Casino Cruise Reviews

Many major cruise lines offer an onboard casino to provide guests with a form of entertainment. Also known as “cruise casinos”, an onboard casino will still give you a similar gambling atmosphere to Vegas, but the experience will be vastly different. Most, if not all casino cruises, have slots, table games and video poker. Payouts, hours of operation, age requirement, and drink service are also unique on a casino cruise.

In this article, we provide a comprehensive overview of standard, premium and luxury cruises that have a casino onboard. You will learn more about what they offer in terms of gaming, payment, and any other unique features applicable to casino cruise companies.

– Carnival Casino Cruises
– Royal Caribbean Casino Cruises
– Norweigan Casino Cruises

Games Available on Casino Cruises

The types of games offered on casino cruises vary depending on the cruise line, but all come standard with a mix of slot machines and table games. Overall, there is typically a game available that will meet your needs.

No matter which cruise line you choose, different variants of all the traditional casino games can almost always be found. These include blackjack, baccarat, roulette and craps. More niche games like Let It Ride, Three Card Poker or Ultimate Texas Hold’em may also be available upon request on some ships.

Claw machines – games typically found in arcades, boardwalks, or family restaurants – can be spotted onboard some ships with the opportunity to win stacks of cash. Coin pusher games are also popping up on cruise lines more and more. Every cruise ship casino has penny slots, but access to high stakes table games are usually limited.

Almost all casino cruises have some form of a tournament available, with the most popular being. poker, blackjack and slots. Winnings can include money from a pool of cash, deposits into an onboard account, or future stays and vacation packages on the cruise line.

Cruises vs. Las Vegas Casinos

Although you may feel like you are stepping into a casino on the Las Vegas strip, casino cruises have many unique features that differ from mainland casinos. First, the minimum bets at games on cruise ships are extremely low. This is a great attraction for a casual, low-stakes gambler and of course encourages more people to play games. Minimum bets range from $1-$5 for table games. There are plenty of penny slots.

Most cruises accept cash, credit cards, or your cruise card in the casino. Almost all of these casinos offer an ATM, but beware as they will have very high transaction fees. For this reason, we recommend bringing cash if you plan on gambling on a cruise ship. Some cruise lines like Costa and Windstar are cash only.

Lower Blakcjack Payouts

It is widely known that the payouts for casino cruises are rather poor. More specifically, in blackjack payouts are usually 6:5 instead of 3:2. You may find some tables paying out 3:2 if the minimum bet is higher than $25, which can be seen on Regent or Seabourn Cruise Lines. Another common rule for Blackjack casino dealers is hitting on a the “soft 17”.

Lower Video Poker Payouts

Payouts for video poker are 6:5, which is about ten times more of a loss than a 9:6 payout. Craps table are not much different on casino cruises. For example, you will often see the “Big 6, Big 8” bet and slight differences in field bets. Cruise ship casinos actually pay double when a two or 12 is rolled, providing almost a 5.6% house advantage on the bet.

Other Differences

Cashing out your winnings is also a bit different on a casino cruise. At traditional land casinos, you are able to take your redemption ticket to an electronic machine to receive your payment. Casino cruises more than likely require you to go to a cashier’s desk to receive your money.

Casino cruises are not open 24/7. Most onboard casinos are open when the ship is out to sea and/or docked at a port. There are some exceptions to this rule, however, depending on the destination country which may or may not permit gambling.

Unlike Las Vegas or other major casinos around the United States, the legal age to gamble on a casino cruise is oftentimes just 18 years old. Some cruise lines are known to raise the age to 21 depending on the destination. Adults can also be seen with minors within the casino, although they are usually not encouraged to linger around.

Casino cruises do not normally offer free drink services like those on the mainland (unless they are all-inclusive). Alcohol sales are a major revenue generator for cruise lines. With only a few thousand people on any one cruise ship, this is a disadvantage for the consumer. There are also plenty of bars available outside of the casino to buy your own drinks.

A handful of luxury cruise lines such as Regent, Crystal, and Silversea do offer free drinks because all alcohol is free during your trip on one of their ships. If you are a member of the casino loyalty club, you may also be able to get free drinks, depending on the amount of points accumulated.

