The cruise line, which is part of the Margaritaville brand created by singer Jimmy Buffett, began inviting first responders on a free 3-day, 2-night cruise from the Port of Palm Beach in Florida to Freeport on Grand Bahama Island as what it called a “much-deserved microvacation” last month. Eligible personnel include both active-duty service members and veterans, police, fire, EMS personnel, and educators who are federal, state, or local government employees.
That program, called the Heroes Sail Free cruise program, is coordinated through a partnership with GovX.com, an online marketplace offering discounts on products, programs, and experiences exclusively for U.S. military service members, first responders, emergency medical professionals, and other state/federal employees.
“To show our sincere gratitude for their ongoing service, we wanted to offer these frontline heroes a chance to kick off their boots and work shoes and flip flop into a relaxing getaway,” Kevin Sheehan, Jr., president and CEO of Margaritaville at Sea, said in a statement. “We hope a little downtime to recover from the demands of their day-to-day responsibilities is just what they need.”
That program proved to be popular – enormously popular.
Heroes Sail Free’s Tremendous Popularity
“Within weeks of the launch, we were pleasantly surprised to see more than 30,000 Heroes and their guests rush to book their free cruise, but that filled nearly all available staterooms in the program through 2023,” Sheehan said in a recent statement.
As a way to continue saying thank you to first responders, Margaritaville at Sea recently expanded the program.
“Now we’re able to continue supporting our Heroes, which is more deserved than ever, by welcoming them to always sail for free when traveling with a paying guest,” Sheehan explained.
The program, which begins October 12, offers first responders a free cruise when they travel with a paying guest. The change ensures “all qualified U.S. military service members (active duty and veterans), police, fire, EMS personnel, nurses, and educators have the chance to enjoy one free cruise to the Bahamas per year aboard the Margaritaville at Sea Paradise,” Margaritaville at Sea explains.
What’s more, also beginning October 12, Margaritaville at Sea will launch a fall promotion offering rates as low as $109 with a $50 cabin credit.
Aboard The Margaritaville Paradise
Margaritaville at Sea is a partnership between the owners of the former Bahamas Cruise Paradise Line and Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville. The ship, Margaritaville Paradise, which debuted last spring with Jimmy Buffett-themed offerings, is a makeover of what had formerly been Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line’s Grand Classica, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
The 658-cabin ship “features gourmet food and beverage options, including JWB Prime Steakhouse and the 5 o’Clock Somewhere Bar & Grill, along with pools, retail stores, a St. Somewhere Spa, Fins Up! Fitness Center, and other services and amenities,” Margaritaville at Sea explains. “The ship also offers on-board leisure activities and entertainment, including the Par-A-Dice casino and the Oasis Room, home to the Tales from Margaritaville: Jimmy’s Ship Show, written and produced by Jimmy Buffett and acclaimed producer Frank Marshall.”
How To Book A Cruise
If you’d like to book passage on a Heroes Sail Free cruise program, there are two important criteria:
- First, of course, the offer is only extended to U.S. military service members (active duty and veterans), police, fire, EMS personnel, and educators who are federal, state, or local government employees.
- Secondly, anyone planning to book also needs to have a GovX-issued ID, which is used to securely verify their military, first responder, or related eligibility status.
You can learn more about GovX and even create an account, if you are eligible, here.
Also, you’ll need to keep in mind that “Heroes-only” sailings will be added in the future, so you’ll need to visit the Margaritaville at Sea’s Heroes Sail Free webpage to learn when cruises are announced. You can also find all of the terms and exclusions on that page.
While you’re thinking about it, be sure to read all of our other cruises and sailing content, including