Cruise nails ideas to try on your vacation

27 Jun 2024

The pre-vacation checklist can feel endless, with tasks ranging from documents to packing and purchases.

To add to that list, you also want to look your best during a cruise.

Depending on your preferences, you might want your hair, lashes, and nails done before a cruise.

However, there's a way to shorten this to-do list and simplify the process.

Getting beautiful nails before your cruise doesn't have to be time-consuming or expensive.

Here's how I get cute, sturdy cruise nail styles in just a few minutes.

How to do your nails for a cruise

Calista tried the best seasickness remedies

For a convenient and cheap way to do your nails, I highly recommend press-ons.

The nice thing about press-ons is that they range in price, so they can fit any budget.

If you'd like a cheap set, you can find options for as little as $6. If you'd like a more quality set of nails, you can find handmade and custom options for $50 and above.

All you need to apply them are the nails, nail glue, and a nail file.

They can easily fit inside a carry-on bag, or quickly be applied before your cruise.

Press-ons have risen in popularity in recent years, with celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Rihanna sporting them on vacation.

You can find endless styles of press-ons in stores and online—I purchased mine from Amazon.

First, you'll want to start with a set of press-on nails.

Your pack of nails should come with a nail file and a cuticle pusher.

Your set may also come with a pack of jelly tabs for adhesive.

I don't recommend using these, especially on a cruise. These tabs are designed to come off in water, so washing your hands or going into the pool will cause your nails to fall off.

Instead, purchase a strong nail glue—I like the Kiss or Sassi brands.

To prepare your nails, make sure they are clean and dry, and cut as short as possible.

Use an alcohol wipe to clean them off, and then push back your cuticles.

After this, you'll need to file your nails thoroughly. Filing them gives the nail glue a rough surface to stick to.

The nail file that comes with your press-ons should work fine, but I also like to purchase my own for a stronger hold and finer grit.

After filing, you can start to glue down the nails.

Start from your pinky fingers and do your thumbs last (this gives you enough strength to push down the nails with your thumbs).

Apply a small amount of glue in the middle of the press-on nail, and then spread a thin layer over your real nail. Make sure the glue is distributed evenly, without getting any on your skin.

Let the glue dry for a minute to 30 seconds, and then carefully press the fake nail onto your real one.

Be careful to line it up evenly, because you only have a short amount of time to adjust the angle before the glue dries.

After the nail is applied the way you like, press down on the nail to stick it to your finger.

Continue this process with each hand.

Once all of your nails are applied, try to keep your hands dry for about half an hour. This will give them the chance to set and dry securely.

Depending on how experienced you are, the whole process should take 15-30 minutes.

You can easily apply press-ons while in the packing process, instead of trying to rush to make an appointment with a nail salon before your departure.

Press-on nails don't use many supplies. You don't need a UV light to cure them or an electric nail file. 

They can also be packed up in a bag, and you can apply them at the beginning of your cruise!

Cruise nail ideas

What kind of nails should you do for a cruise?

Nail styles are so fun because you can change the theme depending on the occasion.

Press-on nails are also a great way to do this because they can be applied and removed quickly and easily. 

Even if your cruise is just for a weekend, you can apply these nails in a matter of minutes and remove them when the cruise is over.

The classic patterns for a cruise would involve blue or ocean themes, such as blue swirls or seashell and pearl styles.

However, you can also switch up your style and go as creative as you want.

Tropical flowers, summery fruit, or sea animals would all be cute styles for a cruise.

You could even style your nails based on the cruise's itinerary.

For a Mediterranean cruise, try designs like:

  • Blue and white tile
  • Classical or Impressionist art 
  • Simple French tips

For a Caribbean cruise:

  • Beach waves
  • Hibiscus flowers
  • Sunset colors
  • Palm trees and coconuts

For an Alaskan cruise:

  • Glow-in-the-dark
  • Whale tails
  • Mountains and icebergs

For a cruise to Mexico:

  • Tequila and lime
  • Tropical fruit
  • Starfish and sea turtles

For a cruise in Asia:

  • Lily pads
  • Cherry blossoms
  • Cute cartoons like Sanrio characters

For my recent cruise, I went with a light pink and white pearly pattern.

