The no-name shampoo-shower gel combos found in cruise ship showers, combined with the effects of salt and sun, can leave your hair and skin in a sorry state. Better to devote a bit of luggage space to packing more nourishing products. Here's our list of the best travel toiletries for cruisers who don't want to use the generic stuff found onboard.
The salty air outside and the air conditioning and heating inside can lead to dry skin on your cruise, but it's hard to know in advance if you'll like the smell and feel of the in-cabin body lotion (if you even get any). CeraVe's Moisturizing Lotion is a great choice for travel because it's gentle enough for face and body use, is nonallergenic and fragrance-free and comes in a TSA-approved 3 oz. bottle.
Sometimes the cabin hair dryer feels like someone breathing on you, and you don’t have eons to spend on your hair when a pre-dinner cocktail awaits. Cruisers with jam-packed schedules can benefit from a dry shampoo, such as Living Proof's Perfect Hair Day dry shampoo. Just a few sprays and the product will make your hair less oily while leaving it smelling nice throughout your evening onboard. The 1.8-ounce size is perfect for your carry-on.
Whether you need a final touch for your full morning routine or just want to spritz your hair into shape before your tour, a leave-in conditioner is a must-have for cruise travelers. Most help to reduce frizz and detangle knotty locks, but you can get even more out of the right product. It's a 10's Miracle Leave-in Plus Keratin helps protect and strengthen hair, while Stream2Sea's Sulfate Free Leave-in Hair Conditioner with Sun Protection protects your hair color on sunny beach days -- and does not contain any ingredients that will be damaging to freshwater and seawater ecosystems.
A pack of facial wipes replaces two liquids you'd otherwise have to check -- face wash and makeup remover. Neutrogena's Cleansing Makeup Remover Facial Wipes not only remove your makeup (including waterproof mascara) but also get rid of dirt and oil to keep your face clean. Throw a pack in your day bag when you're out on a tour in case you need some midday refreshing.
If you're trying to minimize liquids to pack in your cruise luggage, check out Lush's Godiva shampoo bar. It's also a twofer, cleansing and conditioning hair with ingredients like nut oils and shea butter. If you're into the brand's philosophy of using organic, vegetarian ingredients with minimal preservatives and packaging and no animal testing, you could stock your toiletry kit with the company's soaps, lip balms and other body products.
Guys can also go minimalist with packing by choosing a three-in-one cleanser that serves as a shampoo, face wash and shower gel. Jack Black's All-Over Wash has a clean smell that's not overpowering. We couldn't find a travel size, unfortunately, so it's either one and done in your checked luggage, or you can decant it into a travel-sized bottle.
Cruising as a family can be a packing nightmare -- are you really going to take separate toiletries for mom, dad and the kids? A multipurpose cleanser can be a boon here. We like the Everyone 3-in-1 Soap for Kids, which is a shampoo, body wash and bubble bath all in one. The pineapple and coconut scent are perfectly tropical for your Caribbean sailing, and the ingredients are tyke-safe with no parabens, synthetic dyes or synthetic fragrances.
Most travelers we know don't like to change up their cleaning routines when they cruise, plus many of the best products don't come in travel-friendly sizes. The solution? Pick up some reusable, TSA-sized containers and pour, scoop or squeeze your beauty favorites into smaller sizes to fit into your quart-sized Ziploc or stash in your suitcase. The most popular option are Humangear's GoToobs, which come in three sizes. (The largest is still a carry-on friendly 3 oz.) If you want cylindrical options for makeup, creams or even pills, check out HAL's BPA-free Silicone Cosmetic Containers (not to be confused with cruise line Holland America).