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Margaritaville at Sea Paradise Dining

Editor Rating
4.0
Very Good
Dining
Chris Gray Faust
Executive Editor, U.S.

The food on Margaritaville at Sea Paradise is comparable for what you'd expect on a ship of this size and at this price point. A buffet (with soft-serve ice cream), a main dining room, room service and individual slices of pizza are included in your fare. Otherwise, you can buy bar snacks at It's Five O'Clock Somewhere, take away an entire pizza, munch on morning pastries or dine in the steakhouse for an extra fee.

Free Restaurants on Margaritaville at Sea Paradise

Port of Indecision buffet. I have a newfound appreciation for buffet layouts on modern ships, after having lunch at the Port of Indecision. There's just no way to get around the cramped layout and limited seating, which leads to long lines and chaos at peak dining times. People resorted to grabbing food and taking it elsewhere on the ship, which meant you saw dirty dishes all over the ship. We felt sorry for the crew, who had to clean it all up.

What food I was able to get to during our embarkation lunch was good enough. Who doesn't like ribs and macaroni and cheese? But the lines, particularly for the grill, made me miss my cheeseburger in paradise (which seems like it should be a sure thing on a Jimmy Buffett themed ship). There's also a popular pasta bar.

The buffet is open for all meals on both days.

Fins Dining Room. Far more successful is Fins, the ship's main dining room. The space is open for lunch on embarkation day (for a limited time); a buffet breakfast on Day 2 and Day 3 and dinner on Day 1 and Day 2. You'll be asked to sign up for a set seating at either 6 p.m. or 8:30 p.m.; we found it fairly easy to work around this and get a time that fit in with our other activities.

On both days, the restaurant posted different dinner menus that offered plenty of options, including a vegetarian entrée; both nights there was also an Indian choice. The meal includes a starter, a soup or salad, an entrée and a dessert. If you don't like the entrees, you can pay an extra $20 for a New England lobster tail or grilled jumbo shrimp; $25 for a 12 oz New York strip or $15 for grilled chicken.

Our dinner here was comparable to what you'd find on mainstream other cruise ship main dining rooms; about the same quality as an upscale chain restaurant. Not fancy but good enough. The service was excellent.

Frank & Lola's Pizzeria. This pizza counter doesn't open until the evening and becomes a magnet late at night for hungry snackers. Note that you will have to pay $14.99 if you want an entire pie, which led some people onboard to think that there was no free pizza. There is -- you can get individual slices of cheese, pepperoni or sausage for no cost (and they are pretty good).

What Restaurants Cost Extra on Margaritaville at Sea Paradise

JWB Steakhouse, $$: The ship's steakhouse has an extra fee that seems a bit steep, at $49 per person. That being said, most people we found who were dining there had bought one of the packages where a meal here is included.

The atmosphere is definitely more upscale than Fins, and the same menu is available both nights. Your meal includes appetizers; a soup or salad; entrees, with chicken and branzino available beyond steaks; a range of sides for the table and desserts. Your steak options range from a 6 oz filet to a 10 oz New York strip to a 12 oz ribeye, along with several sauce choices. If you want to add a New England lobster tail or grilled jumbo shrimp, you'll pay $20 extra.

There's so much going on at night onboard that a meal here can feel rushed, given the number of courses. Service, though, is pleasant and efficient. The space is less crowded than the main dining room, and it does have that "night out" vibe.

If you have a package, you can also eat your breakfast at the steakhouse, which comes with sparkling wine (also bellinis and Bloody Marys). We saw many people taking advantage of the unlimited mimosas, which do not come out of your 10-drink wristband. The breakfast at the steakhouse has slightly more elevated options than Fins, including avocado toast, shrimp Benedict and a delicious Key West omelet.

Five O'Clock Somewhere Bar, $$. This atmospheric bar on the back of the ship also has bar snacks -- think wings, tacos and burgers, as well as conch fritters and fries -- for sale. We never made it here to eat, but this is another place where you can get an "official" Cheeseburger in Paradise; this version costs $13.99 (you can also get one for free at the buffet). An 18% service charge is added to all items.

Margaritaville Coffee Shop, $. If you're missing those morning lattes, you can buy them here, for prices that are equivalent to your local Starbucks. The shop also has donuts, muffins and pastries for about $5 each.

Cruise Critic Restaurant Picks on Margaritaville at Sea Paradise

Having a package option that gives you access to the JWB Steakhouse is worth it, in our opinion. Not only do you get a nice meal out of the whole thing, you also get to have the upscale breakfast and the option of more drinks there (if you're not hungover from too many the night before).

Dietary Restrictions on Margaritaville at Sea Paradise

If you have dietary restrictions or allergies, you'll want to make sure that you tell the line at various points -- when you make your booking, when you sign up for your dinners in the terminal and your server as soon as you sit down. The menus were not marked with different options for those with allergies or restrictions. While the buffet has gluten-free pasta and bread, you're probably better off dining in the sit-down restaurants where you can actually talk to someone about your requirements.

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