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Tips, tricks, and ideas for the perfect cruise nails

cruise nails

When it comes to preparing for a cruise, we often think about things such as picking an itinerary, choosing shore excursions, deciding on whether or not to purchase various drink or spa packages, and packing! However, another thing to add to the cruise planning checklist might be your nails.

What are some options when it comes to having pretty nails for a cruise vacation? Here are some tips and tricks for having the best nails for your upcoming cruise sailing. 

Please note that we’ve linked items on Amazon, which contains an affiliate link. This affiliate link costs you absolutely nothing extra, but Cruise.Blog makes a small commission if you purchase it.

Getting your nails done doesn't have to be expensive

viking air

One of my favorite go-to methods for an inexpensive manicure is to purchase stick-on nails! Stick-on nails are a great option for those looking for a quick and easy way to give themselves a manicure at home. Some stick-on nail brands are better than others, so I recommend reading reviews before purchasing. 

Additionally, there is always the old faithful option of using conventional nail polish and giving yourself a manicure at home! 

However, regular nail polish tends to chip easily. While on a cruise, passengers are likely to not only be relaxing but also participating in fun activities or out and about exploring an interesting port. Because of this, conventional nail polish is not usually my first choice for a cruise. 


A big advantage to regular nail polish, though, is that it's easy to touch up throughout a vacation. Simply pack the bottle in your toiletries and you will be prepared for any necessary maintenance during your cruise. 

Get a manicure at the spa ahead of time or once you're onboard the ship


When it comes to a cruise, planning can be part of the fun, and perhaps you are someone who wants to celebrate the start of your cruise adventure. In this case, a manicure at the spa can be a fun and exciting way to celebrate the lead-up to your vacation. 

Spa manicures can greatly vary in price depending on the spa. Usually, I would budget anywhere from $35 to $60 for a professional manicure at the spa. They can, however, be much more if you opt for a specialty service or unique design. 

In order to make your beautiful manicure last the entire cruise, I would recommend getting either a gel or shellac manicure. These methods tend to be stronger and more long-lasting than conventional nail polish. 


Why not wait to get pampered until you’re onboard the ship? Almost every cruise ship has a spa onboard, and many of them offer manicure and pedicure treatments. Once again, I would budget anywhere from around $35 to $100 for a professional manicure treatment onboard a cruise ship.

When looking at a future sailing onboard Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas, the online Cruise Planner advertises a traditional manicure with shellac for $61.99 per guest, while a fire & ice manicure with shellac costs $80.99, or about $20 more. 

If you're looking to save money, it will be best to go to the spa ahead of time; however, getting your nails done onboard can be a fun way to feel pampered during a day at sea to relax and unwind! 

Read more: When is the best time to book a cruise?

Here are some of my favorite options!

DCL Fantasy

My favorite option for pretty nails during a cruise vacation is press-on nails. They are usually very affordable, ranging in price from $5 to $20. Press-on nails can also be very durable and have often lasted my entire cruise, which is a big plus. 

My favorite press-on nail brand is OPI-- specifically the OPI xPress/ON gel-like manicure nails. These nails cost about $14 where I live and can last about 12 days or so, even when doing lots of activities! They can also be purchased on Amazon for about the same price and delivered right to your door!

I recently wore these nails on two separate cruise vacations, one in August onboard the Disney Fantasy, where we went snorkeling, and one in October onboard the Norwegian Star. During this trip, I found myself lugging large suitcases through airports in Europe. These nails lasted and never chipped!

opi nail

They also are available in a wide range of colors to fit lots of different styles. This brand of stick-on nails also comes in long or short lengths. 

My other favorite brand of stick-on nails, which can be a great option, is Kiss Everlasting-- specifically in the Everlasting French design. If you are looking for an inexpensive way to show off a French manicure during your cruise, this is a great option! 

This brand is very affordable at just $5 on Amazon, and while it does not last quite as long in my experience, I have been able to wear these nails successfully for up to 10 days without them chipping or getting ruined. I really enjoy the look of a French manicure, and these press-on nails give me that aesthetic at an affordable price! 


These nail options have been great in my experience. If applied with care, they can be quite long-lasting, waterproof, and activity-proof. This means you can snorkel, ride water slides, or simply relax by the pool to your heart's content without worrying about your nails!

If you aren't a fan of French manicures and would prefer a pop of color, Kiss Everlasting's imPRESS press-on nails are a great option. Found on Amazon for $7, these nails come in a wide range of colors and tend to be shorter in length

A con to these nails is that they tend to not last as long; however, if you are looking for an affordable option for a shorter cruise I would recommend these as well!


The OPI and Kiss press-on nail brands are also easy to find in your local stores, such as Target, Walmart, or CVS. 

Read more: Packing for your cruise? Here are 41 useful things to bring onboard

Tips and tricks to make your cruise manicure last

DCL Fantasy

When it comes to press-on nails or even a conventional nail polish manicure, there are some tips and tricks for how to make it last longer. This can be important if you are looking to make your manicure last the entire duration of your cruise vacation; some sailings can be over two weeks long!

These are the steps that I follow in order to make my conventional nail polish manicure last as long as possible: 

  1. Push back cuticles 
  2. Wipe nail polish remover over bare nails in order to clean and remove any oils
  3. Cut or file nails to the desired shape and length 
  4. Paint nails in the desired color
  5. Let each coat of polish dry completely before applying additional coats
  6. Apply clear top coat and let dry 

 These are the steps that I follow in order to make my press-on nails last the entire cruise: 

  1. Select and layout press on nails from the package that fit your own nails 
  2. Push back cuticles 
  3. Wipe nail polish remover over bare nails in order to clean and remove any oils
  4. Cut or file nails to the desired shape and length
  5. Delicately file the top of each nail to rough up the surface of each nail, this helps the press-on nails grip and last longer
  6. Apply press-on glue to the top of the nail (one at a time) to fully cover the nail 
  7. Apply a dot of glue to the inside of the press-on nail as well and apply it to your finger
  8. Press and hold the press-on nail to your finger for about 30 seconds 
  9. Repeat for each nail 

Read more: Top 40 Cruise Tips & Hacks

When it comes to having pretty nails for an upcoming cruise, there are many options!


(I loved this color of red that I picked out for my fall United Kingdom Europe cruise!)

These are just some of my favorite go-to methods for a quick and easy manicure that also leaves your nails looking beautiful for a vacation. 

Note that this article is in no way sponsored. These are just some of my personal opinions and observations. We simply hope these tips and suggestions help fellow cruisers!

Often times on a vacation, travelers want to look and feel their best. This can mean different things to different people. Something that has been common for a long time and is still a trending phenomenon is getting your nails done before a big vacation, and this can be applied to cruising as well!

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