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Nautica Blue Review: True Blue Bargain or Basic Everyday Scent? 

I love shopping for designer products at a discount. Whenever I’m at one of those rack stores looking for hidden bargains, I make sure to stop at the cologne section. Whenever I do, Nautica Blue is almost always there – usually with a lot of bottles and an incredibly low price tag. So is Nautica Blue really the bargain that it seems to be? 

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The house of Nautica has a large line of inexpensive colognes that focus on the aquatic freshness of seaside life, but Nautica Blue is consistently the most available of their colognes. Is it because Nautica Blue is incredibly popular and a great deal?

nautica blue - bottle and box on rocks

How does it compare to the rest of the Nautica fragrances out there which are often sold at slightly higher prices?  I decided to “take the plunge” and in my Nautica Blue review, we’ll see if it’s a cologne worth adding to your cologne rotation. 

Snapshot of Nautica Blue

  • Fragrance Type: Fruity Aromatic Aquatic
  • Scent Potency / Appropriate For: Medium Plus potency / perfect for casual, daytime, warm weather, beach or vacation. Office friendly.
  • Sillage: Great – projects well, creating a modest scent bubble
  • Longevity: Lasts 3 – 6 hours
  • Price: $

Scent Notes 

Nautica Blue cologne offers an immediate blast of crisp fresh aquatic zestiness that comes off watery and fruity at the same time. There is a warm bergamot citrus bounciness that plays against a note of water lily and sandalwood. The aromatic woody character is balanced with other fruity accords like peach and pineapple that weave in and out through the opening notes. 

Fernweh Editions Fern & Petals Candle

As the scent settles down on my skin, a sweet white jasmine note radiates out, amplifying the fresh nature of the cologne. A slightly green herbal aspect begins to offset the vibrant peach and tropical fruit notes. The aquatic freshness remains throughout, but after a few hours a soft musky woody note settles in and the scent remains clean and aromatic as it dries down. 

Performance

nautica blue cologne bottle on rock

The impact of Nautica Blue is immediate. As soon as I sprayed it on, the aquatic fruity notes filled the air. It performs because of the effervescent nature of the zesty oceanic notes. 

With just 3 or 4 sprays, the sillage for Nautica Blue cologne is pretty strong. It projects out for a few feet and leaves a bright, refreshing scent trail. 

The initial strong projection lasts for about an hour or two at that level and then settles into a pleasant aromatic woody musk. On my skin, the longevity for Blue cologne was solid. It was very noticeable for at least three to four hours. After that – it was still pleasant as a skin scent for a total of about six hours.

The best part of most Nautica colognes are the initial opening notes. They show their exuberance right out of the gate. Blue cologne is no exception. It’s a great quick spray and refresh with a price tag that allows pretty much anyone the confidence to spray at will. 

Who Makes It?

nautica blue - sea in the background

The Nautica cologne collection is manufactured by Coty fragrances, but the brand itself is known for both clothing and home decor styles that reflect a life of living by the seaside. While there are a few Nautica perfumes that are marketed towards women, most of the fragrances in the Nautica line of colognes are geared toward guys. 

Nautica Blue hit the market in 2005 and was the first Nautica cologne created by perfumer Maurice Roucel. The following year, Mr. Roucel also created Nautica Voyage, which is one of the more celebrated fragrances from Nautica. 

In addition to these 2 Nautica creations, Maurice Roucel is famed for his work on the legendary Musc Ravageur from premium brand Frederic Malle. He is a legendary perfumer with over 40 years of history and he continues to create high quality colognes and perfumes year after year. Maurice Roucel truly is a legend in our time. 

The first men’s fragrance in the Nautica line came out in 1992 & was simply called Nautica. It is now known as Nautica Classic. It came in the signature sail shaped bottle with a rounded silver cap, which has become a hallmark design for Nautica colognes in this style. 

This same bottle style was used on Nautica Blue in 2005 and then again on Nautica Blue Sail, which came out in 2017. The sail bottle style also appears on Nautica Blue Ambition which hit the market around 2021 & was used again in the latest addition to the Nautica Blue line with 2023’s Nautica Pure Blue. 

