Please note Rae and I were hosted by Margaritaville at Sea. All opinions, as always, are our own.
Ahoy, mateys! Are you looking for a vacation that combines glorious sunshine with uplifting music? Do you want to enjoy one of The Bahamas’ most beautiful beaches, laugh the night away at a comedy show and try your hand at blackjack or roulette? And if you’re in the armed forces, do you wanna sail for free? If so, have I got a fun adventure for you – a 2-night cruise on the Margaritaville at Sea Paradise!
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Believe it or not, this quick cruise has something for everyone – from the most hardcore Parrot Head to the Gen Z who’s never heard a Jimmy Buffett song. You know how on some cruises you can just instantly tell what the target demographic is? Not so here. There was a wide variety of ages and races. Folks celebrating birthdays, bachelorette parties and finally turning their book into their editor. (HEY, it’s me!)
We’ve been back for a week already and we’re all still smiling and talking about how much fun we had. I didn’t know it was possible to make so many memories in such a short time, but we did it. (It helps if you stay up really late both nights. It’s a FAST trip.)
What is Margaritaville at Sea?
This two night, three day cruise departs from the Port of Palm Beach and is the perfect weekend escape, especially for those in Florida. It took us less than 4 hours to drive down to the port from Jacksonville. Not only is it a great spot for bachelor/bachelorette parties, but it’s also an affordable way to treat yourself and relax. It’s also a perfect cruise for first-time cruisers. You can really dip your toes in so to speak on this smaller ship and short itinerary. All the first-time cruisers in our group are planning the next one as we speak.
When you step onboard the Margaritaville cruise, you’re greeted with tastefully decorated rooms that have been refurbished with tropical accents. Rick and I were upgraded to a suite with a balcony and huge jetted tub. It easily held our group of 12 (the room/balcony, not the tub!) as we sailed away with a Champagne toast. Meanwhile, Rae and Ben booked a 7th floor ocean view room that was also surprisingly spacious, especially for an older ship. The king or queen-sized beds are a nice touch and totally unexpected on a cruise ship. Storage was adequate especially for such a short sailing. It’s not like you have a ton of luggage for just a couple days.
Our Itinerary on Margaritaville at Sea
We went into our weekend on the MVAS Paradise with no expectations and no plans. With 8 dining venues, 5 bars & lounges and 10 levels to explore, we had a general idea of what we wanted to do (spa, gamble, eat conch in The Bahamas) but no set schedule. That worked really well for our group of 12. We had a WhatsApp group for all of us so we could chime in with activities and updates, and anyone could join if they wanted, or couples could pair off and do their own thing. It worked really well for us.
Day 1 – Sail Away
1 p.m. Check in
I recommend checking in as early as possible especially if you want to book reservations for the spa, dinner at Fins or JWB Prime Steakhouse (named for James William Buffett, of course), excursions, etc. Priority check-in is available and it does make things a bit easier. The line is much shorter, so if you want to get onboard faster (and disembark faster on the last day), this option is for you.
Note that you can book drink packages in advance or at check-in. Rick and I had a wristband for 10 between the two of us and it was plenty, but we aren’t huge drinkers so take that into account. We did try everything – margaritas galore (we particularly liked the Smokin’ Rita), various boat drinks like the 5 o’clock Somewhere and Coco Cabana, and everything was delish. No complaints.
5 p.m. Safety Drill
Rae reminded me that on her first cruise when she was a young teen, we told her that the safety drill was a swim test and that we all had to jump off the ship and swim back to prove we could handle ship life. I’m surprised she still cruises with me after that, ha!
The muster drill was boring but that’s the point. Everyone is herded into various locations on the ship for a safety presentation. It was really warm. Bring a bottle of water. If you need any kind of assistance or seating during the briefing, don’t straggle.
5:30 p.m. Departure
We split our time on our private balcony and up on the deck watching the sun set over Florida as we cruised out toward Grand Bahama. The daily schedule can be found on the TV in your stateroom, but we just wandered around and let the night take us wherever it wanted.
