Allure of the Seas cruise ship

Casinos can be found on almost all of the major cruise ships in America or Europe, and for good reason. According to a study from Cruise Market Watch, nearly half of the onboard spending comes from the casino floor.

This leaves cruise lines with every incentive to make their casino bigger and better. So, without further ado, here are the seven best cruise ship casinos out there right now.

1. Allure of the Seas: 18,000 square feet

Image credit: Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean is one of the world’s best cruise lines, with casinos operating on all seven seas. Their Oasis class ships were some of the biggest cruise ships on the ocean until the last few years. The Allure had her maiden voyage in 2010 and can comfortably handle 5,400 guests.

She has two dozen restaurants, 15 bars and lounges, and many other amenities, like rock climbing, an outdoor movie theater, minigolf, and a beautiful theater. Also, check out the zipline, the Aqua Theater, and their version of Central Park on a ship.

The casino on the Allure is currently the biggest on any cruise ship, coming in at 18,000 square feet. For comparison, a good-sized Las Vegas property might only be 100,000 square feet. However, the biggest casino in the world, the Winstar in Thackerville, Oklahoma, comes in at 600,000 square feet.

They have 27 table games, including fan favorites like blackjack, craps, roulette, and baccarat, as well as some of the carnival games like Three Card Poker, Mississippi Stud, and similar games. The slot total is 456, with all the usual hits like Buffalo, Buffalo Stampede, and 88 Fortunes.

They have a small non-smoking casino on Deck 4 with a few tables and several dozen slots if you need to be away from the smoke of the main casino. Overall, it’s the best cruise casino today.

2. Oasis of the Seas: 15,000 square feet

Image credit: Royal Caribbean

A fun fact: while the Oasis was built to the exact same specifications as her Sister ship, Allure of the Seas, the Oasis is 2 inches shorter in length. That being said, this Royal Caribbean flagship of the Oasis Class is a beauty. Her maiden voyage was in 2009.

Unlike her sister ship, Oasis had extensive renovations in 2019, so she has some newer amenities like an eleven-story slide and a waterpark. She also has several newer restaurant concepts that were not found on the Allure.

The Oasis lost some casino space during the remodel, but still has 15k gaming square footage, including 24 tables and 464 slot machines. The no-smoking casino has three tables and 46 slot machines to choose from. This is a good option if looking for the best slots on cruise ships.

3. Norwegian Epic: 13,000 square feet

Norwegian Epic cruise ship
Image credit: Norwegian Cruise Line

The Epic was launched in 2010 and was planned to have two sister ships in the same Epic class, but the deal fell through, so Epic became the only Epic class ship in the Norwegian fleet. She can hold about 5,300 guests and is 19 decks tall.

There are 15 restaurants onboard, as well as a dozen bars and lounges and the usual amenities, like water slides and rock climbing walls, as well as two pool areas and the Broadway-type Theaters that Norwegian is known for.

The Norwegian Epic once had one of the largest casinos on a cruise ship anywhere. However, after her remodel in 2020, she returned with a still respectable 348 slot machines and 28 tables over about 13,000 square feet.

You can find about any table game you wish to play, as well as every hot new slot you’ve been dying to try. While some other Norwegian casinos have poor reviews for ventilation, the sheer size of the Epic casino helps with the irritating cigarette smoke.

4. Symphony of the Seas: 12,000 square feet

Symphony of the Seas cruise ship
Image credit: Royal Caribbean

As one of the best cruise lines with casinos, it’s no surprise to see Royal Caribbean make the list again.

Royal Caribbean has five ships in the Oasis Class, and they span almost a decade of shipbuilding. The Symphony of the Seas was launched in 2018. While generally adhering to the Oasis model, she has upgraded staterooms and amenities that more closely match those of Oasis of the Seas after her remodel, than those of the Allure of the Seas, eight years her senior.

The casino on Symphony has also been somewhat reduced in size, down to about 12,000 square feet. But it seems similar in size to the one on Oasis and has almost the same number of tables (24) and slots (452). So we’re still happy to consider it as one of the best cruises with casinos.

5. Sun Princess: 9,000 square feet

Sun Princess cruise ship
Image credit: Princess Cruises

One of the best casino cruise ships is also the newest. Princess Cruise Lines Sphere class of cruise ships kicked off their maiden voyage in late February 2024 with the Sun Princess.

