We Experienced The Newest and Largest Norwegian Thermal Suite At Sea on Norwegian Joy

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During its recent multi-million dry dock refurbishment the Norwegian Joy had a number of enhancements and changes made to its layout. One of which was the addition of the largest Norwegian Thermal Suite at sea, with the expansion of the Mandara Spa.

We were on the ship’s first sailing following the 2024 dry dock period. An 11-day transatlantic repositioning cruise from Southampton to Miami in February.

Prior to that cruise, we had been told that the Norwegian Joy Thermal Suite would NOT be opening during the cruise, as work would not be fully completed during dry dock.  We learned during an officer-led Q & A presentation that this was primarily due to rules on inspection and certification causing some delays.

However, as luck would have it, the thermal suite was opened to invited guests on the last full day of the cruise, to allow them to experience the facility firsthand.

We were very fortunate to have been included in that invitation, and this is our review of the Norwegian Joy thermal suite.

Full disclaimer – we did not pay for this experience. We were for a complimentary visit. Some areas of the suite were still not fully operational. So please factor that in mind when reading this review.

What Is a Thermal Suite on Norwegian Cruise Line?

The Thermal Suite with Floor to Ceiling Windows looking out from the Aft of the ship
The Thermal Suite Features Floor to Ceiling Windows

I have to admit, I did not know what to expect when we visited the thermal spa. I can’t actually remember when I was last in a cruise ship spa, sauna, or steam room, as it has never really been “my thing”.

However, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by my experience and it definitely exceeded my expectations – which to be fair were based on my local 1980’s built local town center swimming pool and sauna.

After chatting to the Mandara Spa staff I learned that the thermal suite is meant to be a go-to spot for relaxation and tranquility. It’s an extension of the existing spa experience and is designed to revitalize your body and mind.  Well, I could definitely do with some of that!

Here are some of the facilities that can normally be found in thermal suites on Norwegian Cruise Line ships:

  • Saunas: Choose between a wet sauna and a dry sauna, each offering a different type of heat therapy. The humid air of the wet sauna can aid in opening up your airways, while the dry sauna can assist in muscle relaxation.
  • Steam Room: Let the steam work its magic, moisturizing your skin while the aromatic vapors that help your respiratory system.
  • Salt Room: Sit back in a room filled with salt-aerated air which can be beneficial for your skin and breathing.
  • Additional Amenities: Thalassotherapy pools, Ice rooms, cold plunge pools are other features you might find depending on what ship you are on, each providing various health and wellness benefits.

The Thermal Suite is a capacity-controlled area to maintain a peaceful atmosphere, and users are usually required to be 18 years or older. 

Norwegian Joy Thermal Suite First Impressions

The Stunning Entrance Corridor of the Thermal Suite on Norwegian Joy
The Stunning Entrance Corridor of the Thermal Suite

The Norwegian Joy thermal suite is located on deck 16 within the Mandara Spa. We checked in at the main desk and we were then given a tour of the thermal suite facility by one of the very helpful members of staff.

The staff member patiently described each piece of equipment or area within the suite and explained the health benefits of each one.  She also covered safety, explaining that some items had certain time limits.

She then showed us to the locker area.  There are separate locker rooms for males and females.  You are provided with robes and towels in the locker rooms.

Within the locker rooms, there was a shower area and a couple of desks with mirrors and hair dryers. 

The Gents Locker Room in the thermal suite on Norwegian Joy
The Gents Locker Room

The lockers were secured with combination locks that took a few seconds to get my head around. It seemed I was not the only one as more than a few lockers were actually locked in the open position LOL.

To save you from scratching your head, you need to make sure the lock handle is turned towards the open padlock symbol. Then you set your combination (a single letter and number). You can then lock the locker door and scramble the letters and numbers. 

If you are anything like me, for a split second, you will wonder if you will ever see your valuables from the locker and then frantically dial the combination and check that it works. It does! Phew!  Then as you walk away, you’ll remember that you also had to remember the locker number as well! 

The entrance to the Thermal Suite is stunning!

You are greeted by elegant sculptures that lead you through a beautifully designed corridor leading to the main relaxation area of the suite.  This is at the aft of the ship and features huge floor-to-ceiling windows offering breathtaking views out to sea, very much like the observation lounge at the opposite end of the ship.

Entrance to thermal suite with sculpures  on Norwegian Joy cruise ship

The lounge here is partitioned into three or four sections.  You can find regular cushioned sun lounger-style beds, comfortable seating, and circular sofas. All of which are very comfortable and plush.