8 p.m. Dinner reservation at JWB Prime Steakhouse
I wasn’t sure if the special dinner would be better on Night 1 or 2, but I’m glad we chose Night 1. We were all fresh and energized and ready to kick off the weekend in style, and JWB Steakhouse was perfect for it. In terms of dining options, the JWB Steakhouse is the premium choice and will set you back an upcharge – but it’s worth it for that special occasion.
You choose from 4 courses for around $60. The French onion soup got rave reviews as well as the fried oyster appetizer. The service is great and so is the Key Lime Pie.
10 p.m. Explore the ship’s entertainment offerings
Margaritaville at Sea has a Jimmy Buffett-themed musical show, a comedy show and live musicians in various venues, so there’s always something to entertain you. Or, if you’re competitive like our group, you may find yourself playing shuffleboard, giant Jenga, cornhole or video games in the arcade. There’s also a casino with table games and slot machines if you’re so inclined. Please note there’s only one roulette table and it was $25 per hand. A bit steep, but we played for hours anyway.
12 p.m. Bedtime
Obviously this is just a personal suggestion, but you don’t want to go too hard on the first night and miss out on tomorrow’s adventures…
Day 2 – Grand Bahama Island
7 a.m. Arrival at Freeport
8 a.m. Breakfast
Grab lattes at the Margaritaville Coffee Shop and hit up the Port of Indecision buffet for a quick breakfast before disembarking. If you didn’t bring your own beach towels, you can pick some up near the info desk before you head to Grand Bahama for a day of adventures.
9 a.m. Adventures on Grand Bahama Island
Our group wasn’t really sold on any of the offered excursions, so I booked us a private taxi to Port Lucaya for $14 each roundtrip. Port Lucaya has shopping, food and a gorgeous beach, so a little something for everyone. Once we arrived, we decided to buy day passes at the Grand Lucayan at the tip of the beach. It’s $25 for beach/pool/chair/umbrella access and $75 for all that plus all you can eat and drink. Now here’s the thing: the folks who paid for all-you-can-eat/drink had a hard time getting service and those who paid just $25 found it much easier to order drinks. Take that however you will… but it was noticeable.
Grand Bahama was severely affected by Hurricane Dorian in 2019 and they’re doing everything to bounce back after that and then years of pandemic. There are vendors on the beach selling sarongs, T-shirts, beer and jewelry. Even if you don’t need anything, it doesn’t hurt to contribute to the local economy this way. Let me tell you about the shell necklace whistles we now own…
We spent the whole gorgeous day on the beach, swimming in the turquoise sea, frolicking up to the pool. A few of us popped over to the marketplace at lunch because Big Daddy Brown’s Conch Stand was calling my name. If you go, order the Big Girl Special: cracked conch, fried lobster, fried shrimp and conch fritters for $35. And then get a conch salad, too, because you can’t eat too much conch in the Bahamas. (Unless you’re allergic to shellfish and then definitely don’t do that.)
Private taxi service: Call Brian from 3Bs Taxi Service and tell him Angie Away sent you!
4:30 p.m. All aboard!
Back onboard, we dropped our beach bags in our rooms and met up for bingo and trivia in the Euphoria Lounge, a solid choice for drinks, chilling and entertainment. There’s almost always something going on in here.
6 p.m. Dinner at Fins
Again, make reservations if you have a large group! Otherwise it’s pretty easy to get a table.
7 p.m. Pedicure and massage
I was expecting a tiny spa but nope! There were many treatments to choose from. Make sure to schedule them as soon as you board though; this way you have more chance of getting the time slot that you really want. There’s a lot to do and very little time to do it. My spa pedicure and Swedish massage were just what I needed after a day in the sun and sand. There’s also a very nice gym with a great view, but I didn’t partake.
9 p.m. Snack time
Grab a snack at Port of Indecision, the ship’s buffett, or grab pizza from Frank and Lola’s. I’ll say that this particular cruise isn’t a foodie experience, but it’s totally reasonable for as fast as the journey is.
