Full Decks: The Best Cruise Ship Casinos

When you think of cruise ship holidays, you may bring to mind the hordes of older people lingering around the swimming pool or dithering at the buffet. But actually, cruises are fun-packed, with tons of activities, delicious food, fascinating and iconic destinations, and great entertainment. What could be better than floating from place to place in a grand, luxurious hotel?

And where there are elegance and sophistication, you’ll find casinos. In fact, most cruise ships have casinos that match the luxury and atmosphere of any on dry land. So, if you are heading out on a cruise, or thinking about booking one with the intention of gambling, pack your tuxedo and your lucky charms.

Queen Mary 2

A majestic ship to travel on, the Queen Mary 2 is home to the Empire Casino, a grand, upper-class affair, with all the usual gaming options. But this is the kind of place you’ll want to play baccarat, rather than slot machines (although they are available, of course). A strict dress code, immaculate waiting staff, croupiers with just the right balance of warmth and disdain – it doesn’t get much more glamorous.

Norwegian Escape

Norwegian Cruise Lines started as a rickety ferry line in the mid-1960s, rollicking across the North Sea from Newcastle to Bergen and back. Now it operates luxury liners, chock full of ways to enjoy yourself.

The Norwegian Escape is renowned among the fleet as having one of the best casinos on the seven seas – it is so big it seems like the casino got there first, the boat was just an afterthought. It offers regular tournaments in poker and blackjack, as well as those ever-present slot machines, roulette wheels, and all other card games. Some are surprised at the slightly higher than usual minimum bids at the card tables – $10 minimum at poker for example – but there is something for everyone, including gambling lessons for the uninitiated.

Oasis of the Seas / Allure of the Seas

Royal Caribbean Cruise lines offer some of the most popular cruises in the world, navigating around the beautiful tropics of the West Indies.

Almost all their ships feature casino games, but Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas are the biggest cruise ships in the world, and as such, they have the biggest casinos. Choose between a whopping 450 slot machines in either one, numerous card tables, roulette wheels, and a private poker room for high rollers. If you aren’t ready to bet big money just yet, it might be worth practicing a little online before you set off – at CasinoTopsOnline you can play all manner of casino games to get your poker face ready for the real thing.

Royal Caribbean Cruises’ casinos allow smoking, serve cocktails, and feature live music, to summon that classic casino atmosphere.

Celebrity Cruises

Although this line is owned by Royal Caribbean, the atmosphere in the casinos on board is decidedly different. Taking in such varied destinations as the Caribbean, Hawaii, Ireland, Alaska,  Scandinavia, and Russia, there is a great variety of stunning land and seascapes to look at in-between visits to the casinos.

Unlike the Royal Caribbean casinos, the ones on Celebrity are non-smoking and offer a large range of slots as well as blackjack, baccarat, and poker tournaments. Bets at the card tables start at $5, so you don’t need to break the bank to get going.

Gambling on cruise ships

Casinos on cruise ships are not open 24/7. Legally, they can be opened out at sea, but when in port they are governed by the country in which they are docked. They are often closed during the day to encourage passengers to take part in the wide variety of other activities on offer. Most cruises allow players from the age of 18 to gamble, but some have a higher limit of 21 – check before you embark.

Cruise ships offer a luxurious and opulent way to enjoy travel. And why not try to win yourself some money, and soak in the atmosphere of a classic casino while you’re onboard?