Gambling while floating on water is a cultural pastime that dates back to the 1850s, when riverboat gambling first became popular along the banks of the Mississippi River in the US. But this pastime has come a long way since the paddle steamers welcomed their first punters on board. Today’s cruise ships offer a luxury resort experience, and are equipped with everything from restaurants and bars, to swimming pools, gyms, theatres, shops, and, of course, casinos.
The casinos on luxury cruise ships are, undoubtedly, a popular form of entertainment, and many people go on these cruises purely for the five-star gambling experience. Some rival land-based casinos in every way possible, including size! These sophisticated casinos offer a wide array of casino games – from slot machines to table games such as poker and blackjack.
If your idea of the perfect vacation includes lounging at the pool with an ocean view, eating at the finest restaurants and playing roulette games, you’ll want to continue reading as we discover the ultimate casino cruises around the world.
1. Allure of the Seas
Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas is the second-largest cruise ship in the world. At 1,188ft (362m) long and a gross tonnage of 225,000, the ship cost an incredible $1.2 billion (around £867,000) to construct and can carry up to 5,400 passengers. Each of the 25 cruise ships in Royal Caribbean’s fleet has a casino, aptly named Casino Royale, after the James Bond book and films. With its French Riviera decor and lavish offerings, guests will feel as if they’ve stepped right into the millionaire’s playground, Monte Carlo.
The Casino Royale in Allure of the Seas is an impressive 18,000sq ft, which is larger than many land-based casinos. With 500 slot machines (including classic favourites like Wheel of Fortune and Triple Diamond) and 27 table games, as well as scheduled events and poker tournaments, guests have no shortage of entertainment at their disposal.
Other onboard options for entertainment include famous broadway shows such as Cats, We Will Rock You, and Mamma Mia, as well as an Aqua Theatre for Cirque Du Soleil-like performances, world-class dining, adventure activities including wall climbing, zip-lining and a water park, and incredible music and dance experiences. Named the Best Large Cruise Ship, Best for Entertainment, and Best Individual Ship, Allure of the Seas is sure to please.
2. Norwegian Escape
Based in Miami, Florida, the Norwegian Escape takes up to 4,266 guests on an adventure through the crystal-clear waters of the Bahamas and the Caribbean. Norwegian Cruise Line boasts a fleet of 15 ships, the largest and most glamorous among them being the aforementioned Norwegian Escape, as well as the Norwegian Getaway, and Norwegian Breakaway. Across the whole fleet, there are a total of 200 casino game tables and 2,800 slot machines. Norwegian Bliss, which set sail in 2018, has not one, but two casinos – one for smokers, and one for non-smokers.
Going back to the Norwegian Escape, this ship has more than 15 restaurants for guests to indulge in, 14 bars and lounges, a comedy club, spas, an aqua park, fitness centre, a quarter-mile promenade, and much more. The casino on board features 318 slot machines and 28 game tables that offer all the classics and more. Betting ranges from 1 cent to $100 (£72) on the slot machines, and from $5 to $5,000 on the tables.
High-rollers can take the stakes up a notch by visiting the VIP room, which hosts three tables that are used to meet guests’ preferences and offer high-limit betting.
3. Queen Mary 2
Queen Mary 2 is the flagship of the Cunard cruise line and is known for its style, elegance and regal excellence. This ship offers routes throughout the US and Europe, and is the perfect choice for gamblers with an appreciation of high standards and opulence, as well as being popular with celebrities – from politicians such as George W Bush and Tony Blair, to comedian John Cleese and actress Meryl Streep.
The casino on board, called The Empire, provides an intimate and sophisticated gambling experience and has 99 slot machines and 12 gaming tables for guests to enjoy. Betting limits go up to around $500 (£362), and lessons are available to beginners.
When they’re not gambling, guests can take a yoga or dance class, relax in the library, explore the first at-sea planetarium, and delight in Queen Mary 2’s signature afternoon tea. There is also an elegantly crafted ballroom, a number of extravagant restaurants and bars, and much more on this famous ship, which is one of the world’s largest ocean liners.
4. Sunborn Gibraltar
Docked in the Ocean Village Marina in Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory bordering Spain is the Sunborn Gibraltar – a superyacht hotel and casino that hosts a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Known as the world’s first five-star floating yacht hotel, Sunborn Gibraltar offers breathtaking views, immaculate services, and a noteworthy casino.
Speaking of the casino, it’s home to 58 slot machines, three live poker tables, three American Roulette tables, and four card tables, as well as sports betting terminals. There is a private poker room for tournaments, plus a table-side service helps to keep guests focused on their game and comfortable at all times.
The yacht itself provides all the comforts of a luxury hotel, and the rooms are light and spacious. Guests can enjoy the spa, fitness centre, and a number of sumptuous restaurants, bars and lounges on board. While online casino sites may be fun, this alternative gambling opportunity is definitely worth leaving the house (and shore) for.
5. Carnival Vista
For those with a taste for nightlife and adventure, Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Vista has everything you need. With a capacity of 3,900 passengers, it’s the largest of the fleet’s 25 “fun ships”. Carnival’s cruises are unique in their rewards scheme, the Carnival Players Club, which offers bonuses and promotions to guests who frequent any of the cruise ships and the casinos on board.
This “fun ship” boasts a wide and unique range of entertainment, including a water park, IMAX theatre, arcade, adventure activities, wine tasting, karaoke, dance classes and much more. It even has a pizza-delivery service! If “fun” is the name, then Carnival Vista is sure to have the game.
Another attractive feature is the sizeable casino on board, which has 217 slot machines and 22 game tables. Across all Carnival cruises, guests spin the reels 112 times every second, and the company pays out around $1 million (£723k) in tournament prizes each year. The casino caters for both beginners – by offering game lessons – and seasoned punters, who are drawn to the high-stakes games it hosts.
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/ 29 September 2021