While the bottles may look similar, there is some color variation between the juice in each bottle. Each of the colognes in the collection have a different take on the overall DNA of the aromatic aquatic nature of the Nautica scent line. 

Who Would Like It? 

nautica blue cologne bottle and box

Nautica Blue is super versatile and appealing across all ages. It may not be the most complex scent, but that is what makes it so easy to wear. It has a clean, shower gel freshness that is easy to pull off no matter your age or stage in life. 

Since Nautica Blue is more of a budget cologne, it will often appeal to younger guys on a limited budget. This is a great choice for someone in High School who wants to stay fresh and smell great all day. 

Nautica Blue can also work for guys in a professional environment as well. It’s clean and inoffensive. It projects well, but won’t choke anyone out, as long as I keep my sprays to no more than 4 or 5 at a time. 

Nautica Blue is not the most complex scent out there. It isn’t going to blow anyone’s mind or evolve or change much as the scent develops, nor would I expect it to. At this price, Nautica Blue is your basic everyday aquatic cologne that can be used as a low-cost enhancement to a daily shower routine. 

When and Where to Wear It

This is a great activewear cologne. Something I would keep in my gym bag or toss in my car for a quick refresh after a busy day outdoors working on landscaping or playing football. 

It’s a perfect refresh on a hot and humid day. No matter how sweaty I get, a quick spray or two of Nautica Blue and I’m feeling fresh & ready to keep the activity high. 

While this may not be the most captivating office scent, it would still work well in a professional environment. That’s because it’s clean, refreshing and enjoyable. It doesn’t have any jagged edges or earthy notes that could put off folks who aren’t used to more challenging colognes. It is a quintessential freshy that is easy to like. 

Versatility is the name of the game for Nautica Blue & for pretty much the whole Nautica Collection. They definitely fit in best on hot summer days and the more humid – the better. That causes them to project a bit more. Nautica Blue has an energetic pop that is a perfect match for intense activity and outdoor fun. 

Still – because Nautica Blue has a shower-gel clean freshness, it would fit in fine in cooler weather or in the evening. Just don’t expect it to be a cuddly, cozy or nuzzling fragrance. This is a cologne that matches the sporty activewear that is also a hallmark of the Nautica brand. 

Packaging and Presentation

nautica blue cologne box

Fernweh Editions Candles

Nautica Blue’s price is also reflected in its packaging. It is a single layered, thin cardboard box. Pretty basic and nothing too hefty. The box is a deep blue with a raised Nautica sail logo in the center and standard block lettering for the cologne and brand name. The bottle itself is a solid thick heavy glass shaped like a sail. The cap is a chrome coated plastic that slides into place and while the cap doesn’t actually click in place, it holds snug enough to the atomizer to allow you to pick it up by the cap. 

The shape of the bottle can be a little awkward when spraying, but if you grab the thickest part in the palm of your hand, it flairs out nicely into your fingers, allowing for a solid grip. That’s also the best way to get a good spray off the atomizer, so you may need to rotate the nozzle a bit so that the juice goes where you want it.  

Personal Impressions

I have a pretty solid collection of Nautica colognes. I got hooked on the brand when I first tried Nautica Voyage. I love marine and aquatic fragrances and the unique notes of watery apple, cucumber and lotus that appear in Voyage add a unique and refreshing twist. Voyage is one of the better colognes that you can find at that price point & it was created by Maurice Roucel – the same perfumer behind Nautica Blue – so what about Nautica Blue vs Voyage? Which one is better?

It’s easy to make the comparison, but doing that is kind of unfair. They are both easy on the wallet, from the same brand and by the same perfumer – but Blue acts as more of an easy add-on to a daily shower routine, whereas Voyage has a bit more complexity and uniqueness. Nautica Blue is a bit less complicated and has a very assertive projection. 

I think Blue tends to get more compliments than Voyage because it’s made to be more “in your face” than Voyage. It’s easy to notice and projects well and that is what tends to generate more compliments. Voyage is a little more unique and complex. I actually enjoy the experience of wearing Voyage, but it does not get the level of reaction from others that I get from Blue. 