The textured patterns and pearl charms were reminiscent of sea animals and a mermaid theme, while the pink and white took the nails beyond a basic ocean look.

I choose a medium-length almond style, perfect for a cute look while also leaving me lots of room for movement.

I also tried a long coffin style on a recent cruise.

These nails were a cute nude to blue ombre, featuring white hibiscus flowers.

The pattern was cute and stylish, matching the blue and ocean themes all around.

However, these nails were very long. The longer your nails, the less mobility you'll have.

If you're less experienced with wearing long nails, consider what activities you want to do on your cruise before applying them.

If you'd like to be active and have a lot of mobility on your cruise, I recommend purchasing shorter nails.

More press-on nails ideas for cruisers:

I went on four cruises and found the best way to protect Black hair on vacation

05 Dec 2023

We live in a world that has not always provided the resources or public perception for us to best care for Afro-textured hair.

Because of this inherent bias, it can be hard to begin a natural hair journey. 

Committing to your healthiest natural hair is a life-long process that takes work and requires you to find the resources you need to care for your hair wherever you are. 

As someone who has worn my hair naturally my whole life, I knew that beginning to cruise would mean its own journey of discovering how best to care for my hair.

After having been on my fourth cruise, I’ve been able to explore and experiment with what styles work best for my hair while cruising. 

I’ll start by explaining the main challenges cruising poses for natural hair and then provide the solutions I’ve discovered from my experience.

What are the challenges of caring for natural hair on a cruise?

The elements

Cruises are an amazing way to get up close and personal with nature. On ships, there are pools with water and lovely views of the ocean. 

On ports, you can experience everything, from beaches to mountain hikes to jungle adventures.

Depending on the cruises’ ports-of-call, your hair could face many different climates and elements.

At the very least, you will be exposed to wind, water, and salt—all elements that can challenge your hair-care journey.

The wind can muss up and tangle your hair. Salt is known to be damaging and drying, and you’ll want to hydrate your hair or even wash it out if exposed. And depending on your hairstyle, water can ruin the look!

Time limitations

Taking care of natural hair can be time-consuming. Afro-textured hair is beautiful but often requires a more gentle hand. 

Especially for those with longer hair and women who prefer more complex styles, caring for our natural hair can take up a lot of time.

Natural hair has a tighter, coarser curl pattern that requires more attention and careful detangling.

Moisture retention is also a concern, requiring frequent deep conditioning and moisturizer.

Although it depends on the individual experience, a wash day can take one or more hours. 

Personally, when I wear my thick, natural curls out, doing my hair can add 20-30 minutes to my morning routine.

Therefore, it’s important to be mindful of the hairstyle you choose to wear on your cruise so you don’t cut into any precious vacation time.

Packing space


In addition to taking some extra time, certain products are essential to pack along for your natural hairstyles. Daily, many people use moisturizers, edge control, and detangling tools.

On a wash day, many more products could be required.

It’s best to prevent washing your hair while on a cruise since wash day can take so much time and energy. If you do expect you’ll need one—whether you’re taking a longer cruise or expecting your hair to get dirty—it’s important to bring all your own supplies. 

The provided 3-in-1 body and hair wash on Royal Caribbean ships will only strip your hair, and a good conditioner and leave-in product are always essential for a good wash-and-go. 

To best care for your curls, select a gentle shampoo, a leave-in conditioner, and preferred styling items like gel.

Products also need to be packed securely to prevent leaks.

Satin pillowcases, bonnets, and scarves are also important to protect your hair at night.

Although hair dryers are present in ship bathrooms, you’ll also want to consider packing your own preferred methods of drying your hair, whether you prefer a diffuser, a microfiber towel, or air-drying. 

It’s important to plan ahead and pack carefully to keep your natural hair looking beautiful. However, certain hairstyles can minimize the amount of products you need to bring along.

Read more: 40 essential things to bring on a cruise

I tried different ways of wearing my hair on my four cruises

Calista boarding Wonder of the Seas

I went on my first cruise in August and learned so much from that experience. 

On that cruise, I decided to wear short, natural braids without any braiding hair added. This was a great hairstyle, as it was lightweight, short, and required very little product.

The only downside was that this style is a little less protective since it relies on my natural hair.