Like Las Vegas where different areas of the casino are smoke-free, smoking privileges depend on the cruise line. Most casinos allow smoking, but some offer smoke-free sections. There are 9 major cruise lines that do not permit smoking at all; Celebrity, Crystal, Cunard, Oceania, Seven Seas, Silversea, Regent, Seabourn, and Windstar.

Taxes and Banking on Casino Cruises

All winnings on any casino cruise ship are taxed for U.S. citizens and must be legally reported to the IRS. For major winnings on a cruise ship, you are required to show proper identification and provide your social security number to the casino. Paperwork is provided to submit to the IRS and it is the responsibility of the winner to report such winnings as taxable income. If some winnings do not exceed a certain level, no paperwork will be issued.

Cash is allowed and encouraged to be brought onto the cruise ship. Again, some cruise lines are cash only, so be sure to check information specific to your cruise casino. All casinos are equipped with ATM machines to withdraw cash, but have transaction fees almost twice as high as on land. Most major cruise lines offer credit lines and process applications in the same format as land-based casinos.

Casino Cruise Companies

Below we have compiled a comprehensive list of which cruise lines have casinos. Each casino cruise line differs, so it is important to contact the company for any specific questions you may have.

Azamara Club Cruises

Only two specific ships in the Azamara fleet have a casino onboard; Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest. Each casino offers blackjack, roulette, slot machines, and Three Card Poker. They accept payments by Key Card, cash (USD and foreign currency), credit card or traveler’s check.

Carnival Cruise Lines

All major ships in the Carnival Cruise Line have an onboard casino. With low buy-ins, guests can play blackjack, roulette, Three Card Poker, video poker, craps, Let It Ride, scratch-off games, and slots. Select ships have tournaments at an extra cost. The casino bar is included in the price of the cruise.

Cash is accepted at all tables, slots and video poker machines. Table game players can also exchange cash for chips, or use traveler’s checks while credit cards are accepted at slot machines.

Celebrity Cruises

“High Stakes on the High Seas” is Celebrity Cruises’ Fortunes Casino. Table games that are offered include blackjack, roulette, baccarat, Three Card Poker, and Let It Ride. Slots start at $0.01 and include classic reel and video machines. Celebrity Cruises prides itself at offering better odds and custom limits compared to other cruise lines. Highlights of Celebrity Cruise casinos include promotions and tournaments. Credit applications are available in addition to cash.

Costa Cruises

Costa Cruises departs from ports in Italy and has a variety of international destinations. As part of their “Fun” package, Costa offers an onboard casino with blackjack, Three Card Poker, Five Card Poker, Fun 21, roulette, and a multitude of slot titles. This casino is one of the few that is cash only.

Crystal Cruises

Resorts World at Sea Casino is advertised as a Nevada-style gaming facility. Services are available on Crystal Serenity, Crystal Symphony, and on full-charter Crystal Esprit voyages upon request. The games available include blackjack, craps, roulette, Society Poker, Ultimate Texas Hold’em, and Mini-Baccarat (upon request).

Slots and video poker round out the stimulating games offered. A line of credit can be established prior to departing on your cruise. Resorts World at Sea Casino also equips patrons of the casino with a service called Global Cash Access. Guests can obtain cash advances using their credit or debit cards directly at the Casino Cage. There are limits and fee on cash advances.

Cunard Cruise Line

All three of Cunard Cruise Line’s ships showcase its Monte Carlo-inspired Empire Casino that has 12 tables featuring blackjack, Three Card Poker, and roulette. There are 75 electronic gaming machines which include slots and video poker. An onboard account or cash is accepted at Empire Casino.

Holland America Cruise Line

Holland America prides itself in having a casino with games for all levels of players. Newcomers to the gambling world have a chance to work with professionals to learn new skills with free lessons, while seasoned high rollers can take a chance on blackjack, roulette, Three Card Poker, Texas Hold’em, craps (on select ships) and slots.

Holland America is also unique in that it has a lottery for all guests to win free cruise packages. Bingo is popular with prize pools between $2,000 and $100,000. Huge cash prizes are an option with slots or blackjack tournaments. Holland America offers a player’s club called “Club 21” with a slew of benefits. A credit line is usually only accepted for established high rollers. Payment accepted includes cash, an onboard account, or a cash advance. Slots only accept a card with a registered onboard account.

