A cruise line sailing out of the Port of Palm Beach, Florida, to Freeport, Bahamas, is offering active-duty troops and veterans free passage on its three-day, two-night trips starting this month.
Margaritaville at Sea is a 1,680-passenger cruise ship that first started sailing early this year. It features country music star Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville-themed shows and amenities, and the "iconic Margaritaville lifestyle," according to the ship's website. It's owned by the former Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line and Margaritaville Enterprises. The ship previously sailed as the Grand Classica through Bahama Paradise.
Now, in a "Heroes Sail Free" program announced Sept. 7, veterans, active-duty troops, first responders and educators who are verified through the GovX ID system can get free passage on two-night sailings between Sept. 9, 2022, and Dec. 29, 2023.
Only those verified through the platform get free tickets, and single occupancy for rooms, which typically carries a higher cruise price tag, is permitted. Additional passengers who are not verified by GovX are full price.
According to the ship's website, those tickets typically range from $99 to about $250, depending on the sailing date.
The freebie does carry some blackout dates -- Dec. 30, 2022, and Dec. 31, 2023 -- and the website states that additional dates can be added at any time. Passengers on free tickets will need to pay fees and taxes, which sit at about $90 for a cruise priced at $99, and the tickets are non-transferable. Qualified passengers can take one free cruise a year, the website says.
The free tickets apply to inside staterooms only -- the ship's smallest cabin -- for most of the offer's timeline, but free upgrades to ocean-view rooms are available for sailings through Oct. 6 of this year at the time of this writing.
Users must also pay a cruise deposit of $50 per person for bookings more than 61 days from departure. Those deposit fees go up to $75 if the user upgrades the room type and books more than 91 days in advance.
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