Everything You Need to Know About Gambling Cruises
Do you enjoy taking vacations that allow you to relax and gamble at the same time? You are not alone! Maybe you have been to Atlantic City and Las Vegas and are ready to experience something different. Why not try a gambling cruise?
Gambling cruises offer a similar experience to other gambling vacation hotspots you may have visited in the past, providing the casino atmosphere you know and love and offering your favorite slots and table games. Of course, there are some distinct differences between land-based casinos and gambling cruises. We provide details on those differences below along with info on non-gambling activities offered on these cruises, the history of gambling cruises, our recommended gambling cruises, and our gambling cruise directory. We strive to make this guide as thorough and accurate as possible, which is why we update it on a regular basis. So, are you ready to be exposed to the most up-to-date info on gambling cruises? Let's dig in!
Differences from Land-Based Casinos
Learning about the differences between land-based casinos and cruise-based casinos will help you determine whether or not gambling cruises are the right fit for you!
The age restriction for gambling cruises is typically less restrictive than land-based casinos. You will find that most cruises allow anyone 18 years of age or older to enjoy the on-site casinos, while land-based casinos generally prefer their players to be 21 years or older. Age restrictions on cruises will vary depending on where they are located, though. For example, cruises near Alaska typically require players to be 21.
Payout percentages are typically lower on gambling cruises than on land-based casinos. Although the difference in payout percentage is not substantial, it is there. Expect games offered on gambling cruises to have a 1%-1.5% lower payout percentage than their land-based casino counterpart.
The modern trend for new land-based casinos is to offer a non-smoking section or to make the entire casino a non-smoking facility. This is not the case for gambling cruises, where smoking is allowed without restriction. The only exception is cigars; cigars are generally not permitted to be used on gambling cruises.
Professional poker players hardly ever make an appearance on gambling cruises, giving skilled players the opportunity to make a significant amount of money at the tables. The competition will be very loose, as many people on cruises are there to enjoy themselves, not to make a profit. Of course, there are always going to be those few exceptions to the rule.
Gambling cruises are best suited to fit the needs of low rollers, as they tend to offer lower table minimums than land-based casinos. Finding roulette tables that offer a $1 per spin bet is common on cruises but nearly impossible in land-based casinos. Poker tables and blackjack tables typically have minimums set at $1, $3, and $5 on cruises. Try finding something that reasonable in a land-based setting!
Non-Gambling Activities on Gambling Cruises
It would be rare to find a cruise where the only attraction is gambling, even if that is the cruise's main focus. Most gambling cruises offer a wide selection of other activities designed to keep their customers happy. Exactly what activities are offered vary from cruise to cruise, but here are some examples of activities you will find.
Many cruises offer an assortment of classes to sign up for. Classes commonly listed include cooking, photography, and yoga. More obscure classes include glass blowing and ice carving. Check with the agency you are going through to see what classes are available and to see if you can sign up for classes ahead of time, as they usually fill up quickly.
Cruises often put on various concerts and shows in an attempt to keep their passengers entertained. Well-known musicians that have made an appearance on gambling cruise ships include Boston, Lionel Richie, Rascal Flatts, and Smokey Robinson, to name a few. Other shows you can expect to find include magic shows, plays, musicals, and more.
Since cruises are generally stocked full of delicious foods, you can expect your calorie intake to increase while you're onboard. Want to avoid gaining weight and relieve stress at the same time? Then exercising is a must! Lucky for you, cruises often have a designated fitness area that includes weights, treadmills, ellipticals, etc.
Those who find reading to be a relaxing activity will appreciate the fact that many cruises have an exhaustive library. You will typically find a wide selection of fiction, non-fiction, fantasy, mystery, and romance novels. Some cruises even provide a nice selection of magazines to browse through, too. Of course, any book or magazine you borrow must be returned by the end of the cruise.
Cruise ships often have standard theaters built into them, and modern cruise ships even offer IMAX theaters. The movies that are offered on cruise ships tend to be a year or two old, but every once in a while, you will find a cruise ship that offers brand-new ones. Either way, watching a movie is a great way to unwind in between gambling sessions.
