Calling All Parrotheads

So, I’m sitting in my home office pounding away at my latest SOFREP article when my wife, who happens to be about 15 feet away at the time, sends me a text. “Hey, check this out!” she says. This time, it wasn’t another funny cat video. It was a link to a local news station, and the headline read:


“Margaritaville at Sea Offers Free Cruises for Active/Veteran Military, First Responders, Law Enforcement Officers & Teachers: ‘Heroes Sail Free’ Program Includes Nurses, Educators”


Below the title was a photo of a cool-looking cruise ship with a Parrot at the bow and a general tropical theme. Something you probably don’t know about me is that I’m highly skeptical, “Yeah,” I think. “Probably some BS gambling cruise that goes out long enough for me to lose all my money then comes back.” But, and I don’t say this very often, I was wrong.

Something you might know about me is that I research the crap out of just about everything. I have a knack for finding the truth. As it turns out, this was the real deal. And we shouldn’t be too surprised; many businesses have gone out of their way to thank the military, veteran, and first responder communities in recent years.

“It’s five o’clock somewhere”; Margaritaville at Sea in port. Screenshot from YouTube courtesy of Tony at La Lido Loca

It’s like when I first learned about Vet Tix, the program to hook veterans up with free tickets from everywhere, from theme parks to concerts, to comedy clubs to major sporting events. I’ve been to Daytona 500 four times courtesy of Vet Tix… I’ll have to do a whole write-up on them later. My point is that this is a legit opportunity to enjoy the Margaritaville lifestyle a little bit without paying the cruise fare.

Ok, So What’s the Catch?

Something else to admit here while I’m being transparent. I’m a bit cheap. I don’t want to pay more for anything than I absolutely have to, so when I got the Margaritaville representative on the phone, one of my first questions was, “So, what’s the catch?”. There is no “catch,” but you do have to cover associated port taxes and gratuities for the staff. Fair enough, they’re feeding me for three days and taking me to another country; I can’t expect zero out-of-pocket expenses.

My wife and I both qualified for the zero fare promotion (she’s a nurse), and our expenses to book the trip were $176.88 to cover port taxes and $59.80 (for both of us) to cover pre-paid gratuities. That’s a grand total out-the-door price of $236.68 for a three-day, two-night micro cruise vacation from Florida to the Bahamas. In addition, if you happen to be a disabled vet like me, you don’t have to pay for parking in any cruise ports in the state of Florida. That will save you about $20 a day.