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Margaritaville at Sea’s Islander Makes Maiden Voyage from Tampa

On June 11th, JAX FAX joined travel advisors and travel media for a 2-night

inaugural cruise on Margaritaville at Sea’s newest ship, Islander. Being diehard Jimmy Buffet fans, we were anxious to see how the once Costa Atlantica was transformed in eight months, for about $150 million, to a Margaritaville theme. And we were not disappointed!


The stage is set from the moment you arrive at the port and see the ship’s hull painted in pastel colors with parrots, palm trees and the saying “Where it’s always 5 o’clock.” For those advisors who are familiar with its sister ship Paradise, what will stand out at first glimpse is the large number of balcony cabins on the Islander. In fact, the Islander has 1,105 cabins, compared to Paradise’s 658, and just over 700 of those have balconies including 58 suites. There are also 167 oceanview cabins and 212 inside cabins.


Once onboard, it is impossible to miss the stunning 7 story atrium highlighted by a giant flip flop and a seaplane suspended in the air. Buffet fans will know of his passion for flying his seaplane. An elevator bank with glass windows offers spectacular views of the atrium as you ascend the ship’s total of 12 decks.


Signature Dining & Lounges
The cruise line has debuted a menu with six new dining concepts and 11 bars and lounges exclusive to the Islander, including the world’s only three-story LandShark Bar at Sea with unbeatable 360-degree ocean views. The ship also features familiar Margaritaville favorites such as JWB Prime Steakhouse and Cheeseburger in Paradise.


We had both our dinners in the main dining room and while the service was excellent, the food was average and your foodie clients might not feel that it hits the mark. We did have lunch at the Far Side of the World Sushi Bar, which was very good, leading me to believe the other specialty restaurants would be promising. On a positive note, the cheeseburgers at the Cheeseburger in Paradise outdoor cafe were excellent!


Other dining venues included the Mexican Cutie Cantina, the Island Eats seafood shack, and the Port of Indecision buffet.


Each one of the Islander’s 1,105 staterooms has been fully renovated with all-new furnishings, fixtures and Margaritaville signature bedding, pillows and linens. Each will feature custom stylings reminiscent of the sand, sea and sky, and will range from cozy interiors to one-of-a-kind Signature Suites inspired by some of the late Jimmy Buffett’s most iconic songs.


Among the stateroom offerings, Margaritaville at Sea Islander will feature six ultra-exclusive Signature Grand Suites uniquely themed and influenced by popular songs such as “Come Monday” and “Everlasting Moon.” Featuring unique Margaritaville touches throughout, these suites will also offer an extra spacious balcony with private loungers, large walk-in showers, upgraded premium furnishings, separate seating area, and several exclusive amenities such as priority check-in, boarding and debarkation; exclusive concierge services and lounge access; complimentary nightly dining in the Islander Dining Room; and more.


With twelve different stateroom and suite types, everyone from couples and families to solo travelers and larger groups will find a comfortable space to meet their needs. The 700 balcony staterooms include Grand Terrace Corner Suites, featuring an extra-spacious wraparound balcony; Serene Junior Suites, offering ample space to stretch out and unwind with wide-open balcony views; Wake View Balcony staterooms, located at the aft of the ship with picturesque open ocean views; as well as Premium Extended Balcony and Breezy Balcony staterooms.


Additional stateroom options include the Picturesque Ocean View featuring scenic views of the sea and Cozy Interior staterooms which offer incredible value and a perfect home base for a memorable cruise experience. Basic stateroom amenities include TVs, bathroom with shower, in-room safe, hair dryers, 110v and 220v outlets and USB outlets, vanity areas and storage space.


Fun for the Whole Family
From adults to young travelers, everyone onboard the Islander will find their own entertaining slice of paradise – including live music enclaves, thrilling outer deck adventures, an all-ages lounge and arcade, and a first-ever cornhole-meets-mini-golf challenge course.


Highlights of family-friendly offerings include:
Caribbean Amphibian Play Pad & Slide – Designed for young adventurers, this paradise playground features an elevated play space, waterslide, and splash-and-spray “lily” pad for fun-filled exploration.


Dis and Dat Activity Zone – The whole family can join the challenge with the first-ever cornhole-meets-mini-golf course at sea. This unique take on two fan-favorite games on the outer deck will put guests’ skills to the test for one-of-a-kind fun.
Paradise Pickleball at Sea – Join the craze with some friendly competition on the high seas with the ultimate
pickleball match.


Defying Gravity Experience – A family experience for all ages with unbelievable circus-themed workshops, interactive game shows, and scavenger hunts.


Far Side of the World Arcade and Lounge – Teens can sip on Boba Milk Tea, sing their favorite karaoke songs, and take the arcade by storm in this family-forward lounge area.


5 o’Clock Somewhere – It’s always island time at this signature pool, where the music never stops and the vibe is just right to relax, grab a bite, or make a splash.


Coral Reef Lounge – Dive into this aquarium-inspired lounge with mermaids and mocktails, family karaoke, hilarious comedy acts, and other surprises.


Kids Clubs
For kids and teens ages 3 to 17, Islander will offer four complimentary kid’s programs organized by age group, including:
Jolly Mon (ages 3-5) – A fun-filled day of ocean-inspired games, arts and crafts, immersive experiences, mermaid storytelling, and visits from friendly characters.


Parakeets Kid’s Club (ages 6-9) – A full itinerary featuring magic workshops, the “Escape from Chichen Itza” game, mini-DJ academy, sports hour on deck, ship tour, and crazy hat party.


The Hang Out (ages 10-12) – High-energy games and sports such as pickleball classes, basketball, mini golf, and corn hole tournaments, along with DJ academy sessions, magic workshops, Mar-glo-ritaville glow party, pop star jam sessions with musicians, and more.


The Far Out (ages 13-17) – This teens-only club offers a movie night, a nightclub takeover, a scavenger hunt with prizes, percussion workshops, and a Tik-Tok/Instagram content battle.


Show-Stopping Original Entertainment
One of the highlights of the cruise was the entertainment in the Stars on the Water Theatre. This is a beautifully designed venue and the cast of the shows were top notch! Altogether, guests can enjoy two new live production shows, two fun and fabulous theme nights, and poolside activities and music unique to the ship. Original live shows included Conky Tonkin’ at Sea, a boot-stomping, feather-shaking trip to Nashville and Caribbean Heat Remix, an amplified version of a Margaritaville at Sea fan favorite. This show fires up the audience with a celebration of the colorful, sensual, and alluring world of Caribbean Heat through electrifying dance, acrobatics, and the hypnotic beats of Key West and Mexico.


Margaritaville at Sea Islander made its maiden voyage on June 14 from Port Tampa Bay. In addition to the current four- and five-night cruises to Key West, Cozumel, and Progreso, passengers can now book six- and seven-night voyages in 2025 to the island hot spots of Belize, Jamaica, and Grand Cayman, with stops in Key West and Mexico. The Islander’s expanded itineraries will give guests more time to discover their own tropical paradise in sun-soaked destinations and enjoy action-packed entertainment and delightful ship amenities over multiple sea days, while they reach a blissful Margaritaville state of mind.


For more information visit Margaritaville at Sea’s dedicated website for travel advisors at

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