I was pleasantly surprised by the overall room temperature. Somehow I had expected it to be perhaps rather too warm, but it is probably just above standard room temperature and felt very comfortable.  At this point I also noticed the ambient sounds of birds and gentle music in the background.

It’s here that you get your first introduction to the thermal suite equipment as you will see lots of hot ceramic tile beds. 

You will also spot the futuristic four senses pods which glow different colors depending on what mode the pods are currently in.

As you walk around to the right you then enter the main “wet area” corridor which houses all the main treatment rooms.

Once again it was beautifully designed and there are information panels at each room or area explaining what the key benefits are. 

A Video Tour of the Thermal Suite on Norwegian Joy

Here is some video from our visit to the new thermal suite, which hopefully gives you a better idea of the layout.

Norwegian Thermal Suite – What Spa Treatments Are Available?

The new thermal suite is the largest in the Norwegian’s fleet, so it has a lot to offer.  But even then a number of my fellow cruisers voiced some disappointment which I will get to. But let’s go through everything you will find within the suite.

Heated Ceramic Loungers

The Hot Stone Cermac Loungers in the thermal suite on Norwegian Joy
The Hot Stone Cermac Loungers Were Very Comfortable

As mentioned above, this is probably the first piece of equipment you will spot in the main suite area as there are lots of them (46 in total). These are s-shaped and contoured to your body, to allow you to relax.

The heat from these hot stone loungers can help to ease muscle tension and apparently promotes a sense of calm. They suggest a 30-minute session on these.

I enjoyed these, but Morag felt the heated stone lounger was too warm. However, I believe the output temperature can be adjusted if you ask one of the Spa specialists.

The Four Senses Pods

Alan Hutchison relaxing in the futuristic four senses pods in the thermal suite
Yours Truly Relaxing In the Four Senses Pods

Next, you will spot the very futuristic four senses pods. Offering more than just heat, the Four Senses Pods engage your body with a combination of heat, vibration, aroma and soothing sounds. Together, these four therapies are meant to stimulate your senses, increase blood circulation, and can help you reach a state of equilibrium.

To be honest, either I didn’t give these long enough or my body is just not sensitive enough to experience these subtle nuances. Perhaps I didn’t give them long enough? You are meant to give them a full 30-minute cycle.  I lasted about 5 minutes wondering what it was meant to be doing. 

It’s fair to say the four senses pods were wasted on me, but your experience will I am sure be different.

The Hot Tub

The Hot Tub in the thermal suite on NCL's Norwegian Joy
The Hot Tub

As you walk around the thermal suite you arrive at what I described as “the wet area”.  This is where you will find all the main treatment rooms or equipment.

First up is what looks like a small hot tub. This was not yet operational, so I have no idea if this is simply a typical hot tub, or if it is meant to other a different hydrotherapy function. 

It did seem quite small, and a few cruisers said that they were hoping for a larger hot tub or a thalassotherapy pool.  In my opinion, there are lots of hot tubs elsewhere on the ship, so I’m assuming the function of this is something slightly different.

Once the suite fully opens, I’m sure its true function will be revealed.

Plunge Pool

Next up is my idea of complete torture LOL.  Dip into the icy Plunge Pool for an invigorating cold therapy experience. This short, sharp treatment is designed to invigorate circulation and is meant to leave you feeling refreshed and revitalized.

Fortunately for me, this area was also not yet fully operational and was out of bounds.

Ice Room

The Ice Room within the Norwegian Thermal Suite
The Ice Room

Next up was the Ice Room. The idea here is to use this immediately after the sauna.

The Ice Room offers an intensely cold environment ideal for brief visits. Spending a short time in here is meant to stimulate circulation and provide a brisk counterpart to the suite’s heat experiences.

I lasted about 30 seconds. But it did feel invigorating and certainly awakens the senses!

Rainfall Ritual

Rainfall Ritual and Pebble Walk within the thermal suite on Norwegian Joy
Rainfall Ritual and Pebble Walk (Image courtesy of NCL)

This area of the sauna is very nicely designed.  The “Rainfall Ritual” is a short curved corridor with different shower patterns. Some are designed to simulate a waterfall-type shower, others like rainfall. It was very nice.

Pebble Walk

Next to the Rainfall Ritual is the “Pebble Walk”. This is intended as a sensory walk that massages and stimulates the soles of your feet, however, I don’t think it was switched on yet as I didn’t notice any effects from walking across the pebbles.


The Thermal Suite Sauna
The Sauna

I have to confess to not really being a fan of sauna’s in general. I did go in briefly and it is a “dry” sauna with digital controls to dispense water onto the hot rocks to make the sauna warmer (Thanks to our fellow Norwegian Joy cruiser Larry Richman for confirming).

