One of the most exciting things you can do during your cruise is to pay a visit to the casino for a little action at the tables.
The casinos on most cruise ships are a little more laid back than their land-based counterparts, but they still offer plenty of excitement and the chance to win big. Beginners and high rollers are made to feel equally welcome with complimentary lessons available to help you brush up on your skills. Many ships run tournaments as well, giving you the chance to compete in your favourite games against your fellow cruisers.
Here is our pick of the best casinos at sea with a taste of what they have to offer new players and more seasoned gamblers:
Royal Caribbean has a casino on every single one of their ships offering the thrills and spills of Vegas at sea. Their ‘Casino Royale’ offers 18,000 square foot of entertainment with elegant décor and a wide range of activities on offer. Alongside the hundreds of slot machines, you’ll find roulette, poker (3 card and Texas), blackjack and many more games pitched at players of all levels, with casino and card lessons available for complete beginners.
Royal Caribbean runs Club Royale, a rewards programme for high rollers. The casino managers will invite you to join based on your level of play, and as a member, you’ll enjoy complimentary drinks and discounts off future cruises. High rollers may also be interested in the line’s VIP Casino Cruises – these travel to various destinations including Scandinavia and Hawaii and include the opportunity to play in tournaments whilst on board.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian’s casinos offer plenty of exciting games and rewards for cruisers that enjoy a flutter. Each one is beautifully decorated and packed with games to satisfy even the most discerning gambler. The line boasts over 2,800 slots and almost 200 table games across their fleet of ships, and they’ve won a number of awards including Best of Gaming Winner from Casino Player Magazine for twelve years in a row. Slots are reel, video or hybrids and take everything from 1¢ to $100 allowing you to join in whatever your entertainment budget. If you have a tendency to get a little engrossed you’ll be pleased to know there’s no need to take a break as you can also play video poker while sitting at the casino bar. The Vegas-style table games take from $5 to $5,000 and all the usual choices are there.
For the more seasoned gambler, there’s a weekly blackjack, poker and slot tournament and if you’re a little rusty or short of experience, you can take a free gaming lesson in advance.
Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival has a casino on every ship, too, and offers a decent selection of games set in razzle-dazzle style décor. The usual favourites – craps, roulette, Three Card Poker and Caribbean stud poker – are available, with a minimum bet of $5 – along with hundreds of favourite slots. There’s also a chance to win ‘the Megacash jackpot’. This is the biggest progressive jackpot available at sea and is linked to more than fifty cruise ships across the world. Carnival boasts that one of their guests scooped up a staggering $1,065,428.00 once – so it’s perhaps worth a flutter.
Cruisers can join the Carnival Players Club and clock up points that entitle them to free drink rewards and cashback. For those with a competitive streak, there are casino tournaments on board with some decent prizes on offer. Carnival’s onboard ‘Fun Times’ lists the tournament details including dates and times.
Holland America Line
Holland America offers a casino experience that suits both beginners and experienced gamblers. Their games cater to a range of levels and for those without experience, there are free lessons available from the friendly dealers.
There’s the usual range of table games that include blackjack, roulette, three card poker, Texas and on some ships, craps. There’s also plenty of the standard slots to choose from, together with video poker and the Megacash jackpot.
Holland America’s rewards program is Club 21. There’s no need to sign up for this – you automatically join when you put your cruise key card into a slot machine or show it to a dealer at one of the tables. As a member of the club, you can benefit from cruise offers and cashback rewards.
All of Holland America’s slot machines are coinless – you just insert your key card to play, with a daily limit of $1,500. A credit line can be prearranged with the cruise line from $2,500.
Like the other cruise lines, Holland America offers slot and blackjack tournaments. They also run a cruise lottery on all of their ships, giving you the opportunity to win a 7-day cruise.
Celebrity Cruises offer a wide range of casino games in stylish surroundings with a huge range of slot machines – an incredible 237 on the Celebrity Reflection although even their smallest casino has a very respectable 181 on offer. The games on offer differ from ship to ship but typically include blackjack, roulette, three card poker, craps and Texas Hold ‘Em. Some games are available on select ships by request, including Baccarat and Let It Ride.
High rollers can join the Blue Chip club which is by invitation. This usually happens after two hours of play daily during the course of your cruise with average hands of at least $50 on blackjack, or $25 on three card poker or Caribbean Stud poker. Players betting $50 a roll-on craps or $25 a spin at the roulette table will also qualify, and those betting $5 a spin on the slots can expect an invite too. Members are rewarded with discounts off the cost of future cruises which range from $250 to the entire cost of the cruise.
Another great feature of Celebrity’s casinos is the Fortune app which allows you to play in the casino wherever you are on the ship while in international waters. You’ll just need to top up your funds at the casino deck.
Images sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credit: clry2