Margaritaville CEO has a grand vision for company's cruise line

Margaritaville’s first cruise brand, launching in April via a rebranding of the former Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, will start small with expectations for “dramatic expansion.”

Margaritaville at Sea, like Bahamas Paradise, will at first sail two-day cruises from the Port of Palm Beach in Florida to Grand Bahama Island. It will operate Bahamas Paradise’s former Grand Classica, which is slated to launch on April 30 as the Margaritaville Paradise after an extensive refurbishment. The ship will have Margaritaville-themed eateries and spaces. 

Margaritaville CEO John Cohlan said that the brand was attracted to Bahamas Paradise’s short cruises and the ability to shape the product. He is also excited about the growth opportunity for the cruise-and-stay program offered by Bahamas Paradise, utilizing Margaritaville resorts.  

“It’s a small company with one ship, and we’ve got plans to expand dramatically,” he said. “It just gives us an opportunity to really define our brand, as opposed to doing it within somebody else’s system. 

“We have destination resorts at lots of locations where there are cruise ports in this country and, of course, at cruise destinations. There are several destinations in this country where we think we could add ships. But we’re going to first be sure that we set sail successfully.”

T1213MARGARITAVILLECRUISE4_C_HR [Credit: Margaritaville]

Bahamas Paradise CEO Oneil Khosa, who will serve as CEO of Margaritaville at Sea, also said that the brand will start off operating as Bahamas Paradise did, with the “elevated” onboard experience that will extend to the terminals in both Palm Beach and Freeport, which the line will operate exclusively “so that the vibe and the theme and the essence is like Margaritaville.”

The company plans to develop the Margaritaville Beach Club, a private, exclusive beach experience. 

Cohlan expects some of the initial itinerary expansion may include cruises to Nassau and Key West, where Margaritaville has resorts. 

“There are several opportunities for this ship and as we add to the fleet,” he said. 

Singer and Margaritaville founder Jimmy Buffett weighed in on the project, saying, “To me, the only thing better than being on a beach by the ocean is to be on the ocean. Now you can follow in our wake.”

Khosa said Buffet toured the ship and “was delighted” with what it has to offer.

“He was very pleasantly enamored with our crew and the chef and got very excited,” Khosa said, adding that Buffet is motivated to “see that this carries his legacy going forward.”

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