Things to Consider Before Setting Sail on a Casino Cruise

min read
BetMGM Sep 15, 2021, 6:00 AM

Whether you’re someone who spends a lot of time enjoying popular casino games at an online casino or a traditional land-based casino, there’s no doubt that the idea of setting off on a casino cruise sounds extremely appealing. The question is, how can you ensure smooth gaming while sailing? And what exactly can you expect from this type of vacation? Most importantly, what are the most crucial considerations to keep in mind before making your booking? You’ll be sure to find all the answers that you’re looking for below.

Does every cruise ship come with a casino?

No! This is why it’s important to do your research before booking a cruise, especially if gambling is a big part of your vacation agenda. While most of the larger, more popular cruise lines boast ships with impressive casinos on board, it’s not worth assuming this entertainment luxury is a given. 

Instead, it’s a good idea to scope out and book a dedicated casino cruise (where onboard gambling is the main attraction) to be really sure that you’ll get what you’re looking for – and what you’re paying for!

What types of casino games are usually on offer?

This is another important consideration. After all, just because a cruise ship claims to have a casino on board, that doesn’t mean the casino is going to offer the full spectrum of casino games you’re used to when playing online (for instance, how many different online slot machines can you name?). In fact, the majority of onboard casinos mainly feature casino slot games, with many neglecting to offer any casino table games whatsoever, due to them taking up too much space, and requiring croupiers or dealers. Those that do offer table games will usually only assign one table per game, so you’ll often have to wait your turn to play.

Dedicated casino cruises, on the other hand, should offer at least a handful of tables per game for all of the player favorites, such as poker, baccarat, blackjack, and roulette. Of course, if you’re only looking to play one particular type of game, you’ll need to finetune your research to pin down which is the best casino cruise ship to satisfy your desires.

Is gambling on board allowed 24/7, or are there restrictions in place?

Unfortunately, there are various restrictions in place and very few onboard casinos are accessible 24/7. Most will open in the late morning or early afternoon hours, and then close their doors around 2 am. It’s good to note, too, that onboard casinos are forced to remain closed at all times when the ship is docked at a port in a country where gambling is illegal.

What is the legal gambling age on most casino cruises?

This will differ from cruise line to cruise line, but it’s safe to say most cruise companies operate according to a minimum gambling age of 18. Others maintain a higher minimum age of 21, especially when sailing towards certain destinations, such as the Caribbean or Alaska. If you’re between the ages of 18 and 20, it’s definitely recommended to double-check with your chosen cruise line to see whether you’ll be allowed to gamble on board before going ahead and making a booking – especially if it’s a deal-breaker. 

Do you get free drinks on a casino cruise?

A woman’s hand holds a cocktail drink on the deck of a cruise ship.

Many cruisers expect this perk, but it’s rarely the case unless you’re setting sail on a luxury cruise where drinks are always free, regardless of whether you’re in the casino or not. If free drinks are specifically what you’re after, be sure to sign up to take advantage of your chosen cruise line’s casino-specific loyalty program as loyalty points can often be converted into drinks at the bar, if you choose. However, as a word of warning, we strongly recommend you don’t visit the onboard casino if you’re under the influence of alcohol, because it will adversely affect the way you play and how you bet.

Can you smoke in a ship’s casino?

Most people are surprised to discover that smoking is often allowed inside onboard casinos but, of course, it depends on the cruise line in question. The majority of cruise ships, however, have both a smoking and a smoke-free section to cater to all their gamblers’ preferences. Some cruise lines do not allow smoking at all inside the onboard casino, though. If you’d like to be allowed to smoke while you gamble, it’s worth checking with the cruise line to confirm its stance on this before securing your spot. 

Do you need to be vaccinated to go on a casino cruise?

Back in 2020, cruise ships became hotspots for the spread of Covid-19, resulting in more than a year-long hiatus for most cruise lines across the globe. As a result, in an effort to optimize cruisers’ safety and peace of mind, almost all cruise lines are now insisting that their guests are fully vaccinated, and have completed their vaccination program no earlier than 14 days before boarding. As far as face masks go, some cruise lines insist on cruisers wearing them at all times in public spaces, while others allow for mask-free cruising. We recommend you request full details on the ship’s Covid policy from the cruise line during the booking process to avoid any unnecessary surprises.

What method of payment is accepted in onboard casinos?

Check in with your chosen cruise line. The main rule of thumb is that cruisers can choose to gamble using cash or a cruise card. If you’re planning on relying solely on a cruise card, take some time ahead of your trip to set a responsible gambling budget, and then do your best to stick to it. You’ll usually need to load up your cruise card with credit before boarding, but it’s worthwhile to consider bringing a bit of extra cash along too, just in case. Keep in mind that drawing cash at an ATM while on the cruise ship can work out to be quite costly!

Play your favorite casino games from the comfort of your home at BetMGM

Thankfully you don’t have to go to the trouble of booking a casino cruise for the chance to play some games of chance, because at BetMGM you can play your favorite online casino games without even having to leave your couch. Sign up via our mobile portal and you’ll be able to play casino table games, online slots, and much more any time, anywhere, ensuring maximum enjoyment and convenience without any stress or hassles along the way.

Actress Vanessa Hudgens flipping casino chips next to the text "The King of Casinos"
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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.