The New(ish) Margaritaville at Sea
In 2021, Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville brand announced the launch of Margaritaville at Sea, a cruise company that offered short, wallet-friendly cruises that sailed out of Florida to the Bahamas and back. Almost three years later, the cruise line is finally expanding and Margaritaville at Sea is offering several ways for federal employees to save big on it’s expanded list of itineraries.
2024 will see the launch of Margaritaville’s second ship, the Islander, and the addition of several brand new 4-5 night itineraries to locations in Key West and Mexico.
Margaritaville at Sea‘s branding is on point with the companies other ventures, which include Margaritaville resorts, restaurants, and even planned communities that all sport the laid-back, carefree island vibes made famous by the late, great Jimmy Buffet. Let’s take a closer look at this relative new-comer to the cruiseline scene:
Cheeseburgers in Paradise
Margaritaville at Sea has already become well-known for its casual atmosphere when compared to it’s bigger, more prominent competitors. There are really no restaurant dress codes and certainly no “formal nights”. You could go the whole cruise without changing out of your t-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops!
Dining options aboard the Paradise are on-par with most cruise line dining options. There’s the Port of Indecision buffet; the Fins main dining room; the casual It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere Bar; Frank & Lola’s Pizzeria; and the higher brow (and extra-priced) JWB Steakhouse.
Drink upgrade packages are also pretty typical for the industry. Cruisers have the option to add on packages that range from the basic “Unlimited Soda” package for $29 per person all the way up to the “No Doubts Premium Drinks” package that includes unlimited beer, wine, and signature cocktails ($119 per person). Frozen, fruity drinks and tropical cocktails are a mainstay on a cruise ship that takes it’s namesake from the famous Buffet tune about wasting away in a booze-soaked paradise. As we tell all new/first-time cruisers, if you plan on drinking on a cruise, either bite the bullet and buy a drink package or plan to budget VERY carefully so that you don’t fall over your room balcony rail from shock when you get your bar tab on disembarkation day.
Mixed (Drink) Past
We wouldn’t be doing our due diligence if we didn’t mention the fact that Margaritaville at Sea has received a few mixed reviews in its fairly short past. As with any company that is new to the cruise industry, some speed bumps are to be expected. Margaritaville’s original ship, the Paradise, is an older ship (originally built in 1991 and operated by Costa until 2018). Despite a multi-million dollar rejuvenation in May of 2023, some cruisers have still said that the Paradise seemed small and outdated. Another common critique was that the food onboard came up short of people’s expectations.
It should also be noted that even though Margaritaville at Sea brands itself as family-friendly, potential cruisers should recognize that a smaller, older ship that primarily caters to an older Parrothead crowd is not likely to have spacious activity areas for kids, especially small children.
Despite the occasional complaints, Margaritaville at Sea still holds a 3.8 (out of 5) rating on CruiseCritic, which is not bad for a (for now) one-ship company that offers shorter sailing itineraries. We suspect that reviews will improve with the launch of Margaritaville’s second ship, the Islander, and the addition of the new sailing itineraries in Summer, 2024.
Great Ways To Save Big in 2024
We are still in the midst of Wave Season for 2024, and Margaritaville at Sea started the New Year off with a doozy of a promotion- buy one regular guest fare and get up to three guest fares completely free! For those of you who aren’t regular cruisers, let us assure you that deals like that are incredibly rare. The original promotion was very short-lived, which is why we didn’t cover it in our Wave Season 2024 post. Great news, though- this deal has now been extended through Feburary 12, 2024 for all sailings that take place through December 31, 2024! Yes, you read that correctly. This promo applies to ALL sailings in 2024, to include the new 4 and 5 day itineraries on the Margaritaville at Sea Islander.
The promotion has it’s fine print (as all cruise deals do), but I must admit that this sale seems more straightforward than most. If you are in the market for a warm-weather getaway this year with extended family and/or friends, this sale is definitely worth a look!
More Ways to Save
Even if you don’t take advantage of the Margaritaville at Sea‘s 2024 Wave Season promo, the cruise line has a year-round discount called “Heroes Sail Free” that offers free cruise fares for military, law enforcement, teachers, and other first responders. Again, despite the restrictions, this is another fantastic discount when compared to similar discounts offered by other cruise companies. In order to use this promo, you must have your employment verified through either ShopVCS.com or GovX.com.
Unfortunately, the “Heroes Sail Free” promo cannot be combined with the “Three Sail Free” sale mentioned above. That’s not really surprising given how steep each discount is individually. With some creative shuffling with a larger group, however (4 or more people), you might still be able to take advantage of both promotions by splitting up you party into two or more staterooms.
Although Margaritaville at Sea is young and is still (ahem) navigating the waters of the cruise industry, they are obviously looking to bolster their business by offering excellent deals that you won’t often find with larger cruise lines.
We always encourage you to do your own research in order to decide whether any given cruise is a good fit for you and those you may be sailing with. Carefully read the fine print, examine reviews, and ask the cruise company lots of questions if you have them. This approach will help ensure that you have a fun, relaxing experience that is only full of good surprises while onboard. If you have any general cruise questions or would like to let us know about any experiences you’ve had with Margaritaville at Sea, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Fins up!