Cruise ships offer a variety of amenities, including medical care, spa experiences, and even massage therapy.
Vacation Injuries and Illnesses
Cruise ships are a floating resort experience. They provide many opportunities to be physically active, from dancing and swimming, to sightseeing and off-shore excursions, and some offer ice-skating, rock climbing, and even zip lining. All of these activities can lead to injuries and sore muscles. In addition, some people experience vertigo on (and even after) being on a cruise. Mal de debarquement syndrome (MDDS) is the vertigo experienced after the vacation, which includes the sensation of still being on a rocking boat. The symptoms include ear ringing (tinnitus), an unsteady gait, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating. It mainly affects middle-aged women, especially after a 7-night cruise.1 Vertigo may also be an on-board problem. The loss of hearing, imbalance, and nausea are “vestibular disorders, which affect the inner ear and brain”. Headache and neck stiffness may also occur.2 As a result of injuries, accidents, and other discomforts that can arise on vacation, many travelers might seek medical help. Fortunately, cruise ships offer that kind of assistance, as well as massage therapy.
Cruise Ship Massage Therapy
Many cruise ships offer massage therapy in their spas. Royal Caribbean International, for example, offers many different types of massage therapies, including reflexology, deep tissue massage, Swedish massage, stone therapy massages, Thai massage, and aromatherapy.3 For the patients who experience vertigo on the ship, there are many massage techniques (based on acupressure) that could help. The masseuse can first wrap their hands around the head of the client, leaving their thumbs on tops of the head, pressing gently downwards and out. Next, they can massage the points behind the ears in a circular motion. Placing the thumbs on the back neck muscle, by the hairline, is another massage point. There is also a point on the ankle near the Achilles tendon that can be massaged.4
Requirements and Training
The training and requirements for a cruise ship massage therapy position depend on where the therapist is from. North American candidates, for example, would need at least a “license in massage therapy or a diploma in Swedish massage with Anatomy and Physiology”. European, Australian and New Zealand, and South African candidates have other requirements. Therapists from all nations need to be qualified in Swedish massage. Pay depends on the cruise ship line, ship size, and gratuities.5 There are pros and cons to be being a cruise ship massage therapist. Pay can be limited, although room, board, and meals are provided. The time commitment can include 10-12 hour days and 4-8 month contracts. There is little privacy on a cruise ship. The advantages to the therapist, though, include gaining plenty of experience in many treatment modalities, and having the benefits of traveling and seeing new locations.6