Designer Cynthia Harvey-Brown opts for a cruise to island beaches over the 5-star Resort
There are almost too many locales offered when it comes to planning a beach getaway. Do you head to Hawaii? Turks and Caicos? Tulum? Depending on what type of sun, sand, and sea experience you prefer, the choices are many. If a slower paced, different scene every couple of days, all-inclusive trip is what you’re looking for, and you have an appreciation for Jazz music, the Blue Note Celebrity Cruise is all that and more. The cool vibes of tiny islands nestled in Labadee Haiti, Ocho Rios, Jamaica, Coco Cay, in the Bahamas could be the paradise you’re looking for. For Cynthia Harvey-Brown, the Los Angeles-based designer behind Shift in Season—a new label focusing on beautifully crafted cotton-silk pieces that work just as well for city meetings as they do for the beach—it was the ideal option for a honeymoon getaway.
Trip Duration: One Week
Just Back From: My Honeymoon Cruise
Flight Plan: Fly direct from Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale, then Uber to H2O Café for an excellent brunch before boarding the Celebrity X Cruise Ship. Ready, set, sail to these 4 beautiful private islands in the Caribbean.
What to Pack: Very little! The best part of Caribbean travel and a cruise in general is traveling with little more than a small carry on. This is the place to completely unwind and disconnect, so all you need are a few dresses, sunglasses, sunscreen, a swimsuit, and a good book! There really isn’t anywhere to shop on the islands, except for the usual touristy spots on the larger island of Nassau, so make sure you come prepared. Oh, and don't forget your hair conditioner!
Shift in Season Slip Dress, $220 (available by special order only), Shift in Season Shaped Denim Vest, $99 both shiftinseason.com; Add swimsuit, a tote bag, sunglasses, flats.
Where We Stayed: Our stateroom on the ship had a view of the deep blue sea with a sitting area and just enough room to keep us newlyweds close and cozy. We were located mid-ship where the slight rocking helped us to sleep well. Try to spend as much time kicking back, relaxing on the upper deck facing the ocean where you can hear the ocean waves and see panoramic ocean views. The salty breeze in the air was so blissful to wake up to after a delightful afternoon nap.
Where to Eat: The mornings when we mannered to leave our room before noon we had breakfast on the deck. We explored every level on the ship and found a quiet spot to enjoy Italian coffee. The Oceanview Café was the main restaurant on the ship where a variety of international cuisine was served everyday all day. We tried an array of delicious gluten-free foods, including breads, pizza, strawberry cheesecake and chocolate macaroons that were the best I’ve tasted. They have the most amazing fresh fish dishes, lots of sweet fruits and vegetables created with homemade Bahamian sauces and salsa. The restaurant is very large with several different indoor and outdoor food stations and dining areas.
What to do: The Celebrity Cruise ship offered a lineup of Grammy-awarded jazz artists and introduced Niki Haris, a singer who entertained standing room only crowds with talent, wit and humor. They have several piano bars, which get very busy in the evenings. I enjoyed casual dinners and live music every evening. It was especially nice to dress up one night to dine in style in a beautiful, very luxurious ballroom that made you feel you were dining in a 5-star restaurant in New York City.
Working out in the gym was a change for me. I brought my workout gear, which always includes a jump rope, only to discover the ceilings were too low. The outside decks were closed the first two days due to a storm and high winds. The daily activities were endless on the ship with several concerts, Q&A sessions with the performers, art auctions, a casino, hang by the pool, and a ping-pong table. I enjoyed playing and winning a good game of Ping-pong. We lost a couple of balls through an open window to the sea. The sunsets overlooking the top deck are pretty amazing to watch.
The ports-of-call are generally very isolated so we spent most of our time as newlyweds getting to know each other, talking to the locals, and enjoying the peaceful surroundings. Go snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters of Nassau, or go wading where you can see the colorful schools of fish swim around your legs. Another beautiful experience is to take a day trip to Dunn’s River to swim with dolphins. If you’re highly adventurous, soar on the world’s longest zipline across the private white sand beach in Labadee, Haiti.
We opted for lounging on the beach in a private cabana with oversize cushions, beautifully decorated with pillows and draped with white linen. I especially enjoyed walking on the beach and watching the waves crash the shoreline. It had pretty much everything you need for a good beach vacation. Time seemed to stand still as I gazed out at the clear island skies and indigo waters as they came together for the most beautiful contrast of blue oceans.
In Jamaica, we decided to go past the tourist attractions and hang with the locals. We hired a driver whose friend named Cheryl became our local tour guide. She took us through the very narrow streets of downtown, Ocho Rios to a favorite restaurant where the locals eat Jerk Chicken and rice and peas. Our guide pointed out a new restaurant owned by Jamaican Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt. After picking up gifts for family and friends, including Jamaican Rum Cakes, we headed back to the ship to set sail to our next private island destination.
Our last 2 ports-of-call were in the Bahamas. Nassau was a bustling seaport town filled with tourists. Although I’ve visited Nassau and vacationed in the Paradise Island Resort, this was my honeymoon and it was truly special. My husband Stu and I delighted in our time spent sightseeing, walking hand-in-hand strolling in and out of the many shops along the main street. The beaches were loaded with chaise lounges and hammocks tied between trees offering much needed shade from the midday sun. The town is very picturesque with colorfully painted buildings in soft hues of pinks, green, yellows and blues. We were drawn into one shop called Myocean.com, that engulfed us with a sweet smelling aroma as soon as we entered. It is filled with scented candles, hand-painted textiles, soaps, and other scrumptious things that can easily be mistaken for edible treats. Of course, I brought something for myself and a couple of handmade gifts for friends back home. As we walked and talked about the wonderful time we were experiencing together, we were aware we’d be returning home in a couple of days.
Our last port-of-call was Coco Cay in the Bahamas. We took a ferryboat from the ship to this secluded island. In contrast to Nassau, this quiet beach offered little more than snorkeling and lounging. Although, if you’re into hiking you will find nature trails and an island destination that’s eco-certified. After taking in a little more sun, relaxation, and people-watching--all in the name of getting inspiration, I was ready to head back to our stateroom. Once back on board the ship we prepared to indulge in as many of the activities the ship had lined up for us before returning to the States. At this point, I was not as enthusiastic about the endless array of foods served from morning to evening. However, I was still looking forward to listening to more performers in concert. I was able to dress up in pieces from my own collection and enjoy a special upscale dinner in the ship’s ballroom.
Once back in Fort Lauderdale, Florida we took a chance on the Tiki Bar in the Doubletree by Hilton for dinner. To my delight, we had a delicious meal. I really enjoyed the scallops with blue-cheese mashed potatoes with a side of spinach and tomatoes. By the end of the cruise, I must say, we created many amazing memories and we enjoyed an experience that makes us want to repeat it all over again.