Cruise ships give a unique experience of waking up in a different place every day, well-rested and surrounded by comfort. With so many amenities and entertainment options, a great time is guaranteed. If your type of fun is playing slots or table games, then a casino holiday cruise might be right up your alley.
On the other hand, there is a lot to think about when planning your casino cruise. From the selection of the company, the ship you prefer, all the way to the travel itinerary. The last one is quite important as cruise casinos come with restricted working hours due to gambling bans in many jurisdictions.
Do all cruise ships have a casino?
Although the vast majority of cruise ships feature a casino onboard, there are exceptions. One major one is a Disney Cruise line – none of its vessels have a casino. It doesn’t even depend from company to company, but from ship to ship.
For example, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America doesn’t have a place to gamble, while Norwegian Bliss provides this option. Either way, the amenities of all ships are transparently disclosed by the companies, so you won’t have a problem finding the one perfect for your casino cruise.
Opening hours and age limit
If you’re thinking of waltzing into the casino at any time, think again. When the ship is docked, the casino is closed (as well as Duty shop), except in ports of a select few countries where such form of gambling is permitted, such as Bermuda and Malta.
Once the vessel crosses the sea border and enters the international waters, the cruise casino is allowed to open its doors. However, even when the ship is out to sea, the casino might be closed during daylight hours. Night hours vary, but casinos on cruise ships tend to stay open until 2 or 3 AM.
As for the minimum age, it’s the same as in most land-based casinos. Usually, the minimum age to be in the casino is 18, but many companies raised this bar to a minimum of 21 years old. Also, don’t be surprised if the age limit changes in the middle of a cruise and goes from 18 to 21. Again, it depends on which part of the world you’re cruising around.
Types of Games that Cruise Casinos Offer
All cruise ship casinos have numerous and diverse selections of slot machines, including penny slots. Most also feature various table games, including blackjack, roulette, and a variety of poker games. American cruise lines usually offer tables for playing Craps as well. Again, it all depends from ship to ship.
Are there high-stakes tables?
Chances to find a cruise ship that offers truly high-stakes gambling are quite slim. Table games are mostly limited. Sometimes, if enough high rollers want to play a high-stakes game, the pit boss may arrange a game. But that’s not a common practice and truly depends on the company’s policy.
Casino loyalty club and tournaments
Some cruise casinos offer a loyalty program for frequent players. It’s quite similar to the ones seen in the online platforms – place money bets and earn points in return. Here points can lead to rewards such as free drinks, discounts on services, or similar perks.
Gambling just to earn rewards is not wise as you need to bet a lot of money to rack up a significant number of points. You can easily end up spending more money than the reward is actually worth. Also, earned perks do not always transfer to another ship, even within the same fleet, but you have to use them for the duration of the cruise.
Some cruisers organize regular slot, poker, and blackjack tournaments, which might be an exciting addition to your casino holiday cruise experience. Most tournaments are buy-ins, but several companies allow rebuying during blackjack and poker tournaments. Winners of tournaments typically win money, but prizes can also be in the form of a free cruise for two.
Is cash allowed in cruise casinos?
The ship card you receive on check-in or after boarding is everything on the cruise. It is your room key, payment method, and identification document. You fund it by connecting your credit card or depositing a cash amount.
Thus, cruise ships are completely cashless – all additional charges are placed right on your ship card. The only place where paper money might change hands is the casino where you usually have the opportunity to buy chips with cash as well.
No matter how you buy chips – to play in the casino, the ship card is necessary. When playing on tables, the dealer has to take and swipe your ship card before you can participate in the game.
Set a budget for a casino holiday cruise
The first rule of gambling applies here too – don’t risk losing more than you can afford. But simply planning a budget for each casino visit and sticking to it might not cut it here.
When you plan a casino holiday cruise, you have to calculate the total cost of the entire trip, but some of them can easily be overlooked in the fine print.
- Drinks are not free – All drinks on the entire ship non-included in the buffet table are subject to additional charges. This goes for alcoholic drinks, but also for sodas and water.
- Cruise gratuities – Gratuities are rarely included in the total price and most non-luxury cruise lines automatically add these staff tips varying from $5 to $20 per person, per day, to passengers’ shipboard accounts.
- Excursions are extra – If you wish to take the organized ship’s excursion to the shore, it can be a very expensive trip.
- Special services and amenities – Some ships are so big that it resembles a small floating town with racing tracks, climbing walls, golf, tennis courts, spa treatments, etc. But here’s the catch – most of such entertainment content isn’t included in the price of a cruise.
So, before you book your casino holiday cruise, do a little more research about the chosen ship. See what it offers and add the cost of services you wish to use during the stay. Whether you’re going on a cruise to see the world, relax, try to win some money in the casino, or all combined – have a smooth sailing and a calm sea, with a lot of fun.