As you might know, I am going onboard my first cruise ever on the 24th March. It will be the first MSC Preziosa cruise around the Mediterranean and I am lucky enough to be able to be part of it. As I am doing Adventure and Spa project this year, I interviewed Roberto Ladisi – the MSC Spa Supervisor and Corporate Trainer to get a sneak peak of the Aurea spa onboard the MSC Preziosa cruise.
1. How long have you been working as a Spa Supervisor? Have you worked on board a cruise before?
Since I was a child, I’ve had a growing sense of the aesthetic and have been blessed with what some describe as ‘explosive creativity’.
Way back in 1988, when I graduated from Polimoda, the International Fashion University of Florence, I had the honor of being selected in the very first class with a closed number of 25 students.
After that, I immediately started to work in the fashion industry as a designer. Ten years into a growing career in fashion, I was able to take an intensive course in massage, meditation and aesthetics thanks to a relative in Rome who owns an aesthetic and holistic school. You could say it was love at first sight!
As soon as I finished that course, I decided to leave the fashion industry and put my new experience to good use in the world of wellness and relaxation.
I was lucky and immediately found a job as a body therapist on a cruise ship. That was in 1998 and, after my first 6 months, I was then promoted to spa manager and never looked back!
I then joined the start-up of the 5 star Tombolo Resort Thalassotherapy Hotel as spa manager and, after 2 years, I was given the same opportunity for the internationally renowned Hotel Cipriani in Venice, for the start up of its Casanova Spa.
Following those experiences, which gave me a real taste of the luxury world, as well as an insight into the lives of movie stars and high class guests, Ocean View Monaco asked me to take care of the start up of the brand new cruise ship MSC Musica and I became MSC Aurea Spa supervisor for the whole MSC fleet.
2. Why did you choose spa as your work place? Why MSC Preziosa?
I am incredibly lucky in that my job is my passion, my hobby and my lifestyle rolled into one.
At home and in my private life in general, I follow the same wellness rules that I recommend to our guests. Of course, being relaxed at all times is hard to achieve, but I certainly do my best.
MSC Preziosa’s spa is only the latest MSC Aura Spa – there is one on board each and every ship in the fleet – and I am currently very busy taking care of training all the therapists on board on our new signature treatments, created exclusively for this new flagship. Right now, my priority is to ensure that everything spa related for the very first cruise after MSC Preziosa’s christening in Genoa runs smoothly.
3. Is it very stressful to be in charge of the whole spa onboard a cruise or is it more of a relaxing job? (spas is usually a very quiet place with relaxing music and many people working there are happy). What is your daily schedule?
I actually change ship almost every week – I don’t know if the word “stressful” is the correct term to identify my condition! Of course, you get used to it after a while, and it’s very important to be able to separate yourself from the job, which I think I manage well.
The place I work helps keep me relaxed: soothing music, sweet fragrances in the air, and the beautiful smiles and the warmth of each spa team certainly makes it easier.
It is very important for a big company like MSC Cruises to make sure that all of our staff receive regular technical training so, as part of my daily schedule, I usually have a training session to carry out, teaching therapists a new signature treatment or massage, or giving them a refresher course. Every training is then followed by a test.
I usually start at 8:00 and work until early evening, where, after a short briefing with the whole staff, I make sure to dedicate some time only to myself!
4. Why should cruisers try MSC Aurea Spa? What makes it different?
To give you an idea of the ambience inside the spa itself- the MSC Aurea Spa is a 1,700 square metre oriental paradise with an exotic modern decor of natural stones, wood and rich mosaics. Teamed with the scent of essential oils and soft candlelight, and its superb sea views, every traveler who steps inside feels as though they’re being invited to create a personal path to health, wellness and beauty.
As I said before, we focus very much on the technical training and professionalism of our staff, as well as the creation and implementation of new treatments, which I usually create according to a careful observation of the market and the needs and requests of travelers across the MSC fleet. All these efforts are focused on making sure that the spa experience on board an MSC ship is second to none.
We never stop moving forward, just like a cruise ship! Our repeaters, for example, have the opportunity to come back and try something different every time.
The experience of a proper massage, in expert hands, is like a sunset: utterly amazing every time, but always bringing new sensations.
MSC spa relax
5. What special spa packages do you offer onboard MSC Preziosa?
There are no particular packages unique to MSC Preziosa, but she does boast some exclusive new features as well as a special range of facial and body treatments inspired by precious minerals, with “precious” ingredients like hematite, rhodocrostite and malachite with gold!