Gambling cruises know players can't endure long playing sessions on an empty stomach, which is why they have a variety of restaurants to choose from. American, Chinese, French, Italian, and Mexican cuisine is often served. Sometimes even Indian, Thai, and Japanese can be found. They will also have an assortment of beverages on offer: beer, soda, water, wine, and so on.
Looking for a little adrenaline rush? Theme park-style rides found on select cruise ships may be just what you need. While standard roller coasters probably won't be available, water rides and sky rides might be. Check with your cruise line when booking your tickets to see what rides they have available.
What's more relaxing than laying out by the pool or going for a quick swim? Nothing, that's what! Most, if not all, cruise ships have a swimming pool. Some have multiple pools to choose from, and others even have hot tubs. Since cruises are required to have a lifeguard on duty, the pool hours will be limited. Most close around 10 pm, so plan accordingly.
The History of Gambling Cruises
Decades before the first gambling cruise was launched, they had what you would call gambling ships. These ships strictly offered gambling and nothing more. They were small in size, only able to hold around 100 passengers. Even if it was illegal to gamble where the ships ported from, they would still be allowed to offer casino games once they were three miles offshore in international waters.
An early gambling ship that you may have heard of was the Johanna Smith. It was an old lumber schooner that was converted into a gambling ship in the early 1920s. It ported from Long Beach, California, for about twelve years before it was destroyed in a fire.
Another example of an early gambling ship was the SS Monte Carlo. Also porting from California, this ship served thousands of people over the years until it sank off the shore of San Diego in 1937. Ships like those are rare to come by nowadays, though, as they are required to be twelve miles away from the coast for gambling to be legal instead of just three. This is a long distance for small gambling ships, but this distance is no problem at all for large gambling cruises.
Gambling cruises became especially popular in the late 70s and have grown in popularity ever since. They are equipped to hold thousands of passengers and are full of amenities and activities for them to enjoy. People love being able to combine their love of gambling with their love of cruise-style vacations, and modern gambling cruises make that possible.
Recommended Gambling Cruises
Carnival cruises vary based on which ship you choose and what time of the year it is. If you're looking for the most inexpensive cruise, then choose one of their older ships. Our top two choices would have to be the Carnival Inspiration and the Carnival Ecstasy, as they both offer rooms for less than $50 a night during their offseason.
Princess cruises are a little pricier, but they are still reasonable. Most rooms are within the $100 to $150 price range. They have over 700 different cruises to choose from that port from various cities all over the world. Princess cruises typically have more amenities than Carnival cruises and are known for having the best restaurants in the industry.
Expect fine dining and top-of-the-line room service onboard this ship! As you might have guessed, a cruise line that is known for offering the most luxurious cruises is also going to be known for offering the most expensive ones. Silversea Cruise does not list their prices on their website, but after searching the web, we found their standard rooms to be over $200 per night. Prices vary according to location, of course, and there are over 800 locations to choose from.
Gambling Cruise Directory
This cruise offers 3-card poker, blackjack, roulette, and slot games! The minimum wagers are in the $3 to $5 range, making them the perfect option for low rollers. Anyone 18 years of age or older can be a passenger on this cruise unless it happens to be porting from Alaska. In that case, the minimum age is raised to 21. They accept cash, onboard accounts, and a pre-approved line of credit. Smokers are welcome.
- Phone Number: 1-888-532-5828
- Website: www.azamaraclubcruises.com
Here you'll find 3-card poker, bingo, blackjack, craps, roulette, slot games, and video poker. Their minimum wagers are all relatively low, but they vary from game to game. The minimum wager for roulette is set at $1, while the minimum wager for blackjack is $5.
Every other game falls somewhere in between. Some of their cruises offer tournament-style competitions, while others do not. The minimum gambling age is 18. They only accept cash or an onboard account; they do not extend lines of credit to players at this time. While they are smoker friendly, they also have smoke-free areas for non-users.
