What Is a Casino Cruise?

13 Mar 2024
Cruises offer lots of variety. It’s one of the reasons why they’re so popular. In fact, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) believed that 32 million people were set to travel on a cruise ship in 2020. Between 2020 and 2025, the passenger-carrying capacity of the ships shall increase by a third. Couples cruises, family cruises, river cruises, ocean cruises and luxury cruises are just a few of the different types of cruise it’s possible to book. One type of cruise in which you might be interested if you like visiting casinos is the casino cruise. In particular, there are quite a lot of options in Florida, but what should you expect when you’re on a casino cruise? 
What is a Casino Cruise © NAN728 -
Casino cruises! Next port of call: Your lucky night! © NAN728 /

Shorter opening hours

Casino cruise ships don’t open their casinos the whole day round, but rather in the evenings until around 2 or 3am. It depends on the cruise line itself. You’d have to check the ship’s schedule. The casino will also only open when the ship is at sea or in port countries that permit gambling.

Traditional casino games

In a lot of casino cruise ships, you can expect to find blackjack and several variations of poker, such as Texas Hold’em, Caribbean Stud and Let It Ride. You may find yourself playing the card games against the dealer, rather than other players. There will be at least one roulette table and, if you’re lucky, you may also be able to play baccarat. Variety is important on cruises, so you’ll also find slots, if you’re not feeling like playing against anyone. Some cruises have electronic poker tables, too, at which the players will sit, but there is no dealer present and the software takes care of the dealing.


It’s common for casinos on cruise ships to hold tournaments. Usually, these will be either blackjack or slots tournaments although some cruises offer poker tournaments. Often, you don’t have to gamble any money, but instead pay a buy-in to enter. Some operators allow the participants to rebuy. The people who rebuy the most tend to win. Often the prize will be money, especially if it’s a Texas Hold’em tournament. This isn’t always the case, however, depending on the operator. Some cruise operators will award a free cruise for two as a prize to the tournament winner. 
What is a Casino Cruise © Michał Parzuchowski / Unsplash
Looks like a great hand, till you see those 3 aces on the table © Michał Parzuchowski / Unsplash

Adults only

On most casino cruises, the minimum age to enter the casino is 18, especially if you’re in the UK. Some operators require you to be 21 years or older to enter the casino on any of their ships. If you’re in the US, the minimum age is 21 years of age to enter the casino. Note that because the casino is on the main thoroughfare on a lot of ships, you will see children in the casinos. They’re not allowed to hang around, though. If you’re not sure exactly what the age requirements are to play in the casino, check with the travel agent or operator.


Most casinos allow you to pay in cash to play. You’ll exchange the cash for chips. It’s rare for casinos on cruise ships to be cash-only, but there are some which are, so it’s best to check with the cruise line first.
If you’re not comfortable carrying lots of cash around with you in the casino, you don’t have to. You can use your cruise card to play, the card itself also serving as your cabin key, and the casino will charge the price of the chips to your card. Cruise cards are often usable on slots as well.


As much as you might enjoy a free drink when you play at a land-based casino, you should expect to pay for your drinks while you play. If you’re on a luxury cruise on which all of the drinks are free, you’re likely to receive free drinks in the casino as well. A pit boss might have the authority to order free drinks, though, so if you happen to get on well enough with them, they might treat you and your friends to a tipple or two. You might also be able to get some free drinks if you’ve signed up for the casino’s loyalty program, but you’ll have to spend a serious amount in the casino before you could expect the rest of your drinks on the house.


Whether it’s okay to smoke depends on the cruise line. Some operators don’t allow passengers to smoke on the ship indoors but will allow them to smoke on the exterior decks and in the casinos. There are also sections of the casino that are non-smoking. If you’re not sure where you can and can’t smoke, however, you should check with the cruise line. Entertainment is the order of the day on a casino cruise. The winning is secondary really, but if visiting casinos is one of your main forms of leisure, then you’ll love this kind of cruise. If you’re lucky enough at the tables, you might even get a second cruise out of the trip.


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