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Margaritaville at Sea Islander Experience

by John the Wanderer
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Islander in Cozumel

This article is Margaritaville at Sea Islander Experience. It is a review of my experience on the Islander cruise ship on a four night sailing to Cozumel from Tampa.

Flip Flop Lobby on Islander
Flip Flop Lobby on Islander

Margaritaville at Sea

Islander is Margaritaville at Sea’s second ship.

Islander in Cozumel
Margaritaville at Sea Islander in Cozumel

Islander is available on four to seven night sailings to Mexico. Some sailings visit Key West and others visit Grand Cayman. The Mexico ports include Cozumel and Progresso depending on the sailing.

My voyage was the inaugural sailing and was the first public sailing on the ship. The brand offered a couple preview sailings to travel agents and media prior to the maiden voyage.

Booking

Blue tones on Islander in Tampa
Blue tones on Islander in Tampa

I booked Margaritaville at Sea Islander under a discounted travel agent promotion. The inside room had a retail cost of $860 for the four-night sailing.

The brand covered my onboard expenses including the drink package, dining package, internet and gratuities. After adding those inclusions, the retail value of the sailing is about $1,300 for one person.

The views in this article are my own.

Room

I stayed in room 7268, an inside room towards the aft or back of the ship on deck seven.

Margaritaville at Sea Islander Inside Room
Margaritaville at Sea Islander Inside Room

The room was bright and felt brand new even though it was on an older cruise ship.

The bright colors and design elements made the room look and feel awesome.

Tv in the inside room on Islander
Tv in the inside room on Islander

The furniture top surfaces are updated with blue colors and palm trees as well as tropical artwork.

Inside room on Islander
Inside room on Islander

There was one US outlet and one European Outlet at the desk and two lamps at each side of the bed had both USB-C and USB-A ports for power bedside.

Bathroom

Bathroom on Islander in an inside room
Bathroom on Islander in an inside room

A colorful restroom!

Sink area on Islander
Sink area on Islander

The amenities are Margaritaville Branded similar to those in the hotels. Amenities included liquid hand soup, body wash, shampoo and conditioner.

Similar brands such as Carnival and MSC amenities are much more limited. In addition, the ship features the same linens and pillows as at the hotels which are soft and comfortable.

Here is a walkthrough of the inside cabin on Islander:

Walkthrough Room Tour on Margaretville at Sea Islander

Overall the room was comfortable and had a modern feel.

One negative aspect to the room is the fact that the closet has built in hangers that are not easy to use for clothing. This was likely a remnant from the original cruise ship style which was the norm for the classic cruise ship.

The temperature in the room was generally comfortable and I was able to keep it cool throughout the cruise.

Four Key Takeaways

I had a great Margaritaville at Sea Islander Experience onboard. Here are four key takeaways from my overall experience.

1. The Ship’s Design and Decor was on Point to the Margaritaville Theme

Lobby with ship model of Islander - Margaritaville at Sea Islander Experience
Lobby with ship model

The ship uses bright colors and tropical vibes.

Flip Flop Lobby on Islander
Flip Flop Lobby on Islander
Pool deck on Islander
Pool deck on Islander

The pool deck has palm trees and tropical themed items.

Pool deck
Pool deck

The brand really paid attention to detail to ensure that the Margaritaville Brand look and feel was present throughout the ship.

Aft Pool
Aft Pool

Even in places that would be difficult to change such as a statue at the pool, you can find the brand touches such as a mermaid with a margarita glass.

The attention to detail really stood out and the use of the tropical colors really put you in the mood of wanting it to be 5 o-clock somewhere.

Havana Car on Islander
Havana Car on Islander

Small touches of the theme are everywhere including this Havana car in a beautiful setting.

The brand went all in with the theme and the details really show!

Captain's Margarita Toast on Margaritaville at Sea Islander Experience
Captain’s Margarita Toast on Margaritaville at Sea Islander

The brand experience even trickled over onto the Captain for the welcome Margarita toast where he removed his white officers uniform in favor of a island themed shirt!

2. Fun Port Experience in Cozumel

This sailing on Margaritaville at Sea Islander had one port call in Cozumel with sea days before and after.

Islander in Cozumel
Islander in Cozumel

Like perfect fitting, Islander docked at International Pier in Cozumel right next to the Margaritaville Cozumel!

Margaritaville
Margaritaville

So you could walk right off the ship and grab a margarita right at the pier!

It was a lovely day in Cozumel.

Playa Uvas in Cozumel
Playa Uvas in Cozumel

I went with several friends on an excursion paid for by Margaritaville at Sea to a beach club at Playa Uvas with options for snorkeling and kayak’s, or just enjoy time at the beach or pool. The excursion had a value of approximately $65 USD per-person.