- Phone Number: (800) 764-7419
- Website: www.carnival.com/onboard/casino
Celebrity cruises are known for their wide selection of games. They offer 3-card poker, baccarat, blackjack, craps, Let It Ride, roulette, slot games, Texas hold'em, and video poker. Table minimums are typically around $5, but they do vary by game. The minimum gambling age is 18 unless the ship is making any stops in Alaska. When that happens, the minimum age changes to 21. Onboard accounts and cash are the only two forms of payment they accept. They are a smoke-free cruise line.
- Phone Number: (800) 722-5941
- Website: www.celebritycruises.com
This cruise line has 3-card poker, 5-card poker, blackjack, roulette, slot games, and Super Fun 21 available to choose from. Their table minimums are set at $5 for all their card games unless they happen to be running a special, at which point table minimums can be found as low as $1. Passengers must be 18 years or older to board this cruise. They accept cash, onboard accounts, and pre-approved lines of credit. They are a smoke-free facility.
- Phone Number: (800) 247-7320
- Website: www.costacruise.com
In addition to a variety of slot games, expect to find all of the typical casino games at Crystal Cruises, like 3-card poker, blackjack, craps, roulette, Texas hold'em, and video poker. One game they also offer that is hard to find anywhere else is mini-baccarat.
This game is only available upon request, though. Their table minimum is $5, no matter what game you play. Anyone 18 years or older is free to play at the on-site casino. They accept payments in the form of cash, onboard accounts, and lines of credit. Smoking is prohibited on this cruise.
- Phone Number: (888) 722-0021
- Website: www.crystalcruises.com
Only standard games are offered here: 3-card poker, blackjack, roulette, and slot games. The minimum bet amounts offered are the lowest we have ever seen, though. Roulette can be played at only 25 cents per spin, while blackjack and poker are available at only $1 per spin. You are free to play at the casino as long as you are 18 years of age or older. Since they don't offer a line of credit, you will need either cash or an onboard account to gamble. This is another smoke-free facility.
- Phone Number: (800) 728-6273
- Website: www.cunard.com
3-card poker, blackjack, craps, roulette, slot games, and Texas hold'em can all be found here. The table game minimum is set at $5 for every game other than roulette, which has a low $1 minimum. Unique gambler features they have include an onboard lottery and blackjack tournaments. The minimum gambling age is 18; cash and onboard accounts are the only acceptable form of payment. Smokers are welcome to play in their facilities.
- Phone Number: (877) 932-4259
- Website: www.hollandamerica.com
This cruise line offers traditional games like bingo, blackjack, roulette, and slots. In addition to that, they also offer more obscure games like chemin de fer, punto banco, and trente et quarante. Their table minimums are a little higher than what we typically see offered on gambling cruises, as they range from $5 to $10.
They have ongoing tournaments for most of their games. The minimum gambling age for their Mediterranean cruises is 18, while their minimum age for their Caribbean cruises is 21. They accept cash, credit cards, and onboard accounts. Smoking is allowed on all MSC cruises except the MSC Divina.
- Phone Number: (877) 665-4655
- Website: www.msccruisesusa.com
The Norwegian Cruise Line offers a decent selection of casino games. They have 3 card poker, baccarat, blackjack, craps, Let It Ride, Pai Gow Poker, roulette, slot games, and Texas hold'em. The minimum bet is $5 for most table games. Tournaments are available for blackjack and slot games only.
One thing this cruise does have that we were impressed by was free lessons on how to play every game they have available. This is a great opportunity for anyone who wants to learn how to play a new game or simply brush up on the rules of a game they haven't played in a while. Their casino is exclusively for players 18 years of age or older that have cash on hand, as that is the only payment method they accept. Smokers are welcome here.
- Phone Number: (866) 234-7350
- Website: www.ncl.com
This cruise line only has the bare minimum games available: blackjack, poker, roulette, and slot games. Their minimum bets are higher than what we generally see at other cruise lines. They can be anywhere from $10 to $25, making this cruise more appropriate for players with substantial budgets. Players are required to be 18 years old and pay with cash; there are no exceptions to these rules. Also, smoking is prohibited on the premises.
