Norwegian Cruise Line Confirms Margaritaville at Sea Will be a la Carte

Dawn at Margaritaville at sea and waitress Agthea Ragina photo by Dave Jones

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Norwegian Cruise Line has confirmed that Norwegian Escape’s Margaritaville at Sea — a previously complimentary dining venue in partnership with musician Jimmy Buffett — will now operate as a speciality a la carte restaurant, a month after opening.

Margaritaville at Sea has proved a huge hit from the moment the ship debuted in Southampton, U.K. on October 27.

By the time the ship officially launched in Miami on November 9 we reported waiting times of more than an hour — prompting President and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Frank del Rio to hint that a fee would be introduced.

In a press conference onboard Norwegian Escape on November 10, Del Rio said: “for business and crowd-control reasons [introducing a la carte pricing is] always a possibility”.

Vanessa Picariello, Sr. Director, Public Relations at Norwegian Cruise Line confirmed: “The first Margaritaville at Sea aboard Norwegian Escape has proven to be extremely popular. We have listened to our guests’ feedback regarding the overwhelming demand and, in an effort to deliver the highest quality experience, we will be implementing a la carte pricing at the restaurant as of the ship’s November 28 sailing”.

The possibility of a charge first came to light on the Cruise Critic Message Boards when TracyE stated that “while this venue was free on the TA, beginning November 14th, there will be a la carte pricing”.

In a subsequent thread, the decision to charge has angered many members, including Lily815 who complained that “they are changing the rules… again. It is beyond frustrating” and MalervyC who stated that “[Margaritaville at Sea] was a big draw for us to book this cruise”.

Sample prices from the menu (pictured below) include burger and fries at $9.98 and fish tacos at $6.99, excluding an 18% gratuity.

Norwegian’s specialty restaurants to go a la carte

Norwegian Cruise Line said most of its alternate dining venues will move to a la carte pricing rather than cover charges starting next year.

The line is introducing a la carte pricing on the Norwegian Escape, due in November, for three of its specialty restaurants that now have cover charges. In addition, it will also introduce a new dining concept.

The restaurants are La Cucina, Le Bistro, Cagney’s Steakhouse and the new Bayamo by chef Jose Garces. At the same time, diners will be able to choose how many courses to order.

At Cagney’s Steakhouse, starters on the new a la carte menu range from $4.99 to $7.95 and main courses from $17.99 to $29.99. Main courses at Le Bistro start at $15.99 and $12.99 at La Cucina.

Moderno Churrascaria and Teppanyaki will remain at a cover charge of $19.95 and $29.95 respectively, and entertainment dining will also stick with a single fee.

The new a la carte pricing will apply to Ocean Blue restaurants on the Norwegian Getaway and Breakaway starting Oct. 3. The plan will then go fleetwide in January.

Norwegian said anyone buying a specialty dining package will have access to all menu items at La Cucina, Le Bistro and Cagney’s Steakhouse at no additional charge, while dining in Bayamo by Jose Garces will cost an extra $15.