hand in my card or retrieve it but had to wait for customers to pay or make bookings.

I think Princess needs to work on the Thermal Suite Experience some more and fix the areas that are currently broken and maybe add to it to make it more special before I will do it again or recommend it.

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