While I respect people who always wear their natural hair out and limit protective styles, this hasn’t worked for me on a cruise.

On my second cruise, I wore my natural hair, beginning with a braid-out and wearing it loose for the rest of the cruise.

This was tough. Wearing it out meant I still had to wake up and style my hair every morning, and even when I changed outfits.

In addition to that, my hair got wet, both in the ocean and pool, and I didn’t bring enough hair supplies to wash it while on the ship.

I had to spend two days with dry, tangled hair, keeping it in buns.

Thankfully, my second cruise was a shorter, 3-night sailing, so I could survive the few days without a wash. I just kept adding leave-in conditioner and detangling my hair daily. 

After that cruise, I learned my lesson and concluded that protective styles are the best way for me to protect my hair, save time, and prevent needing a wash day.

For my third cruise, I wore braids again, and they saved me time getting ready in the mornings. 

However, my hair again got soaking wet while I was snorkeling, causing the braids to look frizzy and old. I had to take them out as soon as I got home. 

On my fourth cruise, I once again wore long braids, and this time was careful to keep them dry. This meant that I didn’t do many involved water activities, but my hair stayed looking nice!

Based on my experience, I recommend short and simple protective styles

In the future, I think the best way to keep my hair healthy, maintainable, and looking good throughout the cruise—while still enjoying activities to the fullest—would be to wear a protective style and bring along a swim cap to prevent it from getting too wet. 

Protective styles such as braids allow you to save time, look good, and protect your hair from the elements. 

When I wear braids, I only have to pack a few items: edge control, mousse, and a couple styling tools. If they do get wet, hair dryers are already available in the staterooms. 

On my cruises, I most often see other Black people wearing braids, but there are other protective styles, too!

If you have locs, there is a built-in protective style that needs no extra work to be cruise-ready.

Crochet styles, weaves, or even sew-ins would also work. 

I personally don’t like the heavy, hot feeling of weaves and wigs—especially on tropical or beach vacation cruises. However, I have also seen other Black people wearing them on cruises, so it’s all a matter of preference!

I personally prefer braids, but also want to try other protective styles, such as Bantu knots, twists, and head wraps.

Of course, you don’t have to limit yourself to just one hairstyle.

On my first cruise, I laughed at a friend who took out his cornrows halfway through the 7-night sailing. 

In hindsight, there’s nothing wrong with switching it up!

You could plan multiple different hairstyles, and you even have the option to get braids done at various Caribbean ports where natural hair services are offered.

The best way to protect Black hair on a cruise vacation

What to wear to dinner on your Royal Caribbean cruise

29 Jul 2013

What to wear on your Royal Caribbean cruise is a source of controversy among fans and a never-ending source of debate. Nonetheless, dinner time on a Royal Caribbean cruise comes with suggested dress attire and for first-time cruisers, what you should and should not wear can be confusing.

The good news is cruising these days is a far cry from the "old days" in the last century when it was ball gowns and tuxedos with tails and top hats.

Royal Caribbean is pretty open about what you can wear throughout the cruise but at dinner time, there are still a few elements of formality left to consider. And for those who don't want to dress up beyond t-shirts and shorts, Royal Caribbean has options for you as well.


Matt in the MDR

The casual dress code is defined by Royal Caribbean as, "Sport shirts and slacks for men, sundresses or pants for women." 

This basically means its clothing that is a step up from what you might wear around the ship during the day. Often during the day, guests will wear shorts, t-shirts, and other pool-friendly clothing. The casual dress code means it should be nicer than that, with the suggestions we see above.

In our experience, we see men wearing long pants with polo shirts with khakis or "nice jeans" (no holes) and a collared shirt. 

For women, we often spot sundresses or just a nice blouse. The best way I can describe it is what you would probably wear to visit your grandmother on a holiday.

Main dining room family

Casual night dress code is the most common dress code you will find on your cruise and it's the easiest to pack for.

Also, Royal Caribbean states, "Please keep swimwear to the pool deck. Shorts are welcome for breakfast and lunch. Bare feet are not allowed at any venue. Tank tops are not permitted."

Smart Casual

Main dining room

The smart casual dress code is the next step up from casual. Royal Caribbean defines it as, "Jackets and ties for men, dresses or pantsuits for women."

