By Theresa Russell
My usual method of arriving to a cruise port involves following common advice and arriving at the port the day before to allow for any flight delays or cancellations. Typically, I arrive later in the day and stay on a commercial strip near the airport and only see the port city as I travel to the cruise pier. Sometimes, it’s a matter of work schedules, costs or convenience, but this time, I had none of those concerns and opted to choose a hotel that sounded fun. Knowing that Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort recently opened and that Norwegian’s newest ship, Escape, would have a Margaritaville restaurant on board, I cleverly decided with a margarita in hand, made from Margaritaville Tequila, of course, that I could plan a themed vacation. And what says vacation more that Margaritaville, beaches and cruising?
Margaritaville By Land
The first destination resort in Florida, Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort appeals to not only Jimmy Buffett fans, but anybody looking for the convenience of having accommodations, entertainment, dining, spa and activities all in one location. The soothing tropical colors used in the rooms instantly transported me to vacation mode.
Greeted by the giant blown out flip flop in the lobby, I felt the connection with Jimmy’s songs, the lyrics of some of which grace the hallways in the guest areas. A nice collection of surfboards, each with a story from Jimmy Buffett’s personal collection are found about the hotel.
Eight dining options from the expected Margaritaville to the upscale JWB Prime Steak and Seafood restaurant, the first of its kind, make choosing a spot for dinner challenging for those staying just one night, but most appealing for those staying longer.
Located along the Hollywood Broadwalk – and note that it is a broadwalk as opposed to a boardwalk – the beach is just a short walk from the lobby and the Broadwalk offers a pleasant walkway to other nearby attractions, shops and restaurants.
Activities include a FlowRider and a paddleboarding facility. Being there during the soft opening, that particular feature was not yet functioning. Located on the Intercontinental Waterway, the facility offers access to calm water and will also be a stop for the regular water taxis that ply the water, making it even easier for guests to explore the locale and for locals to explore this newest destination resort. I for one can’t wait to get back and try out the paddleboarding.
Margaritaville at Sea
Quite ready to get an even larger dose of Margaritaville, I reluctantly departed Destination Paradise, but not before going to the 11th floor pool terrace and watching the sunrise.
Norwegian Escape departed from the Port of Miami and a quick question to a helpful hotel employee asking about the most efficient and economical way to reach Miami resulted in us contacting Uber. About 40 minutes after being greeted by our friendly Uber driver, my companion and I found ourselves at the Miami terminal.
Registration was quick and efficient. Having sailed other NCL ships, I was curious about this Breakaway Plus class and started comparing the layouts with the Breakaway class. Knowing that Margaritaville would be popular, we headed up there as soon as it was open and stood in the line, which had already formed. The excitement was palpable and seemingly everybody in line was a Jimmy Buffett fan.
Running into friends who were far at the head of the line was a real bonus as they had requested a large table. We sat at a high top, promptly ordered the Uptown Margarita, named for the space on the Breakaway class that is in the same location as Margaritaville.
The Volcano Nachos arrived astounding us with the size of the plate, which we shared with the rest of the table and didn’t even finish. Every dish was large. Besides the nachos, the grand finale favorite was the key lime pie. We were disappointed that we were not serenaded by waiters singing Jimmy Buffett songs or even heard the familiar music playing in the background. We enjoyed this restaurant so much that we visited again and again. And just like at Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort, there was always booze in the blender, both here and at 5 o’Clock Somewhere Bar.
Keeping to the plan to explore ports, we stayed a few days in Miami Beach after disembarkation. And that is another story.
About Theresa Russell
Claiming her lust for travel began on her first journey through the birth canal, Theresa is genetically programmed to travel and to have fun doing it. She especially enjoys adventure and experiential travel and always finds something at a destination to write home about.