- Phone Number: (855) 623-2642
- Website: www.oceaniacruises.com
Princess cruises carry just about any game you can think of. They have 3-card poker, 5-card poker, baccarat, bingo, blackjack, craps, Let It Ride, slot games, Texas hold'em, and several other games as well. Blackjack, poker, and slot game tournaments are available. One thing to note is that this cruise line has a higher minimum betting age than normal, as it is generally set at 21.
There are some exceptions, however, as passengers on cruises porting from Japan only have to be 20, and passengers on cruises porting from Australia only have to be 18. They accept cash payments and payments through an onboard account. While they do allow smoking, they will occasionally have smoke-free nights.
- Phone Number: (800) 774-6237
- Website: www.princess.com
Here you will find blackjack, mini-craps, poker, roulette, and an assortment of slot games. Table minimums are on the higher side, ranging from $5 to $25. You must be 18 years old and have cash in your pockets to enjoy the benefits of the casino. They don't offer any tournaments or onboard lotteries at this time. Smokers have permission to smoke anywhere on the ship, as long as they refrain from smoking in other passengers' faces.
- Phone Number: (844) 473-4368
- Website: www.rssc.com
The games offered here are as follows: blackjack, craps, poker, roulette, and slot games. Table minimums range from $3 to $5, which is great news for low rollers. They provide blackjack and slot game tournaments for reasonable buy-in fees on most of their cruises. Some cruises even host Texas hold'em tournaments as well.
Gambling lessons are available for those who want to better educate themselves. Lessons are generally offered in a group setting. The minimum gambling age is 18 unless they are sailing through Alaska. Then, the age requirement is raised to 21. Pay via cash, a line of credit, or an onboard account. Smoking is acceptable.
- Phone Number: (844) 256-6649
- Website: www.royalcaribbean.com
Blackjack, roulette, and slot games are also available on this cruise. Poker is only offered on select days. This cruise line can accommodate almost anyone's budget, as they have table minimums as low as $5 and as high as $100. Their minimum gambling age is 21, no matter where they are porting from. Cash, onboard accounts, and traveler's checks are suitable forms of payment. Smoking is not allowed here.
- Phone Number: (866) 755-5619
- Website: www.seabourn.com
Only blackjack, roulette, and slot games are available on this cruise line. They offer free blackjack lessons to give you an opportunity to hone your skills. Their minimum bet amount is $5 for blackjack and $2 for roulette. They accept payments in the form of cash or cash advances. Anyone 18 years or older is welcome to play here, but no one is permitted to smoke.
- Phone Number: (888) 978-070
- Website: www.silversea.com
This cruise line offers blackjack, craps, poker, roulette, and a large selection of slot games. Table minimums range from $2 to $10 depending on what game you are playing and whether or not you are traveling with them during their busy season (May through September).
Sunborn has a cash-only casino policy that is strictly enforced; no lines of credit or cash advances will be allowed. They do have several ATMs on location for your convenience, though. You must be 18 years old to enjoy the casino. Smoking is acceptable except for in their designated smoke-free zones.
- Phone Number: 350 2001 6000
- Website: www.sunborngibraltar.com
Windstar provides several variations of blackjack, poker, and roulette with table minimums starting at $5. A myriad of slot games to choose from is also available, most of which are by Microgaming or NetEnt. Payments can be made via onboard accounts or cash.
On the higher side, their minimum gambling age is set at 21. Alcoholic beverages are served on the casino floor at no cost to players, hence the higher age requirement. They currently do not allow smoking on their ship.
- Phone Number: (888) 388-2643
- Website: www.windstarcruises.com
Some Final Points
If you have never experienced a gambling cruise before, then we certainly recommend booking a trip soon. Not only do they provide affordable gambling, but they also offer a wide selection of non-gambling-related activities that will keep you entertained for hours.
There is a myriad of gambling cruises to choose from, and they vary in terms of game selection, table minimums, age requirements, and more. So, take your time to sift through our directory to find the best cruise for you.