MSC Italian Cruise Casino

“Win Big at Sea” attracts many to MSC Casino. Using your Cruise Card, you can play slots, blackjack, roulette, Three Card Poker, Extreme Poker, and Dream 21. Tournaments are offered on select ships, but complimentary demonstrations are always available to help you win big.

MSC Casino offers benefits based on your level of play which may include complimentary drinks, dinners in specialty restaurants, and drawings for exciting events or casino prizes. Your Cruise Card is your players card and must be inserted into slot machines or handed over to the dealer at table games.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Go “all in” when you board Casinos At Sea and join the Players Club. More recently, Norwegian Oceania, and Regent Seven Seas share the same Players Club. You can earn and redeem points across all cruise lines. Casinos At Sea has over 2,800 slot machines (classic reel, video and hybrid) and video poker. Boardwalk style coin pushers offer a wide range of prizes from coins, cash, or alcohol. There is also a Cash Crane in which you can grab a large wad of cash.

Casinos At Sea is the place to be for table games. Blackjack is the most popular game on Norwegian because it includes a variety of side bets like Lucky Ladies and Wheel of Madness.

Other games available are; Craps, Roulette, Three Card Poker, Let It Ride, Ultimate Texas Hold’em, Baccarat, Pai Gow Poker, and Texas Hold’em. Game variety is dependent upon ship and available upon request when you ask Casino Management. Tournaments are offered in slots, Blackjack, and Texas Hold’em. Additionally, a $350,000 Poker Challenge is available by participating in a satellite tournament onboard select ships or purchasing an entry of $1,200.

Casinos At Sea does have a credit line and applications are processed in the same format as land casinos. Cash, travelers checks, cashier’s checks, and wire transfers are accepted for gaming before embarkation.

Oceania Cruises

Again, Oceania is partnered with Norwegian and Regent Seven Seas with the Casino At Seas Reward Program. Blackjack, roulette, and poker table games have limits for players of all levels. There is an array of slots, plus video poker. Like Norwegian, Oceania accepts Front Money deposits in the same manner.

Casino credit is available with a minimum application amount of $10,000. Oceania has cashless wagering, where you can use your key card. Using this method, however, has daily limits, convenience fees, and exchange rates if not from the U.S.

Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises advertises their casinos as world-class and high stakes. In fact, USA Today voted Princess Cruise Casinos as the “Best Cruise Line for Gamblers”. Although games differ from ship to ship, you can expect reel/video slots along with video poker. Table games offered are blackjack, roulette, craps, Texas Hold’em, Let It Ride, Caribbean Stud, and Three Card Poker.

Princess Cruises also has an exclusive app called PlayCasino, available on the Regal Princess. The PlayCasino app can be accessed on international waters where you enjoy real money gaming and play anywhere on board.

Tournaments are on every cruise, and some ships have an invitation-only for the best competitors. Guests can also join the Princess Players Club which offer special perks dependent upon high-stakes or frequent play. It is important to note that credit cards are not accepted in the casino. An onboard account or you can exchange for chips in form of cash or traveler’s checks. Like other cruise lines, Princess Cruises does offer complimentary gaming lessons for their guests.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Part of the Casino At Seas Reward Program, Regent Seven Seas is a similar experience to Norwegian and Oceania. With its Monte-Carlo style environment, The Casino is Regent’s premiere onboard entertainment. Games include Blackjack, Poker, Roulette, Mini-Craps, video poker, and slots. Front Money is accepted in the same manner as Norwegian and Oceania. Cashless wagering and credit also follow the same stipulations.

Royal Caribbean International Cruises

“Let the Games Begin” is the tagline at Royal Caribbean International Cruises. Players of all levels will enjoy Baccarat, Video Slots, Reel Slots, Craps, Video Poker, Blackjack, Roulette, Ultimate Texas Hold’em, Let It Ride, and Three Card Poker. You can also win big in slots, poker, and blackjack tournaments. Estimated prize pools in these tournaments can range from $50,000 to $100,000. Table games and tournaments vary by ship, however.

