I love cruises. They’re one of my favorite ways to vacation, but I would never take a cruise for the sole purpose of gambling.

I’ll warn you guys and gals right now…the casinos onboard the cruise lines suck. Im not talking about the casinos on gambling barges, which can be a great deal. I’m specifically fingering the gambling on the cruise line casinos. I’ve already discussed why they’re usually bad deals here.

Those cruise line casinos are so bad, that if you are offered a comped cruise for the purpose of gambling, run the other way.

You can be certain that if a host is pushing a cruise for the purpose of gambling, especially a group cruise, that host is going to make a fat paycheck off of you.

I’m about to show you visual proof why they’re bad, not just for your wallet, but just terrible overall (hint: they can drive nice people crazy).


There’s a big difference between going on a cruise ship for gambling and going to a crappy neighborhood casino, even if both  offer the exact same tight slots and crappy odds on their game.

At your crappy neighborhood casino, you can walk away or you can go to another casino that might offer better odds and payouts.

Or you can just get away and do whatever you do to get your mind off a bad night at the slots or tables…like go bowling or go for a drive.

On a cruise, you’re stuck on the ship and the casino is usually at the center of the all the locations and activities. You’re a captured audience member, and unless you stick to your half of the ship, you’re going to pass by the casino again.  If you want to play again – and hopefully extract some revenge and some win money back – the only way to take another chance is to go back to the exact same casino.

The problem with going back to the exact same casino is that psychologically, it’s going to be tougher to dial down your betting. If you’ve been playing…oh, let’s say…Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em at Land Casino A, you can go over to Land Casino B and get your mind off the beating you took at Casino A. If you stick to Casino A, there’s a good chance you’ll be more tempted to ramp up your bet.

People also tend to mistakenly believe that if they’ve been losing at Casino A, that Casino A will be ‘due to give back some money’, whereas Casino B is not ‘due’, and thus bet more at Casino A. This belief is a myth no supported in reality.

A change of scenery is good, but you don’t have that option on a cruise ship.

That’s why playing a $10 craps game with 3x,4x,5x odds on a cruise ship is way worse than the same $10 3x,4x,5x on the Vegas strip.

Mix in the horrible pay tables, and you will eventually regret it – big time – especially if you can’t control yourself.


So what happens when friendly cruise ship passengers end up playing in the same casino, at the same table, sitting in the same chair, without doing all the fun stuff that people do on cruises?

They can become sea monsters…

Note that they’re playing Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em…with the stingy payable.


You would think that with the captured audience and the crappy odds and rules, the onboard casino would be very generous with their comps.


Don’t take my word for it. Hear it from the horse’s host’s mouth…

Spoiler: based the points I accrued, I would have to play for about 93 hours to earn a free drink.

I was averaging about $40 in total action, which was way more than the minimum bet.

Bottom line: if you’re a smart gambler, they don’t want you. That’s why a lot of independent hosts who pitch cruise ships will tell you that on the second or subsequent trip, your comps will be much better. That’s not a lie if they don’t invite you back for a second cruise.


The craps videos that you saw on Navigator of the Seas is really the best chance you have at having some fun, while maximizing your probability of winning.

The strategy is

  • Use discipline
  • Stick to minimum bets
  • Do not make side bets
  • Bet enough to have fun, but be mindful of you minimum ‘fun’ threshold.
    • Ideally, the best strategy would have been to eliminate my 6 and 8 place bets entirely, but...
    • I'm not betting a lone pass line with single odds the entire time time because that would be too boring

Seriously, do not go for the big win. Just play to have some fun and play conservatively.

Based on what I saw and the conversations I had with some of the players I met at the pool, I'm pretty sure that I was the only winner at the craps table for our entire cruise. Everybody lost.


I love cruises. I'm not telling you to avoid cruises. I take one or two every year.

Ideally, you should go on a cruise because you want to do the things that people do while on a cruise, such as lounge around the pool, drink frilly drinks, eating copious amounts of food, smell the ocean air, sample a little bit of a foreign culture in a controlled and 'Disney-fied' setting, forget your worries, or see cheesy shows (some of which are quite good).

Heck, a nightly stop in the shipboard casino is great after a day of excursions.

Just don't go on a cruise for the express purpose of gambling. Eventually, you will regret it. Sure, you might get really lucky once - maybe even twice - but eventually, you'll come to wish you hadn't jumped on that boat because there are much better gambling deals elsewhere.

Having said what I just said, if cruising and gambling is something you and your spouse or partner do on a regular basis, or if you just enjoy gambling and love the cruising lifestyle, then sure, do it. It's your money, after all.

I'm not telling you what to do. I'm just here to warn you and make you aware of what you're getting into.

No matter what you do, I wish you clear skies and calm waters.


Posted in: Craps, Gambling, Travel

0 thoughts on “Closing Out Cruise Week: Cruise Ship Casinos Suck, and Here’s Why (with Video Proof)

  • Thank you for educating your viewers about cruise ship gambling. The sad thing is that probably the people making all the noise can’t afford to lose the money in the first place. I have a friend who between herself and her husband won $15,000 playing 3 Card Poker on a cruise several years ago. I see now that they just hit a very lucky streak. I was thinking of going on a cruise with gambling in mind, but now that I’m educated I think I’ll pick one for the fun of all the other things you pointed out. Many thanks.

    • Thanks for the kind words, Chas Lee.

      Again, just to be sure, so that no one misunderstands me, I think cruising is awesome. I’m not knocking cruising.

      I think cruising, doing cruise stuff, and gambling is even more fun.

      Done that way, the focus is on the cruising and not on the gambling, and the side result might be something sweet, like a $15,000 jackpot!

      I just think it’s a bad idea to go on a cruise for the sole purpose of gambling

      • That is good advice and very clear. Your website and blogs have really helped me look at the times I’ve gone off the rails. I’ve learned that gambling is even more fun when I don’t have to ask myself, “why in the $%^&#$% did I do that” when leaving the table.

    • Darrell, this question made me go lol.

      Everyone already knows about rum runners. I’ll say that much.

      For those who don’t know, bringing your own alcohol on a cruise is not illegal, but casinos will confiscate it and hold your alcohol until the end of the cruise, if you try to bring it onboard.

      Alcohol is a major source of revenue for the cruise ship.

      I’m hesitant to talk about this issue beyond the commonly known rum runners because I believe in paying a business the agreed upon value for the services and good rendered.

      If we abused the businesses, then those pleasures that we enjoy would cease to exist.

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