How Cruise Casinos Differ from Traditional Casinos

Everyone should experience a cruise vacation at least once in their life. There’s lots of excellent foot and fun activities. One favorite source of entertainment is the cruise line’s on-ship casino. It’s nearly impossible for most people to resist the temptation to check the casino out for at least an hour or two. After all, how much time can a captive audience spend at the buffet or in the pool.

Before visiting the cruise ship’s casino, some level of caution is warranted. There are differences from what someone might have already experienced in a land-based traditional casino in places like Las Vegas. The following information is being provided to help people understand the differences and how it might affect the live casino gambling experience. Some of these differences would also pertain to an online casino like Casumo.


On the positive, cruise ship casinos have windows that expose the outside. Vegas style casinos are notorious from trying to keep customers from having any sense of place and time. Cruise ships already have a captive audience with no other gambling alternatives. Therefore, there really is no good reason to “keep people in the dark.”

On the negative, bettors best not expect any kind of free drink service life you find in land-based casinos. Alcohol sales are a primary income source for the cruise lines. They simply are not motivated to give away that which makes them profitable. They aren’t in the casino business. They are in the business of generating revenues from selling spirits and souvenirs. Note: There are some exceptions. Additionally, ocean-bound ships do not operate under land-based laws. Maritime laws permit smoking anywhere. Therefore, there’s a reasonable expectation the cruise ship casino might be a little smoky.

Logistical Issues

Unlike land-based casinos in major gambling meccas like Macau, Las Vegas and Atlantic City, cruise ship casinos have restricted hours of operation. Gambling cities operate 24/7/365 with no regard for the weather, religious holidays or time of day. Cruise ships are not allowed to operate while in a port. This most likely has to do with local regulations. They are also closed for a prescribed timeframe upon departure from any given port. Usually, they open late morning or early afternoon and remain open until the early morning hours of the following morning.

Cruise Compete

Table game players had best be patient. There’s usually a limited number of gaming tables and dealers available. If the casino is busy, players have to wait until a spot opens up. While they are waiting, there’s usually a lot of slot machines available for play. Land-based casinos can employ more dealers and have more space to allocate for table games.

The good news is no matter which port a ship leaves out of, maritime law dictates that the universal minimum gambling age is 18 years old. The minimum age in Las Vegas is 21 years old.

Gambling Issues

On the positive side, most cruise ships offer a nice variety of games. Aside from the requisite video slots, video poker, Blackjack, Baccarat, Craps and Roulette options, it’s always possible games like Pai Gow Poker, Texas Hold’em Poker and Sic Bo might be available. What makes all these gaming options all the more appealing is the fact the come with low betting limits. Remember, the ship is not really in the casino business. The casino is more a means to an end. For that reason, they prefer to make sure the casino is available to novice bettors who might otherwise be reluctant to wager on high limit tables. In some cases, it’s possible to find cruise ship games that are normally difficult to find in Vegas or Macau.

On the downside, cruise ships are not very generous. They have no competition, which is the perfect reason not to offer bettors fair payouts. Blackjack and Craps have notoriously bad odds when compared to the odds being offered in online casinos casinos or when playing at land based establishments. When patrons do when, they are going to have to wait in line to cash out. Players aren’t going to get access to modern-day voucher-drive cash out machines.

By taking advance notice of these differences, you should be able to avoid going into the cruise ship casino with inflated expectations. The whole point is to use the cruise ship casino as intended, just another form of on-ship entertainment.

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John Shallo
John Shallo
John Shallo is the founder and editor of Cruise Addicts. Since 1999 it has been a leading destination for cruise travelers and self professed Cruise Addicts looking for the latest news, ship reviews and travel tips.

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