Odds & Payouts: Cruise Ship Gambling
(Note: The specifics here apply to Royal Caribbean’s Voyager-Class ship casino, called Casino Royale. However, they generally hold true for all Galveston cruises.)
It’s the most exciting — and most expensive — place on a cruise ship. And every sailing from Galveston has one.
You’re going to pass through the casino on your trip, whether you’re a gambler or not. Cruise lines aren’t dumb. They carefully place casinos in area where you have to walk through them to get to the other side of the ship.
And if you are a gambler, then you’re no doubt going to spend some time (and money) here.
Cruise Casino Overview:
As we said, the casino is centrally located to get the most “walk-through” on the ship. It has a look and feel of a traditional Vegas-style casino, with bold colors, lots of flashing lights and ringing bells, and a somewhat confusing layout to keep you “trapped.”
In fact, the only real difference that you will notice is size. Ship casinos are noticeably smaller than their land-based brethren.
Still, cruise lines have things figured out. The casino doesn’t feel claustrophobic, and is the perfect size to be buzzing on a typical night without feeling too crowded.
Cruise Casino Games:
You will find every game you’re used to seeing in a land-based casino. There are dozens of video poker stations, slot machines (we saw penny slots up to dollar slots), roulette, craps, blackjack, and others.
There were also some games that we’ve never seen in a casino. One was a “coin-push” game where you drop a quarter in front of a moving bar, hoping to push other coins (and cash) off the table. We’ve seen these at carnivals using tokens, but never at a casino with actual coins.
There was also an arcade game where you line up a “key” to push down a prize. We’ve seen these with prizes like stuffed animals before, but never actual cash.
In total, the casino has a nice selection of games. We estimate there were 20 video poker stations, each with a variety of games ranging from Jacks or Better to Double Bonus Poker.
Slot machines ranged from penny to dollar slots, and had many of your favorite names, including Cleopatra, Kitty Glitter, and Double Diamond. There were also lots of newer video slots that feature more interactivity and fun bonus games.
Table games were also represented well for a cruise ship. There is one craps table, several blackjack tables, roulette, and other games like Caribbean stud and three-card poker.
The casino also has a Texas Hold ‘Em table, however, it is electronic instead of having a traditional dealer. We never saw anyone playing here.
Odds & Payouts:
Slot Machines: Slot machines were tight to say the least. We played primarily on the penny slots. Our experience was that we would hit long stretches of no wins at all… or wins that didn’t amount to our initial bet.
We did hit several bonus rounds, but only one of significant value. It seemed to us that these came late in our play, after we were already down significantly. After years of gambling, we expect slot machines (especially penny slots) to be tight. These felt even tighter than normal.
Video Poker: We are Jacks or Better players. Payouts are the worst we’ve ever seen. On $0.25 machines, they have a 6/5 payout. Making up for some of that was that the royal flush payout was progressive. It seemed to hover around $1,250 for our cruise.
We did see $1 video poker with a 7/5 payout.
Blackjack: Blackjack pays 6:5 on board the ship and dealers must hit on soft 17. The good news is that if you want action on these bad rules, we saw $5 table minimums the entire cruise.
Roulette: Roulette was the “double-zero” variety you would find in Las Vegas. We saw minimums of just $1 on our cruise. If you’re looking to just hang out in the casino, this may be the best value on the ship.
Craps: We loved that craps had a $5 minimum, which is difficult to find in most casinos. However, craps are just single odds. That’s stingy by even Las Vegas Strip standards. If you hit a “12″ on a field bet, it only pays double, not triple.
Cruise Casino FAQ:
- You won’t find waitresses offering free drinks. You have to pay for them.
- All payouts (including tickets from slot machines) are done at the cashier window. There isn’t a redemption machine.
- There are slot, blackjack, and poker tournaments run throughout the entire cruise. They usually cost $20-30 to enter.
- Dealers are particularly friendly and accommodating for new players. If you’ve wanted to try a new game, a cruise is the place to do it.
More Cruise Casino Photos
(Note: All these photos come from Mariner of the Seas)