Cruise ship and casino image

The best gambling cruises for casino players

Thinking of sailing across the Atlantic, the Mediterranean or anywhere in the world? If you’re a gambler, you need not worry that you’ll run out of gambling opportunities, especially if you choose the right gambling cruise. On such cruise ships, you can benefit from an experience that's comparable to the most renowned land-based casinos, within a sophisticated and luxurious setting. In this short guide, we’ll let you know what to expect of cruise ship casinos and also introduce you to which ones which we believe might offer the best gambling opportunities.

What is a gambling cruise really like?

Most large cruise ships will have a casino on board, which should operate much like a land-based casino, perhaps on a slightly smaller scale. They would normally have a decent collection of slot machines and also host the most popular table games managed by professional dealers. The same age limits of 18+ normally apply, although on certain cruises this age limit goes up to 21+. Casinos aboard major cruise liners offer a rewards program that is separate from the cruise loyalty program, and some of them also hold tournaments and promotions that are very similar to land-based casinos.

One important thing you should be aware of if you’re considering gambling on a cruise ship casino is the fact that you will not be able to play while the ship is in port, since cruise ships are only allowed to operate their casinos in international waters. Therefore, you should choose a cruise that offers a variety of other activities that you also enjoy, such as fitness, games that do not require real-money gambling, cinema, and other forms of entertainment. Alternatively, go for an itinerary which offers plenty of time at sea.

Cash at cruise ship casinos

On most cruises, you will be encouraged to use your cruise card in order to gamble, but cash is widely accepted as well. To play table games, you will be able to exchange cash for chips, or you can be charged the price of the chips on your cruise card. Slot machines will normally only accept your cruise card, but some will also take cash. Keep in mind that although most big ships will have an ATM, the withdrawal fee will be quite high. 

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The best gambling cruises we've come across

We’ve done some research about the best cruise ships for those who intend to gamble while on holiday, and there were a few which kept surfacing throughout our searches. So here’s our list and a short description of each casino:

The Empire Casino on the Queen Mary 2

Queen Mary 2 is a luxurious cruise ship that makes transatlantic crossings between Southampton and New York. The Monte-Carlo inspired Empire Casino on board offers nine bespoke gaming tables which include Blackjack, Roulette, Three Card Poker and Texas Hold’em, as well as dozens of slot machines. It also offers complimentary gaming lessons by the croupiers for those who are unsure about the best strategy for particular table games.

Queen Mary 2 casino

The Casino Royale on Royal Caribbean’s Cruise ships

Marketed as the ‘little slice of Vegas right at sea’, Casino Royale is found on Royal Caribbean's fleet of ships, which sail to destinations across the globe. The largest and most impressive casinos on Royal Caribbean cruise ships are located on their Oasis Class ships: Harmony, Allure, Oasis and Symphony of the Seas.

The Casino Royale found on each of these ships typically hosts over 500 slot machines and 27 table games which include Caribbean Stud Poker, craps and video poker, apart from classics like Roulette and Blackjack. This casino also hosts slots, Poker and Blackjack tournaments, with prize pools that amount to six-figure sums. They also run casino promotions as well as a reward program that may lead to redeeming awesome prizes (such as another cruise vacation!)
Casino Royale Royal Caribbean

Celebrity Cruises’ Fortunes Casinos

A sophisticated and Vegas-style Fortunes Casino is to be found on each one of Celebrity Cruises’ vessels, which include Celebrity Equinox, Celebrity Reflections, Celebrity Summit, Celebrity Equinox and Celebrity Silhouette. These vessels all have different departure points; you may choose from Miami, Dublin Cape Liberty and Seattle. Destinations include Eastern and Western Caribbean, the Bahamas, the Norwegian Fjords and Alaska. Depending on the cruise ship, you’ll find different casino tournaments, which include Blackjack and slot tournaments. Their exclusive clubs also has a VIP rewards scheme. For a complete list of games available at each Fortunes Casino, we suggest you have a look at their website here

Norwegian Escape's Escape Casino

The Norwegian Escape is the biggest vessel in Norwegian Cruise Line's fleet and sails to Bermuda, The Caribbean, New England and Canada. Its Escape Casino offers a good range of slot machines and table games, and also has a separate high limit gaming area reserved for high rollers. Reportedly, there are 310 slot machines as well as 26 gaming tables at the Escape Casino. Just one word of caution: this casino has a reputation for being very noisy!

Norwegian Escape casino

Can't afford a cruise? Check out our recommended online casinos

The above cruise ships are something to consider for your dream holiday, but if you feel that's still a long way away, why not check out a couple of online casinios instead? You can play their large variety of slots and table games from the comfort of your home, and most of them also offer a live casino category which allows you to play against real players and watch the live dealers spin the roulette wheel or deal the cards. View our online casino list to discover what kind of bonuses they are offering, or click on any of the links on this page if any one of them appeals to you!

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