Nautica Blue smells like a super-fresh blast of oceanic freshness. It almost has an ozonic airiness that adds a driftwood like breeze effect. There is a similarity to Nautica Classic, which uses aldehydes to get that effervescent lift. Blue cologne has that same lightness, but is more brisk and marine. Where Nautica Classic is more soapy, Blue leans even more heavily into a bold aquatic note.

PROS:

  • Clean and invigorating scent
  • Very versatile and can work in most seasons or situations
  • Can be purchased at a bargain price
  • A great choice for the summer weather
  • Sail shaped bottle looks cool on the shelf

CONS: 

  • Aquatic aspects come off as synthetic to some
  • May not be the best choice for a seductive, romantic evening
  • One dimensional scent that doesn’t develop much as it dries down
  • Similar to a lot of other aquatic fragrances
  • Plastic atomizer can be a little wonky at times

Similar Fragrances / Alternatives

nautica blue cologne review

Nautica colognes all have a similar theme. They all tend to focus on life in and around the ocean. If you like that style of cologne, you can’t go wrong by checking out others by the brand. Earlier I mentioned Nautica Voyage, which is a great choice but there are a few flankers of that cologne as well. Nautica Voyage Sport is a bit more citrusy and salty. Nautica Voyage Heritage takes the nautica DNA into a more spicy aromatic direction, which makes it a bit more sophisticated and mature than the other Nautica colognes. Then there is Nautica Voyage N-83 which is a bit more green and minty than the others, yet still oceanic and fresh. 

The aquatic fragrance style is a popular one – especially in warmer climates or during the hotter months and there are plenty of alternatives outside of the Nautica universe. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Cool Water by Davidoff was a hugely popular cologne when it first hit the market in 1988 and continues to be a favorite in this style. It’s minty and fresh with a classic spicy twist. Created by perfumer Pierre Bourdon, many see a striking similarity between Cool Water and his more more expensive creation, Creed’s Green Irish Tweed. Cool Water is not a direct copy of Green Irish Tweed. It has a bit more emphasis on the sea notes and less of the green notes in Green Irish Tweed. 
  • Light Blue Eau Intense Pour Homme by Dolce & Gabbana is a super long lasting aquatic that is incredibly crisp and clean with a vibrant citrus note that brightens up the seaside briskness. It is the perfect summer cologne for both day and night time wear and is powerful enough to pull that off with just one application. 
  • Acqua di Gio Profondo by Giorgio Armani amps up the oceanic nature of the original Acqua di Gio.  There are similarities to the original, but Profondo is stronger, lasts longer and focuses more on the salty aromatic nature of the scent. 
  • Tommy by Tommy Hilfiger is a great choice if you’re looking for an awesome warm weather fragrance without as much of the aquatics found in the others. It’s a refreshing citrus aromatic scent with notes of green apple, mint and lavender. It’s fresh, super clean and generates plenty of compliments without being overtly aquatic. 

Final Thoughts

There are certain colognes that function more like an every day shower gel type scent. There is nothing incredibly unique or groundbreaking about them. These tend to be part of a typical guy’s daily grooming practices. A shower, a shave, a tooth brushing, some deodorant, maybe a little lotion for those with dry skin & a final touch of body spray or a basic cologne. You’re not going to “make any waves” with these types of scents, but they’ll be clean & fresh and will fit into almost any situation or occasion. 

That is where Nautica Blue fits in – as part of a basic grooming routine. Of the colognes available in the Nautica line, Blue is one of the baseline, foundational fragrances from the house. The price of Nautica Blue is low enough to encourage anyone with some pocket change to “test the waters”of this style of aquatic freshie, everyday cologne. If you’re looking to get more familiar with aquatic fragrances, without shelling out more than a few bucks, then Blue is a great first step. 

Writer

Ron Pitt is a winemaker who developed a passion for fragrance while studying the olfactory relationship between smell and taste. After producing and marketing wines that focus on complex aromatics along with flavor, Ron altered his attention from the tasting room to the perfume lab. In addition to his passion for both wine and fragrance, Ron and his wife have been rescuing beagles for over 20 years.