CAN A SERIOUS BLACKJACK PLAYER FIND
By Milton Benjamin
The blackjack conditions in the casinos of the following cruise lines are covered in this report:
Norwegian Cruise Line
Royal Caribbean Cruise Line
Celebrity Cruise Line
Carnival Cruise Line
Not many years ago, casinos on cruise ships were viewed as places to spend a few minutes en route from dinner to the ship's theater. They certainly weren't a place to gamble any meaningful amount of money. Most table games had relatively low betting limits ─ which was just as well, since many of the people dropping by cruise ship casino tables had relatively low gaming skills.
But the casino scene on cruise ships is changing rapidly, driven in part by the huge expansion of casinos that has taken place on land. Cruise lines today offer players clubs, free drinks, onboard comps, and even big cruise discounts. Several cruise lines are actively marketing to high-rollers (and not so high-rollers) willing to spend a few hours a day in their casinos.
But the fact that cruise lines want you to play for higher stakes in their casinos doesn’t necessarily mean it is a great idea – and we are not talking about the fact that cruise ship casinos are not regulated by any independent governmental regulatory. There is no issue, in our view, with the integrity of the games. A much more important consideration is that rules and playing conditions vary widely from one cruise line to another – and are rarely as good as what a smart player can find in Las Vegas.
Despite that caveat, many people regard a bad day at sea as better than a good day on land, and the casinos on some cruise ships are definitely better than others. In this article, we will take a look at the major cruise lines that are reaching out to VIP players – Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Carnival, Princess and Norwegian Cruise Lines – and provide an overview of their players program, and what you are likely to find in casinos on their ships.
Keep in mind, however, that rules and playing conditions on cruise ship casinos change continuously. (We discovered last fall on a Carnival cruise, for example, that dealers had started hitting soft 17 since our previous visit.) And sometimes, playing conditions change between the date you book your cruise and the time you sail. (We boarded a Princess ship a couple of years ago and found that brand new continuous shuffling machines had been installed that very day!)
Here is a rundown of what a serious blackjack player can expect to find in the casinos of the major cruise lines....
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