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Friday File: Searching For Margaritaville

One of us is obsessed with the tequila-based drinks called margaritas…not drinking them, finding where they are. Like, in Margaritaville, homeland of Jimmy Buffett. As a concession to her, and at the risk of alienating you, below are some of the fruits of her labor (and you can be sure there are more to come!)…

Cayman IslandsMost Margaritavilles are in the south, because their creator wears shorts and no socks. This palatial one in the Cayman Islands may be the biggest she has found…so far.

Falmouth JamaicaYou have to look long and hard to find the Margaritaville connection with this work of art at the cruise port of Falmouth, Jamaica…unless you have a built-in Margaritaville magnet.

Grand TurkAt Grand Turk, Parrotheads ‘get’ the obvious connection on the signage above the front door, and if you don’t know what Parrotheads are chances are you haven’t read this far.

LabadeeThe obsessed photographer will even seek out people wearing Margaritaville shirts, like on the beach at Labadee. Little did this musician know he was a photo-op subject. 

New OrleansNew Orleans may be as close as Jimmy Buffett gets to landlubbing (except for concerts) and his fans will tell you he’s a perfect match for the French Quarter.

CozumelFinding Margaritaville in Mexico is easy, at least in Cozumel…after seeing this, the photo subject looked over at the bench and asked: “Where’s Jimmy?”

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news

Celebrity Constellation
13 nights
April 9, 2015
Fort Lauderdale, Funchal, Gibralter, Alicante, Rome
Inside: $599
Cost per day: $46

Escape For Cruising Parrotheads

Time for a confession. Maybe even an apology. I've known since Friday that Jimmy Buffett’s people had made a deal with Norwegian’s people. As someone who’s supposed to be relaying cruise news to you, I was a little slow on the uptake.

Jimmy BuffettIt took me a couple of days to recover.

You don’t even have to be one of Jimmy’s famous Parrotheads (yes, Parrothead is a proper noun to us and that’s why it’s capitalized) to understand this really is “earth-sharking” news. Okay, ocean-sharking news. Jimmy Buffett on a cruise ship…well, his “stuff” will be on the Norwegian Escape when it arrives but, really, isn’t it just a matter of time until The Man Himself shows up? 

Hey, I was even excited when “Jimmy” was one of the Legends In Concert on the Norwegian Epic!

Four people in our family, maybe five, would go out of the way to see Jimmy Buffett…and I’m at the front of the line. That’s more than a third of the family, and another third is too young to know what they’re missing. As for the other third, I’m working on them, hoping they’ll go out of their ways to see Jimmy in concert before he takes his margaritas and goes home to stay.

The fact that he’s made a “new” deal as he approaches his 68th birthday (of course I know it’s Christmas Day!!) and the fact that it’s with a cruise line is encouraging. For now, only his “Margaritaville” and his “5 O’clock Somewhere Bar” and his “Hurricane drinks” are going to be on the Escape — and eventually other Norwegian ships.

That’s a good start. 

For one thing, it means if I’m cruising in the Caribbean with Norwegian, I won’t have to get off the ship to find one of the many Magaritavilles the corporate Jimmy has built on the beaches. 

For another, it’s one more thing that makes it harder for that third of my family to “escape” Jimmy Buffett.

Today at portsandbows.com: Preview of Regent's new Explorer

Carnival Inspiration
4 nights
January 12, 2015
Los Angeles (return): Catalina IslandEnsenada
Inside: $109
Cost per day: $27

Ships to Margaritavilles Quite A Contrast

Comparing Margaritaville in Falmouth, Jamaica at four in the afternoon with Margaritaville in Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos at high noon is not exactly like comparing — as Jimmy Buffett himself would say — papayas and mangos.

Nonetheless, it does beg a question…

What was Jimmy thinking?

In our family, which has two "parrotheads" and at least a couple who are on the verge, it's almost sacrilegious to question this Pirate Past Sixty. Do so at your own peril. However, having stricken two more of his 35 restaurants from our personal Buffett List, the one on the dock of the bay in Jamaica left us wondering.

Margaritaville-FalmouthIt's a great layout, maybe the best of the eight or so we've seen, and its accessible to Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas, which drop by once a week with 6,000 or so potential parrotheads. It has an open-air restaurant accompanied by a bar, plus a pool with a swim-up bar, plus the inevitable gift shop, plus a pleasant pathway that link them all.

The day we were there the only thing missing was a crowd.

Granted, Allure was 90 minutes away from "all aboard," so many passengers were already back on the ship by 4 p.m. But we were told Margaritaville wasn't busy at all — "Everybody stayed on the ship to watch the World Cup" — and that it's only open when a cruise ship arrives, which is two or three times a week. There's even a three-story building that apparently was going to be a hotel (at a cruise port?) but now is destined to house, among other things, a British pub.

Now there's a match for you…mushy peas and margaritas.

Margaritavillew-Grand TurkEnter Grand Turk. This is Carnival country, and that Margaritaville is about the same distance from the Freedom as the one in Falmouth was from the Allure. The Freedom, we should add, carries half as many people as the Allure…and this place was jumping. There were people everywhere, in the restaurant, the bar, the pool…especially the pool. It was hard to see the water for the flesh.

It was so busy — this was at 12 noon — that it was hard to get a sense of the complex's layout. The music was loud and not much came from the Cheeseburger in Paradise and Fins playbook, but lots of reggae, mon, and some pop that had everybody from waiters to drinkers to bathers singing along. Karaoke, yes, but not the Jimmy song Too Drunk To Karaoke even if some of the patrons were.

Yes, at noon.

In both restaurants, the food was good, the prices were up there and the service was, well, laid back at best. Now we all know Jimmy Buffett doesn't go barefoot because he can't afford socks, but if Jolly Mon Sing is an appropriate lyric in Grand Turk, then in Falmouth the most fitting lyric just might be Wasting Away in…Jamaica.

Today at Phil Reimer's portsandbows.com: Silversea set for spectacular 2016 Odyssey

Carnival Conquest
7 nights
July 27, 2014
Miami (return): CozumelBelizeRoatanCosta Maya
Inside: $429
Cost per day: $61

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