More "Free Money" on Ships

To be blunt, I like to gamble. I like Las Vegas, and I love the casinos aboard cruise ships. I'm not a true "High Roller" in the "Vegas" sense of the phrase, but I did get lucky there a few years ago. Once I reached the point of playing "their money," I got braver and my bets got higher, and I earned some of the perks that Vegas is known for. At the end of that trip the casino's marketing department picked up the tab for my hotel room and meals, and of course invited me back for the opportunity to give them their money back.

Similar to Las Vegas casinos, Carnival Corp. now has the "Club" program in place for "high rollers" to earn perks for gambling onboard all of the ships under the Carnival umbrella, including Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America, Windstar Cruises, Seabourn Cruise Lines, Cunard Line and Costa Crociere.



Points earned on one ship are transferrable to all other ships in the Club.

There is no membership fee.

You can sign up for the Ocean Player's Club on your cruise at the casino cashier's cage, or you can sign up in advance of your cruise by calling 1-800-253-2773.

You must maintain an average bet of $25 during your cruise and play at least two hours a day.

The program covers play on the table games, Blackjack, Stud Poker, Let It Ride, Craps, and Roulette.

As a member you'll receive special privileges and valuable cash-back points. On future cruises you may use these points toward casino chips and/or onboard purchases.

You'll also get a members-only newsletter, free gifts and discounts on special cruises.

A member can earn up to 150% of the price paid for that particular cruise (cruise only)


Your average bet is multiplied by the hours you play, multiplied by the decimal factors of each particular game. For average bets of $25 to $100, the decimal factors are: .21 for Blackjack .525 for Stud Poker and Let It Ride .147 for Craps.920 for RouletteThe decimal factors increase for average bets over $100.

While on our cruise aboard Carnival Triumph I joined the Ocean Player's Club. Before I sat down at the Blackjack table, I pondered whether the Canadian Revenue Service (IRS in US) would let me deduct my losses as a business loss incurred by a journalist researching a story.

It paid off for me to fill my suitcases with those horse shoes that Mrs. Kuki had objected to packing, because the very first night onboard I got lucky and won a fairly significant amount of money from the casino. As the week progressed and as my luck held I got even more daring in my betting. In the end, I did take home some of the casino's money.

On the "Club" registration documents it states that I would hear from the Ocean Players Club within 3 weeks of my return home. I patiently waited to hear the accounting of points of my "strictly business research project," and sure enough, almost 3 weeks to the day, I received a letter from the Carnival Corporation Casino Division. I was amazed to see I had "earned" 981 Points, which are redeemable onboard my next Carnival Corp. cruise at the rate of $1 for each point.

I've decided Carnival Corporation is a kind benefactor -- they let me win on my cruise vacation, then sent me another $981 to spend onboard for my next cruise.

Now all of this sounds very easy, but I have to admit it was mostly pure luck. If I hadn't been winning there would have been no way my average bet, and time played would have come anywhere near "earning" this many points. But I will admit, even if I had been losing, for the sake of research, I would have probably played at least the two hour a day minimum at the necessary $25 per bet minimum and therefore "earned" SOME points towards my next cruise.

I did see other passengers playing the $25 minimum bet who seemed to be there as many hours as required by the "Club" program. I'm not sure if all were aware of the program, registered in it, or knew of the possible benefits. Obviously after receiving a shipboard credit of $981 I think this program has some rewards for those of us that like to gamble. If you're a gambler you may as well join the Ocean Player's Club. In this case you've actually got nothing to lose.

I don't advise moving to the higher limit tables just to participate in the perks of this program. The results could be disastrous in terms of actual dollars you lose, and the losses aren't tax deductible.

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