She has a capacity of 4,300 guests in a double stateroom, and if the name sounds a little familiar, it’s because she is named after the iconic Princess Line boat from the television show “Love Boat.”

The Princess has state-of-the-art cabins, and the usual zip lines and rock climbing. The dining room encompasses three full stories and looks over the ship’s stern, promising grandiose views. The Piazza is a glass sphere, which inspired this class’s name. It functions as the ship’s atrium and features several cafes and bars with views along the ship’s interior from its multi-floor perch.

The casino comes in at 9,000 square feet with 17 table games and 227 slots. They’re not getting the memo about scaled-back casino space; it’s the largest they’ve ever built.

Three great additions are table games linked progressives on blackjack and various poker games. A Buffalo Zone, often found in land-based casinos, is just a dedicated space for many Buffalo slot machines with cool signage. A new high-limit slot area will feature enhanced luxury seating for those long hours at the machines.

To be in with a chance of winning an all-expenses paid trip on this cruise ship, check out this casino cruise tester competition.

6. Norwegian Escape: 8,000 square feet

Norwegian Escape cruise ship
Image credit: Norwegian Cruise Line

The Escape is a Breakaway Plus class ship. It was launched in 2015 and can comfortably carry just over 4,000 guests. Norwegian is known for its best-in-class Broadway-quality shows and entertainment and its relaxed approach to cruising. There are no formal dinner nights here.

The Escape has over two dozen dining options and 15 bars, as well as the de rigueur Aqua Park, rope climbing, rock climbing, and mini golf. There are two pool areas and a huge spa as well as a fitness area.

The casino covers about 8,000 square feet but squeezes in 23 tables and 318 slots. They have many poker variants like Three Card Poker, Pai Gow, and Ultimate Texas Hold’em, as well as the staples of craps, blackjack, and roulette. The machines are newer and feature most of the same titles that you would find in a modern Las Vegas casino.

7. Carnival Celebration: 5,000 square feet

The Carnival Celebration is one of Carnival’s Excel Class ships. Launched in 2022, she can comfortably hold just over 5,300 guests and spends much of her time in the Caribbean on six- and eight-day cruises.

They have 24 restaurants, and if, for some inexplicable reason, you’re a huge Guy Fierro fan, they feature his Barbeque Smoke House concept, along with his Guy’s Burger Joint. There are 15 bars and lounges, none of which have any Guy-inspired cocktails that we are aware of, and the usual movie theater, climbing wall, and splash pad-type amenities.

What separates the Celebration from the competition is Bolt, its 800-foot-long, 40 mph rollercoaster on the top deck. This has upped the ante regarding onboard sports deck amenities and, at least on paper, looks a lot more entertaining than another rock-climbing wall.

While smaller than some of our other entries, it covers almost 5,000 square feet of space, has 15 tables, and has slightly more than 200 slot machines. It was voted Best Cruise Ship Casino in a reader’s choice poll in Newsweek in 2023.

FAQs About Cruise Ship Casinos

Are Cruise Ships Rigged?

As multi-billion dollar companies with millions of customers yearly, it simply doesn’t make economic sense to “rig” games.

That being said, there are no gaming commissions on the high seas that you can raise a dispute with, or that have mandated a minimum Return To Player percentage for slot machines.

Many believe that while most slots in the USA are set close to a 90% Return to Player, those in cruise ship casinos are set at closer to 80%, but there is no hard proof of that.

Do You Pay Taxes on Cruise Ship Winnings?

If you are a US Citizen and you win a slot jackpot in the waters off Mombasa or Monte Video or anywhere else in the world, the US government will want their piece of it, and you must pay federal taxes. Any jackpot over 1,200 will trigger the dreaded W2G and 24% withholding on major cruise lines. Technically, all winnings should be reported on a 1040.

If you are a UK citizen, there doesn’t seem to be the same tax burden, though please consult a tax professional should the need arise.

Do All Cruise Ships Have Casinos?

Nope. Even some of the major companies, like Norwegian, have boats that lack casinos, though usually with good reasons. For instance, their Pride Of America never leaves Hawaiian waters, so they would never be in a position to open the casino. Check the casino status before you book, though the vast majority will have them due to their significant revenue contribution.

Are Cruise Ship Casinos Regulated?

Most would be regulated by the country they are registered in, such as the Bahamas. Many have signed agreements and regulations with the CLIA (the Cruise Line International Association) – an industry trade group that provides some rules and oversight – but market forces do most regulation.

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