Cruise Ship Casinos

By Ben Hamill - May 07 2016

Regardless of whether you’re planning out your upcoming cruise vacation with a focus on gambling options or you’d simply like some gaming entertainment as part of your cruise, cruise ships with casinos offer an inviting vacation alternative.

There are a wide range of cruise ships that sail from Canadian harbours and many of them offer some gaming tables. Others are themed casino cruises with dozens —of table games, card games and slot machines.

A cruise with casino gambling activities can be a great vacation choice. It gives you the chance to add an additional activity option to the cruise’s other entertainment choices and allows you to make back some of the money that you’ve spent on your cruise. In addition, taking a cruise in which gambling activities are included can solve the problem of how to satisfy two partners with differing vacation desires — one partner can enjoy casino gaming while the other partner takes part in the cruise’s sports, relaxation, sightseeing and other pursuits.

Some things that you might want to know when you’re planning your cruise.

Do all Ships have Casinos?

Most large cruise ships have onboard casinos and some of the smaller ones do as well. You can check which ships offer casino activities via the cruise line’s website or by calling the line. The Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America does not offer casino facilities and none of the four Disney Cruise ships offer gambling activities. Some of the Crystal line’s passenger ships have gaming tables and you can even find some gambling activities on some expedition ships and river boats.

What Types of Tables or Machines do Cruise Casinos Feature?

All cruise casino ships feature the basic games including table games of roulette, card games such as blackjack and poker and dozens of slot machines. The card game choices include both single-hand and double hand poker and blackjack games as well as games that you play against the dealer or against other players. Royal Caribbean ships and Norwegian Cruise Line ships rely on dealer-dealt tables while Carnival and Princess cruise lines use electronic Poker Pro Tables. Most ships also feature at least one craps and one roulette table. Baccarat is not a popular option on casino cruise ships

Slots players will find a wide range of slot machines on many of the ships including penny slots and slots with higher minimum deposits.

What are the Stakes Like on a Cruise Ship Casino?

Most cruise casino ships keep the stakes to a low-stakes or moderate-stakes level to accommodate the majority of the players. If the players themselves request high stakes games, and if there are enough players to make such a game worthwhile, the casino manager may arrange a high-roller game. But that’s the exception to the rule.

Do Cruise Casino Ships have Tournaments?

Tournaments are common on cruise casino ships. Cruise ship tournaments generally involve blackjack or slots tournaments in which a group of players buy in to the tournament with an opening wager, and then play without the need to add additional bets. Prizes generally include cash payouts. Texas Hold ‘Em winners on the Royal Caribbean line receive tickets to Royal Caribbean’s annual Royal Poker Tournament which is held on a separate cruise. The Royal Poker Tournament involves a guaranteed $100,000 prize.

How does the Money Work on a Casino Cruise?

In general you can use your cruise card and cash. When you play you can either charge teh price of the chips on your cruise card or turn your cash into chips. Slot machines accept cash or your cruise card. Windstar, Regent, Silversea and Oceania lines are cash only. There are ATMs onboard but it’s suggested that you bring your own cash because the withdrawal fees at onboard ATMs are high.

Do Cruise Casino Chips Offer Loyalty Club Points and Other Perks?

Most do, though they separate the casino points and credits from the general cruise line loyalty program. When you play you earn points toward casino rewards — generally free drinks and discounts on future cruises. Rewards earned on one casino cruise don’t always transfer to another cruise, even within the same cruise line.

What Canadian Cruise Casino Options Do I Have?

Some of your options include

  1. The Yankee Lady’s Cruise Casino — The Yankee Lady is a Toronto boat cruise which offers blackjack, roulette, wheel games, Texas Hold ‘Em poker, horse racing, craps and slots. The casino packages are run by professionals. These excursions are privately commissioned as chartered cruises through Yankee Lady, which operates the cruises and the casino activities. Guests receive “funny money” and trade in their payouts for real cash (which has been provided by the host) at the end of the cruise.
  2. The Norwegian Cruise line, with ports in Halifax, Gaspsie Quebec, Quebec City, Saguenay (La Baie) Quebec, St. John/Bay of Fundy New Brunswick and Sydney Nova Scotia offers casino cruises that include almost 200 table games and 2800 slot machines. The reel and video slots range from penny games to games with deposit minimums of $100 while table wagers range from $5 to $5000. There are blackjack, slot and poker tournaments onboard throughout the cruises which sail along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of North America, from the Bahamas in the south to Alaska in the North.
  3. The Royal City Star Casino takes place on an authentic Mississippi riverboat which is docked on the Fraser River at the New Westminster Quay, just outside of Vancouver. The cruise casino (not really a cruise) features a racebook along with blackjack, Caribbean Stud Poker, Mini-Baccarat, Pai Gow Poker, Let it Ride Blackjack and Roulette gaming options. There are no slot machines on the River City Star Casino boat. Patrons can sit down for a 5-star meal at the Fraser’s restaurant or enjoy a drink at one of the ship’s two bars. Two banquet rooms are available for groups that want to host events on the boat.
  4. The Princess Line, whose Canadian port of call is in Quebec City, offers casino activities as part of its cruise activities. The Princess Line casinos feature a large range of slot machines as well as video poker, slots and novelty machines — many of which include progressive jackpots. Other game options at the Princess line cruise casinos include Craps, Roulette, Blackjack, Three-Card Poker Caribbean Stud and Let It Ride Blackjack. Bingo games run constantly throughout the cruise.

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