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Recommend had the opportunity to chat with Francis Riley, CCO of Margaritaville at Sea, to get the 4-1-1 on what you need to know about this new cruise brand.

Regarding the launch of a new cruise line, Riley says, “I think it’s really exciting for the travel advisor community.”

He points out that, “Our main product is two nights—we’re the only cruise line that will operate year-round 2-night cruises out of the Port of Palm Beach. It’s a 3-day, 2-night escape to The Bahamas, which I think will be pretty unique for the cruise industry,” he points out.

In addition, travelers will have the option to do the cruise and stay program, which consists of a sailing plus a stay at an all-inclusive resort in The Bahamas. “It’s a program where customers get on the ship, they’ll sail overnight and do the full day cruise experience, and then they’ll disembark and get on the island and do two or four nights in an all-inclusive resort at Grand Bahama Island, and then they cruise back again. So from an advisor perspective, they now have three products to sell from one cruise line that’s going to the same destination,” says Riley. “No other cruise line does what we do, which is disembark guests on island for an experience that’s a cruise and stay experience then get back on the same ship. We operate a bit like a shuttle service, but for the agent community, there are real benefits in terms of the cruise and stay.

“From the commercial point of view, it’s the same effort and energy to book a 4- or 6-night cruise and stay with a significant higher revenue opportunity, than it is to book a 2-night stay.” Adding that, “The fact that we are Margaritaville at Sea, for the agent, there are going to be a lot of their customers who are familiar with Margaritaville, and who have stayed at a Margaritaville property, who they can tap into.”

Rendering of a guestroom on board. (Photo courtesy of Margaritaville at Sea.)

Riley says that sailing with Margaritaville at Sea “is going to be a much more elevated experience compared to Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line. The JWB Steakhouse will be on board the ship, 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar will be on the ship, all the things that people are used to getting from Margaritaville Resort will be put into the Margaritaville at Sea concept. Every cabin has been elevated when it comes to the mattress, the decor, and every public area is being redone.”

Guests on board will get an elevated resort-style experience. “From an agent point of view, when you put someone on that ship, you know they’re going to have a fabulous experience, and they’ll probably be customers for life,” says Riley.

The ship isn’t the only thing getting a facelift. Riley mentions that the terminals will be branded for Margaritaville. And when guests arrive at the port, there will be valet service—every single person will get valet. “When they disembark, the keys for their car will be waiting,” he notes. “From a customer service point of view, I like to say, ‘Car to bar in 20 minutes.”

“Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line has been going on for a long time, and there are probably a lot of their customers who have booked and sailed with them. So they can tap into those customers as well,” adds Riley.

Programs for Advisors
“We just booked a new agent portal. That will be the universe of information that an agent will be able to use. This is where they can learn about the product, there will be presentations on there, marketing products they can use, and there will be information on how to register for the road shows and agent rates,” says Riley.

In addition, he adds that the cruise line will be allocating space for travel agents on every sailing in 2022. “We know that once they see it, they’ll be able to sell it,” he says.

In the future, the cruise line plans to offer packages with Margaritaville Resorts in Hollywood, Orlando, Key West and Jacksonville. “We think the drive market from Orlando is a big plus; anything from around a 300-mile drive radius is going to be very popular for us,” says Riley.

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