Donna Kim-Brand

Cruise Control Hair Styles!

Cruises are the ultimate in travel adventures and extremes- casual by day and elegant by night, styles for relaxed fun or professional sleekness, wet looks seaside or poolside and dry looks for portside excursions and on-deck activities, a need for tropical protection or arctic cool, and always windy. What’s a girl to do without taking a cabin full of suitcases? Here are a few ideas for simple and easy hair styles and accessories to put your cruise looks on cruise-control!

Cut it Short-

Always an option, you could opt for a tousled pixie cut, sleek gamine look or fully shaved head for a ‘wash and go’, carefree approach to your cruise hairstyle. A cruise is the perfect occasion to try out a new, possibly daring and dramatic look. Just remember to pack sunscreen and appropriate hair accessories for this style if different from your usual one.


The all-time favorite cruise style for those with hair long enough is braids, in all their variety and glory. The side-swept braid keeps hair off your neck and off your face. Braids on both sides of your head give a casual, playful look and will feel less weighty if they get wet. For a splash of color or a dash of romance you can weave in ribbons as you braid.

A twist, literally, on the braid is a twisted rope-braid style, where instead of the classic 3 strand braid you twist 2 halves of hair tightly into one line at the back or side of your head. Use hairspray to hold the wispy bits in place. Now further twist the whole braid into a bun and pin into place with as many bobby pins as needed to secure the twirled bun to your head and within itself. Spray again and head out for your cruise fun.

You could also go to bed with lightly wet braided hair, and awaken in the morning to a raft of soft waves in your hair for an easy look that can be dressed up or down.


No Caribbean cruise is complete without trying out cornrows at least once, either a single strand or a head-full. Originating in Africa centuries ago, cornrows can be made to tell their own story through their design and decoration. Most cornrow strands are topped off with colorful beads or shells, depending on your location, preference and budget. The experience of sitting for an hour or more while your hair is being sculpted is sure to be a highlight of your trip if you use the time to take in the local language and colorful personalities at your service.

Straight cornrows start at your forehead and are taken in neat rows across the top of your head down the back in flat thin rows of tight braids. The key is neatness, so you or your stylist should use a comb for best results. Your hair will be off your face and easy to care for wet or dry. You even shampoo with the braids in. This style tends to last for weeks, if you can get used to the pulling effect on your tender scalp!

A variation made famous by the rapper Ludacris, and sometimes called ‘Ludacris Rows’, is angled cornrows, where the braided rows start over one eye and angle across the top of your head to dangle from there; a touch more elegant or edgy than straight cornrows depending on who’s wearing the look or what you are wearing.

Weaved cornrows are more of a sculptural design, where straight cornrows are braided to the crown of the scalp then woven together across your head for an artistic look.

Whichever cornrow style you choose, it’s a no-muss, no-fuss, low-key style that lets everyone know you’ve been cruisin’!

Ponytails and Buns-

You can’t leave out the old standbys, ponytails and buns, which secure your hair away from your face on a hot, windy day and allow you a range of styles- up, down, back, side, tight or loose, curly or straight, casual or elegant, professional or romantic, day or evening, wet or dry. That’s a tall order!

Your chosen style will depend on your preference, your activities, your hair texture and how it reacts to salt air and moisture. Just remember to bring along some coated elastic bands in a variety of colors, bobby pins or hair clasps, a sock bun donut, and maybe some ribbons or jeweled strands for evening elegance.

Scarves, Wraps and Headbands-

Finally, you should bring along several accessories that express your vibrant, carefree, theatric personality. You’re on a cruise in foreign waters, after all, so why not be a bit daring?

Catch some YouTube videos on how to wrap scarves to cover your whole head or part of your head if you like your bangs exposed. You can choose scarf colors to match your wardrobe or go wild with tropical colors and patterns that make their own statement. You can also pick up some scarves on your travels as functional mementos.

Wraps tend to come already formatted, so to speak, for ease of use. So they act as hats or require simple 2-3 stroke wrapping actions to cover your head and hair. Easy peasy, and oh, so couture.

If it’s your style, also pack headbands, both soft and stiffer band varieties in both casual and dressy styles, plus barrettes, bobby pins, ribbons and hair accents.

Then remember, cruising is meant to be relaxing and fun, with time to enjoy yourself and the company you came with as well as to meet new friends. Ease, grace and flexibility are the operative terms when choosing your cruise hair styles. A bit of advance planning and a spirit of fun will pave the way for a trip to be remembered for all the right reasons. Ship ahoy!

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