For men, you can swap out the polo shirts for collared shirts and add a jacket with a tie. 

Royal Caribbean states, "Jackets, sports coats, and blazers are snazzy and welcome."

For women, this can be dresses, skirts, blouses, and pantsuits.

Smart casual clothing is the sort of clothing you might wear on a religious holiday to a place of worship. 

Formal Nights

Family in dining room

The formal night dress code is the most stringent in terms of formality (hence the name) and Royal Caribbean defines formal clothing as, "Suits and ties or tuxedos for men, cocktail dresses for women."

Formal night clothing is what you would probably wear to a traditional wedding and should be a step up from any other night's clothing. You may see some men wearing tuxedos, but a vast majority of men on Royal Caribbean cruises these days opt for a two or three-piece suit.

For women, it's an opportunity to dress up as much as possible, with evening gowns, cocktail dresses, and lots of accessories. 

Read more: Royal Caribbean formal night: What to wear

How often formal nights are offered depends on the length of your cruise and the itinerary. This also differs from ship to ship. Generally, it follows this pattern:

  • 3-5 nights: 1 formal night
  • 6-7 nights: 2 formal nights
  • 8-10 nights: 2 formal nights
  • 11-14 nights: 3 formal nights
  • 15+ nights: 3 or 4 formal nights

Chef's Table enforces a formal dress code policy.

What about kids?


Children are expected to follow the evening's dress code just as closely as adults. There may be a little more leeway in terms of the degree of formality for children's clothing, but at the same time, children are expected to be dressed up more than what they would wear during the daytime. 

For boys, polo shirts and nice pants will suffice for most evenings and girls can wear dresses, skirts, and sweaters.

Specialty Restaurants

Family eating at Chops Grille

The specialty restaurants onboard have their own dress code each evening, which supersedes what the main dining room dress code may be. Of course, you can always overdress for these restaurants by wearing more formal attire, but that's up to you.

A trick some veteran cruisers will try is booking specialty restaurants on formal nights of their cruise with the rationale that if you have to dress up anyway for the specialty restaurant, then you may as well do it on a formal night and "kill two birds with one stone."

What are the theme nights?

Couple in main dining room

On a typical Royal Caribbean cruise, you will find in the Cruise Compass there is a certain dress code in the Main Dining Room every night. Here are some examples of theme nights you will see:

  • Casual: Jeans, polo shirts, golf or Bermuda shorts, t-shirts, blouses
  • Dress To Impress/Dress Your Best/Formal: Suits, sports coats, cocktail dresses, gowns
  • Caribbean/Tropical: Tropical prints, pastel colors, linen shirts, Bermuda shorts, sundresses
  • White Night: Casual attire, but white!
  • 70s/80s Night: Bell-bottom jeans, polyester suits, wide lapel shirts, maxi dresses, mini skirts, knee-high boots, platform shoes
  • Country: Flannel tops, jeans, cowboy boots, cowboy hats

What if I do not want to get dressed up?

Matt on Freedom of the Seas

The fact is you do not have to dress up at all for dinner on your cruise. 

Royal Caribbean gives you the option of dining in your stateroom (room service is complimentary), at the Windjammer buffet, or at another casual restaurant onboard like Sorrento's or Playmakers.

In either case, you can wear anything other than swimsuits (with shoes) to dinner and it will be perfectly acceptable.

Read more: What to wear on a cruise that works for all dress codes

Is the dress code enforced?

Matt dining solo in the Main Dining Room

Officially Royal Caribbean states they will enforce the dress code every night, however, the reality is the staff cannot screen everyone and what they are wearing.

There are plenty of cruisers out there that will tell you about people they have seen at a restaurant wearing shorts or a tank top. Moreover, people may cite what others are wearing isn't formal enough for the suggested dress code of the evening. Inevitably, it's a decision the Royal Caribbean staff will make depending on the situation.

The dress codes offer suggestions but they are starting points for what to wear. Because Royal Caribbean does not explicitly list everything that you may not wear, there's room for interpretation by passengers. Nearly every description of dress codes for Royal Caribbean cruises mentions passengers should not wear shorts, but you will likely see someone on your cruise wearing shorts in the restaurants.

Cruise outfits for dinner on a Royal Caribbean cruise
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