Get ready to set sail on a gambling adventure for the ages. Enjoy beautiful sights and sounds as you embark on a journey across the sea in pursuit of an undoubtedly tropical destination. Along the way, you’ll need something to keep you occupied. After all, there’s only so much fun you can have staring at the distant blue horizon as it slowly fades away. Luckily for those travelers with the insight to prepare for this eventuality, casino cruise ships are available to dozens of amazing destinations. It’s important to note that not all cruise ships feature casinos. The four cruise ships that make up Disney Cruise Line don’t offer gambling, and the same goes for Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America. If gambling on international waters is of interest to you, be sure to confirm that your choice of cruise operator offers casinos aboard its ships.
Once you’ve booked your tickets and boarded the ship, you’ll be ready for a few days of pure gambling paradise. Nearly all cruise ship casinos offer a wide selection of slot machines options, and most offer a collection of the most popular table games – including blackjack, roulette, craps and a variety of poker games. Depending on your ship, poker tables may feature dealer-dealt tables or electronic tables. If you’ve got a preference in this regard, be sure to consult with your booking agent.
Finding a Game
Much like typical brick and mortar casinos, cruise ship casinos normally offer plenty of options for scratching your gaming itch. Nearly all ship casinos offer penny slots for those looking to take it slow. If you prefer to raise the stakes, some cruises offer high stakes gambling. If you choose to sail with Royal Caribbean, for example, the pit boss will organize a high stakes game if enough high rollers are interested in playing. Otherwise, the table games will almost always feature limits. Remember, there’s no rush when you’re gambling on a cruise ship. Unless the ship is in port, you’ll probably have plenty of time on your hands.
For players looking to pass the time, few options are more appealing than tournaments. Most cruises with casinos offer tournaments of some kind, most commonly slots and blackjack. In order to participate, you’ll pay a buy-in and attempt to make more tournament cash than your competitors. Winners of these tournaments may be rewarded with cash prizes, but other offers are sometimes substituted. On Royal Caribbean, for example, Texas Hold ‘em champions win a free cruise for two on which the final poker tournament is held. The prize pool for this tournament is in excess of $100,000! Nothing says success like winning a vacation while you’re on vacation, right?
Maximizing Play Time
International laws can put a damper on your gaming excursion. In most cases casinos are forced to close while ships are in port, leaving you forced to get out of the casino and enjoy a little fun in the sun. If that sounds unpleasant, you’ll want to choose a cruise itinerary with a lot of sea days. Some exceptions to this rule include overnight ports in Bermuda and Nassau. In Bermuda, casinos on ships are permitted to operate from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. In Nassau, casinos on ships can operate from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. In most cases, casinos can only open when the ship is three to 12 nautical miles from the coast. Alaskan cruises are the exception. In the case of Alaska, cruise ship casinos can open three miles after departing one Alaskan port until three miles before arriving at the next. The exception is worth noting for gamblers, because cruises along Alaska’s southeastern coast tend to stick close to the shore.
Debunking the Myths
Because they operate in international waters and are therefore not consistently regulated, cruise ship casinos have been the subject of a number of misconceptions through the years. For example, it’s a widely believed theory that the slot machines on cruises are so tight that it’s impossible to win . The truth is that every ship’s slots are programmed independently, so making a blanket statement is always going to be tricky. While it does seem to be the case that cruise ship slots can be a bit tighter than those found in Vegas, it’s worth noting that slots are the most popular form of gambling at sea. If cruise lines want their customers to be happy, machines that are impossible to beat wouldn’t be a great place to start. Go ahead and play a slot machine. You may come out a winner.
Another misconception regarding casinos on cruise ships is that they feature the same experience during the day as they do at night. When you think about it, this kind of makes sense. After all, the players at a cruise ship casino are sort of a captive audience. However, there are some differences that early birds and night owls will experience. Table minimums, for example, are usually higher in the evening hours. While you may enjoy $5 blackjack during the day, don’t be surprised if the minimum jumps to $10 or more after the sun goes down. Keep an eye out for a game called Super Fun 21. This is a form of blackjack with all of the queens removed from the shoe. By changing the rules, the house edge goes through the roof, and that’s not as super fun as it may seem.
Gambling at sea is a popular pastime for those setting sale for exotic destinations aboard cruise ships. Whether you’re a seasoned pro at the tables or a casino newbie looking to keep yourself occupied, there’s something for everyone aboard these enormous vessels. Remember to pace yourself, particularly if luck isn’t on your side. Most cruise lines will allow you to put your winnings and losses on your shipboard account, which can lead to some serious vacation regret if you lose sight of the big picture. Use your head, and only risk what you can afford to lose. If you’re able to win a few bucks, chock it up to good luck and buy a round of drinks for your fellow passengers. That’s a great way to become really popular for the rest of the trip!