Since he unleashed “Margaritaville” on the world in 1977, singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett merchandised the hit song’s concept — nay, lifestyle — into hotels and resorts, radio stations, restaurant chains, footwear, books, two casinos, bicycles, frozen seafood, real estate communities, apparel, outdoor furniture, and, of course, margarita machines and tequila and cocktail mixers.
So it should come as no surprise that Margaritaville Enterprises is finally getting into the cruise industry. On Dec. 8, the global lifestyle brand announced its new “offshore resort experience” dubbed “Margaritaville at Sea.” The 658-cabin Margaritaville at Sea Paradise will take its maiden voyage April 30 from the Port of Palm Beach, Fla., to Grand Bahama Island. Sailings begin at $169 per person.
The company poured millions of dollars into refurbishing the ship formerly known as Grand Classica under the Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, which oversees Margaritaville at Sea. Like Margaritaville’s hotels and resorts, the cruise ship will sport the brand’s beach-bum-friendly decor.
Guests can split their time among 10 passenger decks that feature amenities such as the 5 o’Clock Somewhere Bar, the St. Somewhere Spa, Par-A-Dice Casino, Stars on the Water Theater, Fins Up! Fitness Center and Port of Indecision Buffet.
Pre-Margaritaville at Sea Paradise, there were already lunch and brunch cruises at the Margaritaville at Lanier Islands resort in Buford, Ga. Buffett devotees have been cruising in the name of Margaritaville for at least two decades; the Atlanta Parrot Head Club began organizing an annual cruise for fans in 1999.
A representative for Margaritaville at Sea said the company will wait until a date closer to its departure to set its public health precautions. The website for Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line says that for passengers 12 or older, the Grand Classica has required proof of vaccination and a negative coronavirus test taken within 48 hours of departure since mid-November. Unvaccinated passengers from 3 to 11 years old had to present a negative test within 72 hours and take a rapid antigen test at the terminal.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a no-sail order for cruises in March 2020 because of coronavirus outbreaks, but the government has since allowed sailings to resume with restrictions. Most cruise lines have added vaccine requirements, testing rules, capacity limits and mask mandates. According to a recent CDC report, since the industry resumed operations, more than a thousand cases had been discovered on cruises in the United States, many being breakthrough infections of fully vaccinated people.
Compton writes for The Washington Post.