If your ideal vacation involves sightseeing or sunbathing by day and trying your hand at blackjack, roulette or slots at night, the cruise industry has you covered. Similar to their land-based counterparts, the best cruise ship casinos offer the gamut of gaming options, albeit on a smaller scale, within close proximity to bars, restaurants and your cabin.
The caveat with cruise casinos is they can only open when the vessel is at least 12 miles from the coastline, so it’s not until you sail away from port that the lights, bells and winner-takes-all whoops begin.
To gamble while the sun shines, book a cruise itinerary with several sea days, when the ship’s casino can stay open until the last player collects his winnings (or plays his or her final chip). Here’s a look at some of the best cruise ship casinos by cruise line.
Each of Royal Caribbean’s 26 ships features a lively Casino Royale – offering slots, roulette, craps, poker and blackjack – but the biggest, splashiest and best are onboard vessels introduced over the past decade. Sail on 5,100-passenger Oasis-class ships (Wonder of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas), to experience the largest casinos at sea, each featuring French Riviera-inspired decor and offering more than 450 slot machines and dozens of gaming tables. The 7,600-passenger Icon of the Seas also has a casino that will make you go “wow.”
Norwegian offers more than 2,800 slot machines and 200 gaming tables across its 19-vessel fleet and the biggest and best casinos are onboard its newest ships: Norwegian Prima, Norwegian Encore, Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Breakaway, and coming in 2023, Norwegian Viva. The line also offers a Casinos at Sea program that lets players earn free rewards on Norwegian as well as Regent Sevens Seas and Oceania Cruises.
Carnival has always been big on nightlife – and this extends to the busy casinos onboard its 24 “Fun Ships.” The line’s newest vessels, 5,282-passenger Carnival Celebration and Mardi Gras, are huge ships, with big and lavish casinos to match. Guests who join the Carnival Players Club earn points for free drinks, and spa treatments.
With its 12-vessel main fleet (excluding three smaller Expedition-class ships), Celebrity has focused on sophisticated interior design, and its casinos are no exception. The line’s three newest vessels, 2,918 to 3,260-passenger Edge-class ships (Celebrity Edge, Celebrity Apex and Celebrity Beyond) each have a stylish Fortunes Casino and its Blue Chip Sailings feature blackjack and slots tournaments.
Casinos on the Holland America Line’s 11 mid-sized ships vary from vessel to vessel, but the most appealing by far is onboard the newest ship, 2,650-passenger MS Rotterdam, decorated in surprisingly understated neutral hues with some bling here and there.
The two newest Princess ships, 3,660-passenger Enchanted Princess and Discovery Princess, each have a buzzing Princess Casino centered about a dramatic, chandelier-topped spiral staircase fit for royalty. There are tournaments on every cruise, slots, table games, bingo and more. One of the perks of Princess MedallionClass cruising is that you can play for cash from anywhere onboard with the mobile Ocean Casino.
This premium line’s six ships accommodate just 684 to 1,250 guests, and even the two larger vessels (Marina and Riviera) have casinos with a decidedly more intimate vibe: They feature just six or so gaming tables and three dozen slots. Their seventh ship, the 1,200-passenger Vista, will set sail in April 2023.
Do you enjoy cruise ship casinos? Tell us about your favorites in the comments below.
Plan and book your next cruise vacation with AAA.