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If you love poker, a poker cruise may be just what you are looking for. And, if your spouse has been itching to go on a beautiful cruise to the Bahamas, Alaska, Hawaii or the Mexican Riviera, well, there's a poker cruise you can take to meet both your dreams.

Booking and experiencing a terrific cruise is almost as easy as booking an airline flight. Chances are you will need a passport or at least a birth certificate with an embossed (raised letters) seal.

Beyond that, you just have to decide where you want to cruise, and for how long! Most cruise lines offer a place for you to park your car, just like an airport. And, when you cruise, your meals are included in your cabin prices! Eat all you want, all day long, and that includes 24-hour room service! You will encounter a few extra costs like port fees, parking, taxes and tips, but overall your main expense is the shipboard cabin you book.

Poker Cruise Providers

For US destinations, there are two major poker cruise providers.

Poker Player cruises are offered on the Royal Caribbean line and should be booked at 702-253-2700. The next 7-night cruise to the Caribbean runs about $1189 per person, plus tax. Poker games are available when the ship is actually at sea. The poker room will shut down when the ship comes into port. You can expect the live games to start after the first night's dinner is served.

Card Player Cruises offer a wide selection of poker cruises, favoring Holland America and Royal Caribbean lines. You can book cruises to the Caribbean, Hawaii and even Alaska to enjoy the great poker offered on-board.

Cruise packages vary by the amenities of the ship, the ports of call, and the length of the cruise. You can book a 7-night Card Player package aboard Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas out of New Orleans, LA for as little as $649 right now. Additional information is available at: (888) 999-4880.

What to Expect On-board

There is just so much to do on-board and when the ship pulls into different ports of call that you might play less poker than you expect. You can also anticipate gaining a few pounds from all the great food included in your cruise package!

Whether you disembark and check out each port of call or not, the poker room will be closed when the ship is not at sea, you'll have plenty to do. Ships offer on-board activities like ice skating, rock-climbing, themed bars and lounges, golf simulators and miniature golf, basketball, fitness centers and swimming pools. Maybe you won't gain any weight!

The Poker Room

To play in the poker room you must book your cruise through the poker provider, such as Poker Player or Card Player Cruises. If you don't, you can't play! It helps if you know how to play poker, but beginner classes are held on each cruise and low limit, $1 to $2 Texas Hold'em games are offered for new players.

Every cruise offers several poker tournaments with entry fees from $100 up to $300. Some cruises have special freeroll tournaments for early booking or other incentives. Tournaments are most likely to be No-limit Texas Hold'em.

Although the poker room will spread most any game a group of players want, expect to see mostly No-limit Texas Hold'em games with blinds of $1-2 and $2-5. Max buy-ins are capped to make player stacks fair for all players and are likely to be $500 or less. Limit Hold'em is often available at $1-2, $2-4 and $4-8. You may also find Omaha High-low split 8 or better at the same limits.

Mixed games will also be spread at selected limits, based on interest. Card player cruises include excellent Free Poker Seminars given by experienced, professional poker players, and beginner classes for those new to poker are offered at no cost. If you want poker, a poker cruise can be terrific whether you are traveling alone or with your spouse and friends.

No Smoking - No Problems

The experienced poker room staff will take care of your game questions and needs, but smoking is not allowed. The rooms also have a very low tolerance for abuse of staff and other players. They want everyone to have a good time, so problem players are removed from the games.

Money On-board

Safe deposit boxes are available if you wish to store valuables (like cash) on-board. Most cruise lines offer cash advances on major credit cards and US currency and traveler's checks are accepted in most ports of call. However, your poker cruise will probably use a "sail and sign" format.

When you arrive on sailing day, the purser will ask you to register your credit card or make a cash deposit for incidentals like beverages, photos, shore excursions - and available cash for the poker room. Personal checks are unlikely to be accepted. Plan ahead!

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