10 p.m. Karaoke
Back to Euphoria Lounge for karaoke! I thought there’d be a lot more Buffett songs but our shipmates had other ideas. Tons of fun and a very busy venue at this time of day. Get there early if you want a seat.
11 p.m. Casino
Find Rade the dealer in the casino. He sings, he makes hilarious sound effects when you win or lose, and he’s literally too much. We’re still laughing about our night at his table.
12 a.m. Dancing at the Oasis Room
1 a.m. Skeeball at the Hangout
2 a.m. Casino
Go all in on red. And then go to bed.
Day 3 – Time to Go Home
7 a.m. Home already?!
You have until 10:30 a.m. to disembark, so depending if you have a flight to catch or perhaps need to be somewhere, you can be one of the first ones off the ship or linger a while, have breakfast and say goodbye to all your new pals.
A few FAQs for Margaritaville at Sea:
(I’ll add to these as people ask questions on Instagram and in the comments!)
Is Margaritaville at Sea good for bachelorette party?
For bachelor/bachelorette parties, I don’t think you could find an easier trip. It’s short enough you can do it over a weekend so you’re not committing to 4-nights of shenanigans, but it’s also long enough to make the bride or groom feel super celebrated. It’s certainly easier and cheaper than a bachelorette in Las Vegas, which we’ve done. Or an adventurous scuba trip like we did in Bonaire. And easier to coordinate with a bunch of people than say, a bachelorette party in the Florida Keys, which we’ve also done. It really depends on your group and where you’re coming from. From Florida? It’s a no-brainer. 10/10 would recommend.
Note that if you’re a larger group, you should make dining reservations at check-in just to ensure you’re all seated together promptly.
How much is a cruise on Margaritaville at Sea?
I don’t think there’s a less expensive option out there. Cruises start at $150. When you factor in that includes lodging, entertainment and food, it’s a steal. Splash out for a balcony suite, dinner at JWB Prime and a spa treatment, and you could be looking at hundreds more. All depends on you! Check out the current deals and specials on Margaritaville at Sea.
What are the extra expenses?
Like every cruise, there are incidentals and taxes to factor in. It’s not just $150. There are port taxes, parking fees, alcoholic drinks, soda, any extra meals/snacks/lattes, spa treatments, excursions and tips. If you’ve ever been on a cruise, you know the bill you get on the last day is way more than the great deal you booked. Still, with only 2-nights, you don’t have time to spend too much.
What if I don’t even like Jimmy Buffett music?
If you are a card-carrying Parrothead, you will love this cruise. If you wouldn’t know Jimmy Buffett from Metallica, you will still love this cruise. It was not aggressively blasting Buffett from every speaker, but the influence is there.
Do you need a passport to sail on Margaritaville at Sea?
You actually don’t! US Citizens can sail with a certified birth certificate and ID. But make 100% sure you have the right documents before you get there. You don’t want to get left on the dock. A passport is certainly the easiest option.
Is a 2-night cruise even worth it?
We thought so! It was quick, but packed with fun. And we didn’t have time to be tired or cranky or anything. It really was a whirlwind but one we won’t soon forget.
What is Heroes Sail Free?
Margaritaville at Sea offers free cruises for first responders, military, educators, etc. – for real! You do have to pay for incidentals and such, and obviously certain terms and conditions apply. But look into it if it applies to you!
Where does Margaritaville at Sea depart from?
The Port of Palm Beach. It’s about 10 minutes off of I-95 and pretty easy to get to from anywhere in Florida. Parking at the port is $22 per night and valet is the only option, so be ready to hop out when you arrive.
$25 Onboard Credit – Use Margaritaville Promo Code MVASFRIEND
Sometimes you just need to be in The Bahamas. Do you know what I mean? There’s no easier, quicker, or less expensive way to get there, so even though it’s a fast trip, wasting away in Margaritaville at Sea was the perfect little getaway.
Have you cruised with Margaritaville at Sea? Would love you to add any tips you have for future cruisers in the comments!
And if you are thinking about booking, drop your questions in the comments!
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