I enjoyed walking on the beach and swimming in the ocean in the beautiful place while friends went on the kayak adventure.

Cozumel Beach Day during Islander Experience
Cozumel Beach Day during Islander Experience

The water was clean and you could see a lot of sea life.

a plate of tacos with guacamole and sauce
Cozumel Lunch

After a day at the beach, we got a taxi for about $15 each way and headed to downtown Cozumel near the other pier called Langosta and had a wonderful lunch together!

Cozumel surfboards on Islander Experience
Fun Cozumel surfboards on Islander Experience

Cozumel is a fun place to explore and the day with friends really made the cruise awesome!

Cozumel has a lot of great beach clubs. I always use Resort for a Day to book them.

For shore excursions my go to site for booking is Shore Excursion Group. I love them because the tours are smaller in group size and lower in price.

Thanks for using my links which help support John the Wanderer.

3. Good Main Dining Overall

I had the pleasure of enjoying several wonderful dinners in the Islander dining room.

the dining room is free for suite guests or $20 per person. In my experience those with unlimited dining plan got access for no charge as well.

The service was excellent and the food was visually appealing and tasty overall.

Islander Dining Room Appetizer
Islander Dining Room Appetizer

Every night the appetizers and desserts were amazing and we even ordered extras most nights to share with everyone at the table.

Salmon Entree in the Islander Dining Room
Salmon Entree in the Islander Dining Room

The entrees on the whole could use a little improvement in terms of the taste; however, the presentation was usually spot on. With special note, all the vegetarian entrees we sampled during the cruise were exceptional.

The other main dining options included the buffet which had comparable food choices to Carnival as well as a smash burgers and taco spot.

At the back of the buffet was a pizza restaurant that made fresh pizza most of the day and it stayed open late.

The pizza was spectacular and could compete with other cruise lines for the taste and quality.

Craft Martini on Islander
Craft Martini on Islander

The beverage package allowed for sampling of some excellent drinks including this craft one with the Margaritaville at Sea Logo on top!

One disappointment in the food and beverage options on the ship: coffee drinks such as cappuccinos, lattes and espressos are not included in the drink package. This feels like an oversight on behalf of the cruise line given all the peer cruise lines include coffee on the drink packages.

4. Specialty Dining experience could use improvement

The fourth thing that stood out on this voyage was the fact that specialty dinning could use some improvement.

I dined at JWB Steakhouse, the luxury steakhouse restaurant onboard. This costs about $55 per-person. Since o had the unlimited dining package it was not charged.

Meatball appetizer
Meatball appetizer was the star of the dinner in my opinion
Appetizer at the steakhouse
Appetizer at the steakhouse
JWB Steakhouse on Islander Ribeye Dinner
JWB Steakhouse on Islander Ribeye Dinner

The food quality at the steakhouse was excellent but the service did not meet expectations.

Some examples:

  1. No distinct waiting area for guests waiting for a table. Guests have to stand right next to tables of guests dining in the room rather than at a bar or other area and they lingered for extended periods of time.
  2. We had soups served to the table without spoons and then had to wait about six or seven minutes to get the spoons, which caused the soups to cool and it took away from the experience.
  3. Sauces and toppings for the steaks are offered during the ordering process; however, they were not served with the steaks and after we asked about it, we experienced a several minute delay.
  4. Lack of follow up after each course and other service delays

To be fair, I was sitting in a party of 7 and this was the first paying guest sailing; however, from the time we arrived at the steakhouse we experienced numerous delays as well as lack of follow through by the staff.

The service misses were surprising because we had some truly exceptional service in the Islander dining room so to have that disconnect at the paid upscale dining restaurant just didn’t make sense.

I am hopeful that many of the issues encountered were just a result of short staffing and this being the first paid sailing of the ship.

Key Lime Pie at JWB Steakhouse on Islander
Key Lime Pie at JWB Steakhouse on Islander

On the plus side, the awesome desserts at the restaurant left us on a positive note.

Margaritaville at Sea Islander

My Margaritaville at Sea Islander Experience was good overall. From the stunning refreshing colorful theme on the ship to the perfect execution of brand theme the ship experience left me with a positive note.

Islander in Cozumel
The beautiful Islander at the pier

The food quality was excellent overall and defiantly at or above similar offerings on Carnival or MSC. Service in main dining was excellent but in my experience the specialty dining experience at JMB Steakhouse could definitely use some improvement.

Would you sail on Margaritaville at Sea Islander?

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