Specially tailored for couples, we have also installed a stunning Harmony Suite on board MSC Preziosa, designed to enhance the overall spa experience by providing a luxurious private space in which guests can experience harmonious, personalized wellness treatments with their loved ones. Four different rituals can be enjoyed in the Harmony Suite: the Thermal Ritual, Thalasso Ritual, Body & Mind Relax Ritual and the Ultimate Deluxe Thermal Ritual.
On board MSC Preziosa, the traditional thermal area with saunas, steam rooms and a relaxation room has been redesigned to include an exclusive frigidarium ( for an unforgettable cooling experience) and tepidarium (where guests complete the thermal path and relax tired muscles and melt away tension) offering guests a comprehensive thermal experience to eliminate toxins, boost blood circulation and improve the appearance of skin and hair.
An “Enjoy the color” menu in the spa bar will also make its debut on board MSC Preziosa: a menu of delicious juices and smoothies based on the nutritional properties of different coloured fruits and vegetables, each drink designed to enhance the benefits of certain treatments.
6. What makes MSC Aurea Spa and its treatments different from other cruises?
The MSC Aurea Spa offers the largest choice of massages of all the spas on the sea, and a true 360° wellness and spa experience.
We boast a large number of exclusive creations, like the Himalayan Dream massage using Himalayan fossil salts, the Aurea del Mare massage using warmed sea shells, the candle massage involving moisturizing cosmetic candles, the holistic massage, the bamboo massage and so on!
We have a Bali concept spa so, of course, part of our menu is made up of ‘evergreen’ treatments, like the Balinese massage, reflexology massage, shiatsu massage, aromatherapy massage, and hot stone massage.
We have a beauty parlour, with highly trained hairdressers, and on board MSC Divina and MSC Preziosa we have several features exclusive to the cruise world, including a Shu Uemura Art of Hair cabin, where guests can indulge in six sought-after rituals developed by the Japanese master of beauty; all sure to leave hair as soft as Shusu satin.
We have a dedicated nail cabin for various manicure and pedicure treatments, a wonderful fitness centre placed at the prow of the ship (with amazing views), and a spa doctor on board for various ‘deep’ treatments, such as Mya Advance, a real alternative to body sculpting, Q-Frequency radio frequency treatments, and electroporation, a non-invasive, anti-aging medical treatment that allows active substances to get directly into the deep inner ‘derma’ layer of the skin without the use of needles.
Thanks to our close relationship with the food and beverage department, as already said, we have developed the ‘ enjoy the colour’ menu – a new format using the 5 colors of the wellness, so that a guests who would like to spend a cruise ‘floating’ in the wellness, relaxation, and healthy food and drinks, can do just that.
7. How many people work in the MSC Aurea Spa? Are you in charge of all of them?
We have 200 employees and, yes, I take care of all of them!
8. What are the most special spa treatments a cruiser can get in the MSC Aurea Spa? Something no one should miss.
Of course I love all of our treatments, just as a father loves all his children! The special thing about the MSC Aurea Spa is that we are proud to personalize packages to every single guest, so the choice of a treatment is very personal: just as some people likes sweet flavors and some others like savory.
Personally, I love the Himalayan line massage and body treatments, for the great effect they have on the skin, and on the mind as well. These treatments take place on a healing Himalayan salt crystal bed for deep relaxation and detox . When introduced on board MSC Divina last year, this bed was the first of its kind on a cruise ship, and MSC Preziosa’s MSC Aurea Spa also boasts this innovative feature.
The amazing Thermal Area on board MSC Preziosa is also not to be missed. The new, stylish frigidarium offers an unforgettable cooling experience, particularly beneficial after the sauna or steam room. First stop is the ice corner, where guests can use some of the 200kg of ice grains produced a day as a cooling scrub before rinsing off in the multi-function shower. Complete with LED for chromotherapy, and with colours changing depending on the cycle, guests can enjoy three revitalizing 60-second cycles: cold menthol flavoured mist, citrus flavoured rain fall, and the bracing eucalyptus flavoured country air, before relaxing on the dedicated bench. The regenerative tepidarium, a new addition to the relaxation room, completes the thermal path and includes four warming chairs where guests can relax tired muscles and melt away tension.
9. In your opinion, what does the MSC Aurea Spa focuses the most on? What would be its motto?
All of our efforts go into surprising travellers across the fleet with an experience they cannot find in any other floating spa. Research, training and the travelers themselves are our main inspiration.
As I told you about sunset, each spa experience is unique, it is always special, so if I should give you a motto, it would be our “Enjoy something special every day, because life should be measured in moments not minutes.”
Thank you Roberto for such a great insight