Margaritaville at Sea prepares to set sail from Port Tampa Bay (PHOTOS)

It’s the cruise line that is being called the “Best New Cruise Itinerary for 2024,” by USA Today. Margaritaville at Sea will begin sailing its new Islander ship, from Port Tampa Bay, this summer. 

In what is being dubbed “a cruise for everyone,” offering “fun and escapism,” and above all, the “chill,” Jimmy Buffett-inspired lifestyle. 

When the Margaritaville brand moved into the cruising space, it began with shorter two-night itineraries to The Bahamas, sailing out of Palm Beach. 

“It was really an opportunity for us to determine brand and market fit and we were pleased with that. We’ve made some modifications to that ship and the itinerary, over the last six months, or so,” says Christopher Ivy, chief executive officer of Margaritaville at Sea. 

The feedback that the Margaritaville at Sea team received was, “We want more,” and, as Ivy says, “that’s a fixable problem.” 

From there, the cruise line began offering longer trips for those who wanted more time on the ship and, with demand keeping pace, it was only a matter of time before it needed another ship. This time, embarking from Tampa. 

“We went through an exhaustive process of where to put the second ship. There were a lot of things to like about Tampa,” Ivy says. “The entire [Port Tampa Bay] team was just really great and super accommodating to work with, which obviously goes a long way toward a great and long-term relationship with the port.” 

New to cruise, families, couples and friend trips, the line offers something for everyone, says Amanda Travaglini, chief marketing officer. 

“Our demographic is quite broad,” Ivy says, adding not everyone has a whole week to experience a vacation. 

“This [cruise line] isn’t just for people who want a weekend getaway, although that certainly really works for them, but it’s for people who just want to fit a great vacation in on their own schedules,” Travaglini says. 

In what Ivy describes as a “choose your own adventure book,” the team at Margaritaville at Sea knows that every traveler has a different idea of what their dream vacation looks like, and they have designed their ships accordingly. 

“Some people want to come and really relax and just chill. Some want a little higher energy environment. So when we’re developing the ship, the design and the concepts, we try to think about how do people engage in those spaces, in a very purposeful way, and then deliver those options,” Ivy says.  

“There’s this trend in cruising, in general, it’s almost hyperbolic. Everything is bigger, faster, more energy, more things, more spaces, more roller coasters and swings, and you hang off the side of the ship,” Travaglini says. “There’s definitely an opportunity for those, but we also want to give space to people who truly want to come on a vacation and disconnect and escape.”  

The Islander has 1,105 staterooms, which include six signature grand suites, inspired by some of the late singer’s most iconic songs. The suites offer extra balcony space with private loungers, walk-in showers, premium finishings and a separate seating area. Booking a grand suite also includes concierge services, lounge access and more high-level amenity touches. 

The ship itself is a masterpiece in design, with a 14-story atrium, a three-story poolside LandShark Bar at Sea and a Play Pad and a water slide. The ship will have numerous dining options including specialty dining, a casino, a spa, pools and more. 

The Islander is the second ship in the Margaritaville at Sea brand, with its maiden ship being the Paradise. The Islander will begin sailing out of Tampa, on June 14, with four- and five-night trips to Key West and Cozumel. In 2025, the cruise line plans to begin offering select, seven-night itineraries. ♦

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