We work hard. You work hard, I work hard, your office mate Ted works hard, even though it’s at fantasy football and not his job. We all put in a lot of time, effort and determination getting through this silly little regimen of ours, paying the bills, play mobile bingo, keeping our children alive, and making sure we turn out the lights and brush our teeth before bed. Life is hard. So when you take a vacation, you want to relax.

But how you ask? There are so many relaxing vacation options and yet you can only choose one. It’s your only time away from Ted all year, so make it count. You could go on a spa vacation. You could have spa treatments, massages and facials and have your body pampered and your mind turned off. Or you could take a cruise.

Costa Luminosa

The Costa Luminosa stopping in Savona, Italy.

Yes, a cruise would allow you to sail peacefully across that big blue ocean, with drinks, delicious food, and attentive staff in crisp uniforms taking care of your every need.

Or you could do both at the same time.

That’s what I did onboard the Costa Luminosa, Costa Cruises’ immaculate 2,826 bed behemoth of the Mediterranean, the scourge of tense muscles, obliterator of stress, champion of reasonably priced relaxation on the high seas.

The Costa Luminosa is equipped with the Samsara Spa, a revolutionary 3500 square meter den of chill. This is where I went to be massaged into sweet mindless oblivion. And it was glorious.

samsara rooms

Japanese inspired art adorns the walls throughout the deck where the Samsara Spa Cabins are located.

Here’s how it worked: I walked the few feet from my Samsara Spa Cabin, with its deck overlooking the endless ocean, to the Samsara spa in the fluffy bathrobe provided to me, which was made out of clouds.


Enjoying the bathrobe while I wait for my Aroma Stone Therapy session.

I was met by a friendly and bubbly Filipino masseuse who gave me my favorite: the Samsara Aroma Stone Therapy.

Now there are endless therapies and treatments being administered and different rooms of various temperatures with relaxing things happening throughout Samsara Spa. I tried many of them, and they were all fantastic.

spa cabins

The Samsara Spa has no shortage of relaxing places to receive treatment.

But the Samsara Aroma Stone Therapy was my personal triumph. Even though I did nothing but feel the masseuse work her magic, I felt like I had done something great just by choosing it.

The masseuse brought me into one of the treatment rooms while warmly asking about my life and work. I realized that although she was being friendly, she was already trying to learn about my stress levels and if there was anything she should know that might help her help me.

stone therapy

Where the Aroma Stone Therapy magic happens.

She then had me sit on a chair and she pulled a big metal bowl out from underneath the chair. The bowl was filled with water and at the bottom of the water were round stones. She had me put my feet in it, sprayed some sort of soapy stuff into the water, and then shook the bowl and worked the stones around my feet, which were achy from exploring a beautiful Mediterranean port that morning.


Some pre-Aroma Stone Therapy foot magic.

Then I got on the table and the hot stones were placed all over my body, each one delivering a warmth to key areas on my back and shoulders, each bit of warmth spread until my entire body felt like it was awash in a warm,  recuperative energy. Combined with the aroma therapy, my mind felt like it was at once overwhelmed and totally turned off, the pleasure feeling great and freeing at the same time.

It went on for a blissful hour. Then the masseuse left the room as I got on my robe again and when I entered the hallway she escorted me to the tea room. There she showed me to a comfy lounge chair that faced the sea and she asked me what kind of tea I wanted. I sat in the lounge chair and on either side of me were Japanese screens, so I had a solitary view of the endless ocean, a view that I sat starting at, mesmerized, while Jennifer brought me green tea. I thanked her and she left and I sipped tea for a while, Ted far away.


Winding down the day in the Solarium.

This was just one afternoon at the Samsara spa. There were many others that were just as fantastic. And every time I walked out of Samsara I found myself on the deck of a cruise ship. Not a bad transition.

My Western Mediterranean cruise aboard the Costa Luminosa was provided in collaboration with Costa Cruises and Newman PR. All opinions expressed above are my own. As of November, 2013, the Costa Luminosa is sailing around the Caribbean as explained by Chris Cruises.