There are many exclusive events offered for Club Royale members, but points, perks, and prizes are best reserved for those who use their SeaPass card. Payment can be made in cash, an onboard account, wire transfers, or a pre-approved line of credit. Of course, learn to play sessions are offered.

Seabourn Cruise Line

Seabourn Cruise Line casinos are a little less advertised than most other cruise casinos. Video and reel slots are very popular because of the limited table games. Poker is available on select days. Table games consist of Blackjack and Roulette. Seabourn Cruise Line has their casinos located next to The Club – a lively night lounge with drinks, plunge pools, and an open-air area overlooking the cruise ship’s wake. Payment is accepted via cash, an onboard account, or traveler’s checks. It is important to note that this casino is one of the few where smoking is not permitted anywhere.

Silversea Cruises

Silversea Cruise line is considered a luxury cruise line, but has a very simplistic casino vibe. A luxury cruise on Silversea is focused on quality service and exotic routes. Silversea only offers three table games; Blackjack, Oasis Poker, and Roulette. There are an assortment of slot machines, plus Video Poker.

The casino on Silversea seems to be more of a place of meeting because the casino staff offers tournaments with jackpots, receptions, seminars, and gaming lessons for the high class, business elite guests. For novice players, this cruise line has a Champagne Reception, in which you can enjoy a complimentary drink while learning to play. Cash and cash advances are accepted methods of payment, and smoking is not permitted.

Windstar Cruise

The world’s largest sailing yacht only houses about anywhere between 148-312 guests. The casinos are very small with limited hours. Depending on your yacht, you may be able to play Blackjack, Poker, Roulette, and Video Slots. The largest yacht Wind Surf has three Blackjack tables and one Roulette table. Additionally, there are 30 Video Slots. Wind Star and Wind Spirit have two Blackjack tables and 11 Video Slots. Windstar Cruises has a seperate poker room that features Century Poker and Texas Hold’em on the Wind Surf yacht. This cruise line casino is cash only and smoking is not permitted.

Prices for Casino Cruises

Cruise companies are categorized into three major categories; luxury, premium, and standard. Prices are never static and vary depending on which cruise line you choose to book with, but we will provide you with cruise price basics. Time of year and length of cruise will also determine the actual price of your cruise. There are also many other variables like embarkation ports, accommodations you select or how many cabins you book. Cruise lines always have promotions and third party travel agencies offer plenty of discounts throughout the year as well. You will save more money if you are able to bring a companion along.

Standard cruise lines like Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, or Princess generally average between $400-$1,400 per person, including taxes and fees. Premium cruise lines like Holland America, Oceania, Cunard, or Celebrity average between $800-$2,000 per person, including taxes and fees. Luxury cruise lines like Silversea, Regent Seven Seas, Crystal, or Seabourn average between $1,500-$5,000 per person, including taxes and fees.

Comped Casino Cruises

Cruises are one of most common promos that Las Vegas casinos use for their players because they know it will continue to generate revenue. Vegas casinos try to add more value to your play by continuing cross-marketing techniques. It’s a win-win situation for both the land casino and the partnered business. Some of the most common partnerships are Caesars Palace-Norwegian Cruise Lines and MGM-Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.

For the guest, is really depends on your interest and level of travel. Las Vegas casinos that comp cruises are normally for an inside room, casino card, and drinks. Comped cruises are not entirely “free”. A guest that is comped for a cruise is commonly in charge of taxes, port charges, and upgrades.

Gambling at Sea

Casino cruises travel all across the seven seas. You can pretty much choose a destination to anywhere in the world. Standard cruise lines in the United States typically travel to popular destinations like the Caribbean, Bermuda, Cuba, Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii, or Australia just to name a few. Luxury cruises will travel to any of the seven continents or regions like Asia, South America, the Mediterranean, South Africa, Scandinavia or Northern Europe.

Maritime law states that the laws while gambling at sea are determined by the nation in which the ship is registered to, but there are some unique exceptions to this law. For example, once a ship is docked or is within certain nautical miles of a coastline the ship becomes subject to the laws of that country. More than likely when the ship is docked, the casino onboard will be closed to abide by local laws.

Once you are out to sea, the rule of thumb is usually twelve nautical miles before you can play your first hand. When sailing on the high seas (international waters), again the cruise ship is under jurisdiction of the country it is registered to.