Margaritaville at Sea — if you’re familiar with Jimmy Buffett and the plentiful endeavors from restaurants to resorts that bear the Margaritaville name (and at this point, who isn’t?) — then you might have a good idea of what to expect.
The name in this case applies to the Buffett-centric cruise line sailing from Florida to The Bahamas that made its debut in May 2022. For those who love the water and are fans of the “beachy” lifestyle associated with the singer, then the cruise line may be an option compared to the larger mass-market lines.
But there’s lots to know about Margaritaville at Sea, as it is very different in some ways than the cruise lines you might be more familiar with. Here’s what to know…
One Itinerary Offered, With 2-Night Cruises to Grand Bahama Island
Perhaps most unique about Margaritaville is the itinerary.
Look at the options for a typical cruise line and what’s offered can be overwhelming. That’s not the case with Margaritaville at Sea. For now, the cruise line only offers two-night trips over the Grand Bahama. Cruises depart every other day.
So you’ll board in Palm Beach, cruise out in the early evening and dock in The Bahamas the next day. After that, you cruise back to Florida.
Want a longer stay? The cruise line also offers “Cruise & Stay” packages. So you sail over, spend either four or six nights at a hotel on the island (Grand Lucayan or Wyndham Fortuna Beach) and then sail back after your stay.
But if you were planning on a classic cruise for 7-nights hitting all sorts of Caribbean ports, that’s not the case… at least as of now.
Margaritaville at Seas Sails From Palm Beach
When it comes to cruising, Florida is king. Ports like Miami, Port Canaveral, and Port Everglades see millions of passengers each year. Margaritaville at Sea, however, sails from the Port of Palm Beach, about 45 miles north of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale.
That’s a bit of a double-edged sword. On the plus side, as the only cruise line serving the port, it can make it easy to navigate versus the larger and busier cruise ports around the rest of the state. In other words, if you want to just hit the port and get on the ship, it’s easy to do.
On the downside, if you don’t live in Florida, then it’s a little harder to make your way to the ship. Major airports like Miami and Fort Lauderdale are a considerable distance for anyone thinking of flying in.
As You’d Expect, There’s a Major Buffett Theme
There shouldn’t be much doubt given the name, but Margaritaville at Sea is completely Buffett themed.
The onboard production show — “Tales from Margaritaville: Jimmy’s Ship Show” — was written and produced by Jimmy Buffett. A blue and gold macaw parrot is painted at the front of the ship, along with slogans like “Where it’s always 5 o’clock” and “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes.”
Venues onboard include the Port of Indecision Buffett, St. Somewhere Spa and Stars on the Water Theater.
Even the decks have Buffett-inspired names like Changes in Attitude, Flip Flop, License to Chill, and Banana Wind.
Anyone can have a good time on the ship, but Parrotheads might be in heaven.
Margaritaville at Sea Was Formerly Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line
Starting an entirely new cruise line is a major endeavor. In this case, Margaritaville didn’t start from scratch. Instead, it took over the former Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line.
Bahamas Paradise ran a similar itinerary but offered two ships before the pandemic impacted business. It was well known for being a heavily discounted cruise line, offering sailings for under $100 per person for the least expensive cabins.
Margaritaville at Sea, which began sailing in May 2022, offers still affordable rates, but is priced somewhat higher. Cruises start at $169 per person.
The Ship Was Recently Transformed to “Paradise”
When still known as Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, the ship was known as Grand Classica. Now the ship has been transformed into Margaritaville at Sea Paradise after a refurbishment.
With 658 staterooms and 14 decks, the older ship wouldn’t be confused for today’s enormous cruise ships, but still has plenty to offer. The refurbishment not only put in place new dining/bar venues on the ship, but also renovated staterooms to follow with the Buffett style that passengers would expect.
Perhaps the biggest and boldest change was the paint job done on the ship’s hull, complete with palm trees, parrots, and an iconic touch of teal accent color that sets the ship apart from anything else sailing.
It’s a Full Cruise Experience
With a two-night cruise sailing on a smaller ship, you might think that Margaritaville could skimp on the cruise experience. After all, how much can you reasonably do in just a couple of nights?
That’s not the case. Everything you’d expect onboard any other cruise ship is also found here. From kid’s clubs to the casino, from the dining room to the buffet, from the spa to production shows… it’s all on Margaritaville at Sea.
Sure, it might not be on the size and scale of what you’ll find on a new mega-ship, but you won’t skimp on the experience even though it’s a short cruise.
Gratuities Run $14.95 Per Person, Per Day and 18% on Drinks
Of course, gratuities are a fact of life on a cruise ship, including Margaritaville.
The cruise line charges $14.95 per person, per night for most cabins. So on a two-night cruise, a couple sailing would pay about $60 in gratuities. Guests staying in one of the suites onboard will see a charge of $19.95 per person, per night.
There is also an 18% service charge on things like bar drinks, specialty dining, and spa services. So a $12 cocktail would actually run you $14.16.
Drink Packages and Wi-Fi Are Available
Want to have a few margaritas onboard? It seems only appropriate.
In that case, the cruise line offers a “Boat Drinks” package. This is the cruise line’s drink package, but it works a little differently than what you might be used to seeing. In this case, for $99 you get 10 coupons to redeem for alcoholic drinks. Essentially it’s getting your beverages for $10 per glass, a discount off the regular price.
If you want to stay connected back home, then you can also order the “Coconut Telegraph” Internet package. This runs $25 per device for the entire cruise, or $12.50 per night.
A number of other package and perks are also available, including priority check-in deals, photo packages, and the “License to Chill” offer that includes just about everything from VIP seating to specialty dining, express check-in and more.
The Booking Age for a Cruise is 18 Years Old (Not 21!)
In the U.S., major cruise lines typically have a 21 year old minimum age for unaccompanied sailings. That’s not the case for Margaritaville at Sea. It offers sailing for those 18 years and older. (If you select one of the Cruise & Stay packages, then the age requirement is 21.)
So if you just graduated high school and want to take a cruise to celebrate, then Margaritaville might be your ticket.
Adults Can Sail Unvaccinated (If Recently Recovered)
At least for now, pretty much every cruise line requires passengers 12 and older to be vaccinated. And in fact, Margaritaville at Sea also requires most people on the ship to be vaccinated. According to the website:
“Guests who are unable or unwilling to show proof of vaccination or proof of recovery documentation, will be denied boarding.”
But if you have recently recovered from the virus, then the rules are relaxed. If you provide a positive test result from an official test that’s between 10 and 90 days before the departure date, then the cruise line will let you sail without further testing or vaccination required.
(Note that these sorts of rules can change, so double check before you sail.)
Bottom Line on Margaritaville at Sea
For anyone that’s a fan of Jimmy Buffett, you have definitely found your cruise line. But you don’t have to be the world’s biggest Parrothead to enjoy what the new line offers. Affordable and quick trips with the full cruise experience give you the opportunity to take a cruise without taking much time off or spending a fortune.
For those people that don’t have to have the biggest and newest on their cruise, but instead enjoy sailing for the atmosphere and the relaxation that comes with being on the ship, it could be ideal.
Just know that there are some definitely unique features of the cruise line that set it apart from anything else out there.