From Cruise Ships to Resort Spas: Meet a Traveling Esthetician!


As most of you know, I make appearances in various cities each year to give consultations (and facials in New York, Dallas and Los Angeles) to my clients all over the world. Some times during these travels, I have the pleasure of meeting other estheticians as well. Recently, I met an amazing esthetician/massage therapist in St. Croix. From a very young age, this woman had a clear vision of her career goal—to be an esthetician in exciting and exotic locations. I loved her passion so much that I thought my esthetician readers would particularly enjoy her story…

Meet Celena Votel. 

Celena grew up in Florida and started her career in esthetics at the age of 18. Now, at the age of 29, she has been an esthetician for 11 years and a massage therapist for 10 years.

Originally, Celena went to esthetics school to learn how to properly care for her own skin, but along the way she discovered she had a passion for helping others with their skin too. In addition to pursuing her career in esthetics, Celena also had a deep desire to travel the world. She discovered that by pairing her skin care knowledge with massage therapy, she would be able to seek employment at high-end resort spas and cruise ship spas.

Over the course of her career, Celena has been employed at the following spas:

2003—Wyndham Resort and Spa, Bermuda

2004-2006—Imperial Salon and Spa, Florida

2006-2009—Royal Caribbean Cruises (Steiner spas): Caribbean/Panama route, Europe route, Australian and Alaska route

2010—Ritz Carlton and Wyndham Sugar Bay, St. Thomas Virgin Islands

2011-2012—The Buccaneer, St. Croix Virgin Islands

2013-present—The Lodge and Spa at Brush Creek Ranch Inn, Wyoming

Celena’s personal goal is to visit all 7 continents by the age of 30 and 100 countries by age 40. Working in a spa has given her the opportunity to get closer to these goals, as does the flexibility of a job in esthetics. She generally works from October-May, the peak season for spas, and then travels with friends from June-September.

Does this career sound good to you? I think so! Below, Celena discusses the pros and cons of working on cruise ships and resort spas and shares advice to those interested in pursuing a career like hers.

What are the pros and cons of working at a spa on a cruise ship?

Cruise Ship Pros:

Of course, the biggest pro to cruise ships is the travel! You are not allowed to select your destination when you are under your first contract, but after that you have more pull so that the next time you can choose your next destination. I made some amazing friendships working on cruise ships and these remain some of my strongest relationships. The opportunity to work with people from different walks of life and from all over the world helped open my eyes and I have learned a lot as a human being. It’s also nice not having to worry about paying for food or rent!

Cruise Ship Cons:

This does not personally bother me too much, but some people do not like to be away from their friends and family for 7-9 months of the year. Also, there is a lot expected from you on board and you have to have a great personality and ability to adapt and learn quickly. On cruise ships, there is high sales pressure from management to sell retail products, so if you’re not good at sales, it can be stressful. You will work everyday with usually only blocks of time off here and there. A hundred hour work week is not uncommon and even if all those hours aren’t spent performing spa treatments, they are filled with cleaning spa areas, participating in safety drills and work meetings.

What are the pros and cons of working at a resort spa?

Resort Spa Pros:

Working at a resort gives you the opportunity to really get to know an area. I feel like it is a working vacation! Usually resort spas have high and low seasons lasting about 8 months. This will give you just enough time to enjoy the area without getting bored. Most of these spas don’t mind that you will be seasonal so if you have happy feet this is your biggest advantage.

Resort Spa Cons:

Sometimes the destination isn’t as rosy as you thought it would be. This might be due to your pay not being as high as promised, you might not like your apartment or living area or maybe you don’t meet as many friends as you thought you would. It can be both exciting and scary to move somewhere where you don’t know anyone, but it’s still worth the risk! I have moved a few places that I did not like, so I simply just moved again!

What advice would you give an esthetician or massage therapist who would like to travel and work in different areas of the world?

First and foremost DO YOUR RESEARCH. Make sure you find out when the start of the season is for the destination you are interested in and then plan to be there a month beforehand when they are starting to hire. Don’t come right at the start of the season or the positions will already be filled.

Make sure you research what kind of qualifications you need like licensure or visas, etc. Sometimes getting these necessary items can take weeks or months so be prepared!

Look at the destination’s website to see the size of spa so you will know the demand and if you will be a good fit. Look at the treatments they offer. Do you do any of them? Do you do any treatments they don’t have? What seems to be overall feel of the spa? These are things to consider when applying.

Make sure you have availability and ask questions. Most of the time, your availability is more of an advantage than your experience. Don’t be afraid to call the spa and ask the manager questions. Use social media outlets like Facebook to seek out current or past employees and send them a message about what it’s like to work on the cruise ship or at the resort you are considering.

When moving, try not to sign a long lease at first. When you first relocate, try and find a short-term lease at a hotel so that you can work a few weeks and understand your budget. Then decide if you want to rent an apartment or stay an extended stay hotel. If you are not planning on driving to work, make sure you live close to public transportation or walking distance to work. A great website for moving questions or short-term stays is

Where are your upcoming destinations either for work or for travel?

My upcoming pleasure travel is Antarctica in February 2013 (my last continent–yay!). I am planning to apply for UAE (United Arab Emirates) in particular, Dubai for my next work destination.

Any other thoughts you’d like to share with my readers?

Change is scary, but you don’t want look back and wish you had done things when you had the chance. You won’t always have all the answers when you move and you will never have enough money to feel 100% comfortable doing it, but sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith and hope for the best! I have truly enjoyed everywhere I have worked, some more than others, but each was an amazing experience. I have learned so many different techniques from therapists I have worked with over the years and they have been key in furthering my education. You only have now and tomorrow isn’t a guarantee so get out there and start living! If anyone wants to reach out to me personally with questions, email me at

Read: One Esthetician’s Journey to Texas

Read: Supporting Estheticians Around the Globe

Read: Why I Love Being an Esthetician

Read: Renée Rouleau Shares The Pros and Cons of Being an Esthetician

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