The Salt Room

The Thermal Suite Salt Room within the Mandara Spa
The Salt Room

This was something new for me. I’d never experienced a salt chamber before. Salt therapy (or halotherapy) is meant to be good for asthma, bronchitis, and even cystic fibrosis. It’s also well known that salt water helps with eczema, so it was no surprise that this treatment is meant to help your skin as well.  

Aromatic Steam Room

With air conditioning on cruise ships, I always find myself getting a bit bunged up, so I did enjoy the aromatic steam room. 

This room is designed to help clear congestion and also incorporates the healing properties of different aromatics, which are meant to provide a soothing and sensorial experience.  I enjoyed it!

Our Experience of the NCL Joy Thermal Suite

Alan Hutchison of Cruise Nonstop lying on a heated stone lounger in the thermal suite on Norwegian Joy
The Smile Says It All – This Was a Nice Experience

Both myself and Morag enjoyed our complimentary experience. It was very relaxing and I could definitely see myself purchasing a pass for a day. Especially if I was on a cruise to colder climes, or perhaps if I had been under some stress and needed some “me” time.

Having said that, I’m definitely not the person who would purchase a full cruise pass for this, but I can imagine many would.

It was a really nice space to relax in and I could see myself in here for a couple of hours at a time and it would be perfect for a midday nap

One thing I did notice, that I am sure NCL’s staff will seek to mitigate, was external noise. You have this lovely soothing ambient sound of soothing music and birds and then you hear a sudden knock or scraping sound from above. 

The staff said it was weights being dropped in the fitness center, but if you look at the deck plans I reckon a lot of noise was from chairs being dragged on the Spice H20 deck directly above the main part of the thermal suite. Hopefully this will get fixed.

How to Get Access To The Thermal Suite on NCL Cruise Ships

To experience the Thermal Suite on the Norwegian Joy, you’ll need a Thermal Suite pass. Prices aren’t publicly listed as such and can vary by cruise, but expect to pay $299 for a 7 day cruise pass or anything from around $74 for a day pass.

Due to demand, it’s highly recommended to book a spa pass in advance if you can. This is because the number of passes is capacity-controlled to ensure a peaceful experience for guests.  You can do this online via your MyNCL account.

If for some reason you are not able to book the thermal suite online, then the best thing to do is to head directly to the Mandara Spa area and speak with the staff as soon as you get onboard. They’ll give you the lowdown on current availability and costs.

Remember, passes are typically sold for the entire duration of your cruise, so day passes may not always be available.

Our Final Thoughts on our Norwegian Joy Thermal Suite Experience in the Mandara Spa

Part of the main lounge in the thermal suite on the norwegian joy cruise ship
The Cushioned Loungers Were Very Comfortable

Are we giving Norwegian Joy’s new Thermal Suite the thumbs up? As a soothing relaxing area, it is fabulous and it’s stunningly beautiful in its design. But if the focus of your attention is the treatment areas then the jury is still out, as the suite was not yet fully functional.

I know that a lot of people enjoy the thalassotherapy pool seen in other thermal suites on Norwegian Cruise Line and this omission was mentioned the most by our fellow cruisers. It will be interesting to see the feedback from cruisers once the space is fully open.


  • Relaxation: It was definitely one of the nicest spots to relax on the ship.
  • Facilities: You’re spoilt for choice here. From saunas to steam rooms, the thermal suite offers a wide range of facilities designed to soothe and rejuvenate. 
  • Adults-Only: It offers an adults-only environment, providing a quiet and mature atmosphere for relaxation and peace.


  • Cost: Your wallet might feel a bit light after booking; it’s a premium feature with a price to match—expect to pay around $299 for a 7-day cruise, with day passes available from around $74.
  • Popularity: Due to its appeal, securing your spot might be a bit of a scramble, especially on days at sea. It’s popular for a reason, but that means you might need to plan ahead.
  • Noise: There was some noticeable noise interference from the Spice H20 and fitness centers above the suite.

Overall we thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and I will certainly give the Thermal Suite another try if I can purchase a day pass on our next Norwegian Cruise.

Want to know more about Norwegian Joy’s recent dry dock refurbishment? Read our extremely detailed Norwegian Joy review to get a full insight into all of the changes. 

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Alan took his first cruise in 1991 and has been cruising ever since. When he is not writing articles for CruiseNonstop.com you'll find him either on a cruise ship (he's the guy in the kilt), or on the golf course!

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