Cruise ships offer a number of entertaining activities, including pools, shows, go-karting, and movies. Some cruise lines even feature casinos.
Given that cruises travel into international waters, they can provide legal gaming. If you’re somebody who likes playing blackjack or slots in between enjoying cool ocean breezes, then you’ll appreciate these casinos.
Of course, you should also know the facts about cruise casinos before leaving port. After all, you don’t want to be stuck at sea and not be able to play your favorite games. Here are 7 important points you should understand before booking a cruise ticket.
1 – Cruise Ship Casinos Have Limited Hours
If you’ve been to a major gaming destination like Atlantic City or Las Vegas, then you’re used to seeing 24/7 casinos. Barring special circumstances, some joints in these cities never close down and are perfect for when you can’t sleep and want to gamble.
However, you shouldn’t expect the same convenience on cruise ships. No cruise line keeps its gaming floors open 24 hours a day.
Common hours for a cruise ship casino range from 8am to 2am. In rarer cases, casinos might keep operating until 3 or 4am.
You should certainly find time to gamble at some point during this time window. Just don’t visit the casino at 5am, though, and expect to get in.
Additionally, cruise ships close their casinos whenever docking in a country where gaming is illegal. Of course, they’ll probably let you and other passengers know about this in advance.
2 – You Probably Won’t Get Free Drinks
Free drinks are practically a given at many casinos. Gaming establishments give out free alcohol to any serious gambler.
Therefore, you might immediately assume that cruise ship casinos will also pass out free drinks. Surprisingly, they aren’t very generous with alcohol.
The vast majority of cruise lines force you to pay for every drink—even if you’re gambling heavily on slots, blackjack, roulette, or any other game.
Luxury cruise lines like Regent and Silversea, for example, are exceptions and may open the tap for legitimate players. Furthermore, a pit boss could decide that one or more gamblers are worthy of free drinks.
By and large, though, cruise casinos don’t give out free drinks like their land-based counterparts do. Their main business goes beyond gambling, which is why they don’t feel the need to comp alcohol.
3 – Many Cruise Ships Do Offer Loyalty Programs
Land-based and online casinos often feature comprehensive loyalty programs. They deliver everything from free meals to limousine transportation through these programs.
Many cruise lines are the same in this manner. They give out rewards to people no matter if they’re dining or playing slot machines.
As mentioned before, ships aren’t too keen on giving away free drinks. They do, however, offer loyalty points that can be exchanged for rewards.
You can use these points to pay for extra food, side entertainment, and even future cruise vacations. Furthermore, you’ll move up in the loyalty program as you continue spending with the company.
Of course, you should never gamble just to accumulate rewards. The value of loyalty benefits almost never equals the theoretical losses. But if you’re going to play casino games, then you should definitely take advantage of the VIP perks.
4 – Some Cruises Don’t Offer Table Games
When thinking of a cruise ship casino, you may immediately envision slot machines, roulette wheels, baccarat tables, and more. This vision, however, doesn’t always match reality.
While these ships are vast in size, not all of them have room for blackjack and craps tables. As a result, they may only offer slot and video poker machines. In some cases, they might roll out roulette and blackjack machines too.
You aren’t going to find classic table games at the same casinos, though. Provided you’re a big slots or video poker fan, then you’ll have no problem with this.
On the other hand, you might enjoy table games even more. In this case, you should look for a cruise ship that does carry the games you’re looking for.
5 – Slot Machines Dominate the Gaming Floor
As with any casino, slot machines fill up the majority of cruise ship gaming floors. They number in the hundreds on bigger ships.
This vast selection of slot machines provides an opportunity to chase jackpots and other large prizes. It also ensures more access to different types of slots and bonus rounds.
You may not find the same volume of slots on cruise ships as you would in the Bellagio or MGM Grand. But if you’re just looking at the casino as one piece of side entertainment, then you’ll have more than enough slots to choose from.
You might even enjoy a wide selection of video poker machines. Bonus Poker, Deuces Wild, Jacks or Better, and Joker Poker are just some of the games that could be available.
6 – Some Cruise Ships Let You Smoke in the Casino
Many countries have soured on smoking in public. That said, far fewer gambling establishments allow people to smoke inside of them.
The cruise business is a little different in this regard. Certain companies, such as Norwegian Bliss, do let you smoke on designated parts of the gaming floor. If you’re somebody who smokes on a frequent basis, then you’ll appreciate such ships.
On the other hand, many other cruise lines don’t let you smoke in any of the indoor facilities, including the casino. You should do your research beforehand if this is an aspect that will negatively impact your experience.
7 – You May Only Have to Be 18 to Gamble
Many countries require you to be somewhere between the ages of 19 and 21 to play in casinos. In some situations, though, cruise ships differ by allowing 18-year-olds to gamble.
Much depends upon where the ship will be docking during the trip. If it docks in Italy or Ireland, for example, then you’ll only have to be 18 to play casino games. Assuming it docks in Greece or India, then you’ll need to be 21 or older.
This is another area where it pays to do research before stepping onboard. You should email the cruise line’s support or research the countries where it’ll be docking. This guide provides an extensive look at gambling laws around the world.
Are Cruise Ship Casinos Worthwhile?
If you’re a hardcore gambler who’s looking for the largest selection of casino games, then cruise ships may not meet all of your expectations. Assuming you’re merely hoping to enjoy everything that a ship has to offer, though, then the casino scene should be up to par.
Of course, the cruise line itself will play a role as well. Bigger ships tend to feature larger casinos and, thus, a wider game selection. This variety makes all the difference with regard to if table games are available or not.
Loyalty programs will also improve your gaming experience. You should always make sure that a cruise line comps any dollar spent on their vessels.
When you have any questions regarding a ship’s casino, then you should contact support ahead of time. This way, you can find out exactly what a casino offers and won’t be surprised by anything when arriving there.
The combination of cruise ships and casinos makes for an unforgettable trip. In order to make your vacation unforgettable, though, you want to know everything going into the matter.
First and foremost, you should realize that the land-based casino experience doesn’t always apply to cruise lines. You likely won’t get free drinks just for gambling. Some ships don’t even have table games either.
If you’ve just become an adult, you’ll appreciate how certain cruise lines let 18-year-olds gamble. Assuming you’re a smoker, then you might be able to light up somewhere on the gaming floor.
One cruise line can differ greatly from the next regarding its casino rules. That said, you should look into whatever company you’ll be dealing with and find out about the casino ahead of time.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. …