Royal Caribbean's Casino Royale logo.

Often described as the financial heart of a cruise ship, if you have ever found yourself donating to the onboard casino under illusions of “taking the house” and quitting your job, you could very well be on the radar of your favourite cruise line for myriad of perks.

Demonstrated expertise at table games like Blackjack, Roulette and Poker can all in you drawing attention to yourself however you probably need to be playing considerably high value hands to attract the pit bosses, who are the ones who ultimately decide who to mention to the casino manager for special treatment.

However if you’re playing the one-button bandits (the pokies) – even for a mere five minutes, inserting your cruise card into the machine first can be the best move you make. This is automated and sends the data straight to the casino manager. The casino manager then reviews your data and can make decisions on when and how to reward you.

Such rewards could include invitations to private societies like Celebrity Cruises “Blue Chip Club” an elite invite-only group of their most dedicated players. Perks include upgrades to your tier status in the Captain’s Club loyalty program, free spa treatments and even the holy grail of perks – free cruises!

Spend big in the casino and rewards such as massages often follow.
Free massages and spa treatments are readily awarded to high spenders in the casino.

Whilst the guide for being accepted to the highly converted Blue Chip Club is a closely guarded secret, sources suggest that the criteria can range from $5 per spin on the pokies to $50 a hand on Blackjack and a minimum of two hours play a night.

Royal Caribbean’s “Club Royale” offers a similar perk-based system, however it sends gift certificates to pay for future reservations with the amount based on your previous play. Royal Caribbean is also tied in with Las Vegas based MGM Casinos, so if you are visiting Sin City on a North American holiday you might just also be eligible for some cruise perks in the middle of the desert!

Carnival and its sister brands including P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises and Holland America Line all operate the “Ocean Players Club” which provide casino services to all of their ships. However, membership of this exclusive club is by invitation, with guests only made aware they have been selected to join the club on their next voyage.

Ocean Players Club offers are similar to those made to Celebrity’s Blue Chip Club guests, however in the ultimate cross-sell, you may be tempted with offers from different brands rather than your usual cruise line in an attempt to entice you to try the whole stable. Guests aboard sister brand Azamara Club Cruises feel the love too with invited guests from the line also enjoying Celebrity Blue Chip Club status and perks.

All casino play including table play aboard cruise ships counts towards some type of perk from free drinks to free cruises
All casino play aboard cruise ships counts towards some type of perk.

If freestyle cruising is your thing, then gaming aboard Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) might deal you a better hand, with the line having the most accessible casino program at sea. NCL makes no secret of its creatively named “Casino at Sea” program. The program features an escalating scale for status, has four tiers starting at “You’re Lucky” offering members entry level perks including priority embarkation and special casino room rates, while upper tier guests can receive unlimited drinks in the casino and credits towards ship-wide beverage packages and dining packages.

Points are also earned on all play which can then be redeemed for credit or services, such as offerings from the day spa and gift shops.

Do you play the onboard casino? Or are you among the chosen few to part take in one of the exclusive casino clubs for high-rollers? Let us know!