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They vary in size and style and are strategically based where passengers frequent
by Jack and Toni White (Jan. 29, 2002)
Bingo and Slot Machines
In the early days of cruising, when passengers were facetiously referred to as "newly wed or nearly dead," gaming was limited to bingo and a few slot machines.
Then, the enormous entertainment, and income producing, potential of gaming became apparent to the industry. Programs to attract "high rollers" from land-based casinos were initiated.
Since many passengers are new to cruising and gaming, most casinos now offer introductory, free sessions on the first day at sea.
Professional dealers review the rules, etiquette and offer tips for winning.
Casinos, centrally located where passengers frequent, vary in size and style. All remain closed while in port.
Intimate, Sophisticated Gambling Venues
A spokesperson for exclusive Silverseas, a cruise line with panache, says their casinos strive for "European elegance." The recently launched Silversea Whisper's petite casino is completely separate from other public areas.
Up-scale Radisson Seven Seas and Seabourne Cruise Lines offer passengers intimate, sophisticated gambling venues. Trendy Windstar's 148-passenger, four-misted ships' cozy casinos have only four slots and one blackjack table.
Their, 308-passenger, Wind Surf's casino has been enlarged to accommodate passengers who requested more gambling. The liner now has 21 slots, one roulette table, three blackjack tables, and one Caribbean poker table.
First European Cruises - Festival Cruises in Europe, is the essence of European cruising. The fleet now includes five ships, plus another in construction. Karen Kopta, who handles public relations for the line, says, "gaming is not as significant on ships that cater to primarily European passengers." Americans make up only 20 percent of the the fleet's passenger list. However, a variety of gaming is available to entice passengers to the intimate, casino space.
Costa Cruise Line is the leading Italian and European cruise group in the rapidly growing European market.
The line sails a modern fleet of eight ships, with a capacity of 10,6000 guests. Costa, which is actually part of the Carnival Corporation, has recently purchased the S.S. Westerdam, called "the jewel of Holland America."
The Carnival Tropicale has been renovated as an addition to the Costa group. The new Atlantica received excellent critical reviews, and new ships are on order. Costa's shimmering casinos beckon travelers from the many other amusements these luxury ships offer while offering a marvelous variety of itineraries.
The American Companies
Celebrity, Orient, and Norwegian Cruise Lines ships present a greater variety of machines and tables, including dice, baccarat, video poker, and keno.
Holland-America's fleet has a full complement of games operated by Carnival Corp.
The near 3000-passenger behemoths Royal Caribbean International's Voyager, Carnival Destiny, and the recently launched Golden Princess offer Las Vegas style glitz and excitement in their huge casinos.
Caesars Palace at Sea
Opulent Crystal Cruise Line's Crystal Harmony and Crystal Symphony casinos are operated as Caesars Palace at Sea by legendary Caesars Palace of Las Vegas which will operate the casino in their new ship now under construction.
They are the only shipboard casinos affiliated with a famed gaming establishment.
Julie Davis, a public relations representative of Cunard says, "Passengers on the famed QE2 don't necessarily book a cruise solely for gambling, but do enjoy gambling as a bonus highlight." Carnival Cruise Line's Paradise, an entirely non-smoking ship, appeals to modern, health conscious vacationers.
As non-smokers, and infrequent gamblers, we enjoyed playing the slots in a smoke-free casino.
Carnival's massive Victory's South China Seas casino, while exotic and intriguing, is smoke filled when crowded with gamblers.
World Explorer's Universe often sails with students, as a universe at sea. An enormous library substitutes for a casino. The Delta Queen Steamboat Co. sails a paddle wheeler on the Mississippi River but is not permitted a casino in American waters.
Disney ships project a family image and have chosen to eliminate casinos.
The recently launched Norwegian Star, minus a casino, will cruise the Hawaiian Islands where shipboard gambling on ships is banned.
Carnival Victory (By Jack White)
Vision of The Seas
Golden Princess (By Jack White)
Amsterdam (By Jack White)