Review of Margaritaville at Sea
I was one of the lucky folks that got to experience Margaritaville at Sea's Inaugural sailing. It was fun to be on a ship again even with all of the additional protocols.
Jimmy Buffet is taking his Margaritaville resorts to the high seas with sailings from Port of Palm Beach to Grand Bahama Island. There are several duration options to choose from. I was on for one night but it was enough to get a sense of what the cruise line is trying to accomplish.
Vaccinations were not a requirement, but you had to test before boarding. We tested at home and skipped the line at the port. Since we are not Florida locals, we stayed at a hotel off-site and Uber to the port. It was an easy enough drive. There is valet parking available at the port for those that drove. The cost is $22 per day. I do want to point out that at the end of the cruise, the line to get your car was long. The folks running the operation were working non-stop. They have to be taken to the off-site lot a few blocks away. Even though that line was long, we waited longer for an Uber than the folks waiting for their cars that we exited security with.
The check-in process was simple enough. You drop your bags at the entrance and take the escalator up to get your documents and photo taken. The area was clean and open. They had live music playing and everyone was in great spirits. I really liked that they had a water station and seating area off to the right side in case you are waiting to board with friends.
I had not been on this ship before when it was under Princess Cruises, but you can tell that it's an older ship. It doesn't have all the bells and whistles that newer ships have. This could be good or bad depending on what your taste is. As soon as you walk onboard, you are greeted with Margaritaville's signature giant flip flop. The theme is definitely island vibes. It's a great spot to take photos. The staff was more than happy to accommodate our request for shots.
One thing we missed was the paper schedule that was being passed out once we boarded. We didn't realize it until we were eating lunch wondering when the sail-away party was going to happen. I must say that the communication to this point was not that great. I understand that it was the inaugural sailing and some things need to be ironed out, but for someone who likes to plan my days out a bit, I felt lost. I'm hoping that they switch to electronic schedules so that folks can have them handy on their phones and not have to carry paper around.
Food and Drinks
There are several places to grab a bite to eat. Lunch was being served when we boarded and went to the Port of Indecision to see what was being offered at the buffet. I'm not a buffet person, but that is the first option we saw. I was a bit disappointed because there weren't many non-meat options. I ended up at the pasta station and a small piece of salmon.
I wished I had gone through the door at the 5 O'Clock Somewhere entrance when I took this photo because it was a lot quieter and had a burger station. I couldn't find out if they had vegan options.
We were immediately asked what we wanted to drink once we found a place to sit. There are many places you can grab a drink onboard. There are about nine places, so you won't miss out there. There is a coffee station right across from Lola's pizza. I truly enjoyed the pizza. They have JWB Steakhouse (extra fee) and one main dining room. The steakhouse was closed to the public so we didn't get to try it out. My husband was disappointed. I can't comment on dinner in the main dining room because I didn't eat anything. I got sick. This is unusual for me, but the ship was rocking so badly on the way to the Bahamas. My husband had taken his Dramamine so he was fine. I took one too late and it wasn't enough to negate the sickness. This was my first time getting sick on a cruise. I couldn't eat dinner and the after-dinner buffet snack option was lacking. My husband enjoyed his meal, again it was buffet style. The dessert options looked fantastic. I went back to Lola's for a slice of pizza. I ate an omelet in the morning before disembarkation. Breakfast was limited, but the omelet station was perfect.
We stayed at the ocean view cabin. They also have interior and suite categories. Some of the ocean view cabins have a murphy bed option. I wasn't able to get photos of any of the other categories. Our room was spacious with lots of storage. The bathroom is good except the shower is TINY. We had a king bed that was very comfortable. While our cabin was ready except for the side table that wasn't put together yet, some of the other cabins were missing a lot more including the TVs that lined the hallway. We were not able to shower because the water in the evening was ice cold. The shower basically didn't have water coming out. I don't think it was the pressure but maybe just need a new shower head. By the morning the water was too hot. My husband burned himself when he turned it on. Some other guests were complaining about locks, and cabin temperatures, among other things.
Spa/Fitness Center/Kid's Area
The spa is a good size and has lots of options. The gym is next to the spa and has great views. While you may not be on the ship for long, it will suffice for what your needs are.
The kid's areas are lacking. I would not sell this cruise as a family affair if you want to kids to be engaged by someone else. The kids and teens areas are just rooms without a view. The kids' area was full of storage boxes while we are on board and the teens' area is a room with one TV.
The highlight for me was having Jimmy himself on board for the sail away party. We missed most of it because of the lack of schedule as mentioned above. There was a theater performance with all of Jimmy's songs. I should note here that if you are not a fan of Jimmy Buffet's songs, this might not be the cruise for you. Everywhere you go, they are playing his songs. Back to the show. The performance was good. We got there late (sick), but we got great seats. The show is 45 minutes long and if you are in the front floor seats, you should expect to be pulled into the show. Some folks were not amused by that which was a bummer because I'm sure the performers need that energy to keep going.
I was happy to have this opportunity to check out this new offering for quick getaways. The potential for it being a great product is there. They should have taken a bit more time to address some of the aging that is visible on the ship. I wasn't expecting a brand new ship, but I also didn't expect to not be able to take a shower. There were lots of unfinished projects that had the crew working overnight to address as they had customers onboard within 24hrs after we departed. There wasn't much offered for folks to eat that have dietary restrictions.
This is not a family-friendly cruise. I would sell it as a quick getaway for your friend group that needs to blow off some steam. Again, be ready for all the Jimmy Buffet songs. There is no excepting it. There is a conference area if you must have a meeting on board.
It is not luxury as you would get at one of the Margaritaville resorts, but if small-ship sailing is your cup of tea, then this is perfect for you. The crew was friendly and tried to address issues as they arose, and really that is what is most important.
I'm going to give them some time to get things addressed and would love to sail again with a group.
Check out my video walkthrough