I earned a ‘free’ cruise in a ship on line casino — here is what it price, plus suggestions for getting comped

It is a story about playing, despite the fact that I’m not a lot of a gambler. Earlier than beginning analysis for this story, I don’t recall ever taking part in something in a cruise ship on line casino. Nonetheless, it is a story about how I performed the slots in Royal Caribbean’s On line casino Royale to earn a “free” cruise. Your outcomes might differ from mine. Please gamble responsibly.

I’ve all the time been intrigued by the idea of complimentary on line casino cruises. Had been they legendary, or completely for top rollers? Might I begin from nothing, take one cruise, stick with a strict playing price range and parlay that right into a free crusing? The concept was thrilling — addictive even — and as soon as it took maintain, I couldn’t let go.

Though I don’t gamble a lot, I do come from a protracted line of slot machine gamers. So I channeled the luck of my grandmother and dived into researching Royal Caribbean’s Membership Royale on line casino program, with the goal of beating the system and netting a comped cruise. Here is the way it went down, what I discovered and the way a lot it price me — plus recommendations on the way you, too, can get “free” cruises from onboard on line casino play.

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Tips on how to get on line casino comps on Royal Caribbean

A on line casino comp is a free merchandise or perk given out by a on line casino to entice you to play extra. To earn on line casino comps on a Royal Caribbean cruise, you will need to first spend money and time playing within the onboard on line casino, On line casino Royale, being cautious to make use of your Sea Go cruise card to trace your play. That will get you “rated” as a participant within the line’s Membership Royale on line casino loyalty program, which in flip will get you perks and comps based mostly on a factors system. (Observe: These tiers will not be associated in any strategy to Royal Caribbean’s Crown and Anchor loyalty program for frequent cruisers.)

You earn completely different quantities of factors per greenback performed relying on the sport you select. Slots earn factors at a price of 1 per $5 performed, together with re-played winnings; video poker machines earn $1 per $10 performed; and desk video games earn factors based mostly in your common wager and time spent on the desk (which is considerably subjective). The variety of factors you earn in a 12-month interval from April 1 by March 31 determines your tier stage for the following 12 months.

Every tier stage comes with perks and reductions; when you make it to the second tier, Prime, and past, you additionally get a comped cruise on the finish of the present program 12 months. Prime members, for instance, earn a comped inside cabin and likewise get free drinks on the on line casino bar on each cruise as quickly as the extent is reached.

Observe {that a} complimentary Royal Caribbean cruise consists of cruise fare for 2, however you continue to must pay the extra taxes and port charges. You may improve comped cruises to increased class staterooms by paying an improve payment based mostly on the worth distinction between your awarded class and your most popular class on the crusing you’re reserving.

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Along with the rewards earned by the tier system, anybody, no matter their tier standing, can earn prompt reward certificates whereas on board a cruise. These are awarded based mostly on the variety of factors earned completely in your present cruise. The chart detailing the variety of factors required to earn an prompt reward modifications ceaselessly and is just out there on board on the On line casino Host desk.

Every reward has two elements. The primary half is the moment reward certificates, typically a reduction on a cruise or a comped cruise, which you’ll redeem when reserving a crusing from a brief listing of choose cruises inside a sure timeframe. The second is a bonus reward that you simply solely get when you ebook a cruise (or not less than pay a placeholder deposit) by the Subsequent Cruise future cruise-booking program whereas on board your present crusing.

For instance, when you hit the 800-point stage on a single cruise, you get an prompt reward certificates good for $250 off choose cruises, and an onboard reserving bonus of a complimentary inside cabin on choose dates. (Observe that when you ebook the free cruise, you don’t additionally get the low cost.) At increased level ranges, the certificates earned could also be for a comped cruise and the onboard-booking bonus is without spending a dime play (cash in your account that’s solely legitimate for on line casino play). On this case, when you booked the cruise on board, you’d get each perks.

When you stroll off the ship with out reserving a cruise or placing down a deposit for a TBD future cruise, you lose out on the bonus supply, although you possibly can nonetheless redeem the moment reward certificates inside the allotted time. On the spot reward certificates get significantly difficult when you attain a excessive level stage on the final night time of the cruise.

The third alternative for Membership Royale members to earn rewards is probably the most mysterious. That is when the cruise line selects recipients based mostly on demographic standards similar to age, place of residency, variety of occasions cruised per 12 months, common wager, common time spent within the on line casino and even marital standing and sends them focused affords, which may vary from $100 off a cruise to complimentary junior suites. These marketing-based affords are often restricted to particular sailings, typically with close-in dates, for a variety of cruise lengths and cabin classes. Members report receiving them by snail mail, e-mail or strictly through the Membership Royale member web site.

The extra factors you earn on a single cruise, the higher your advertising and marketing affords are prone to be. Gamers who get advertising and marketing affords for junior suites are sometimes working fairly a bit of cash by the on line casino or did that not less than as soon as; a cruiser who gambles $20 on a cruise most likely will not get advertising and marketing affords in any respect. There’s additionally no assure that when you begin receiving these affords they are going to proceed; they will cease as mysteriously as they begin.

My journey to a free cruise primarily includes this final kind of comp, however as you’ll see, a greater understanding of the opposite sorts of bonuses may have helped us save much more.

How I earned a ‘free’ on line casino cruise

Quantum of the Seas. ROYAL CARIBBEAN

If I needed to attain a comped on line casino cruise, I first wanted to go on a cruise and play within the on line casino. My fundamental aim was to not spend an excessive amount of (as a result of that may take away from the worth of the comped crusing), so I discovered a five-night crusing on Quantum of the Seas in early Might when Alaska costs had been low. My husband and I used Southwest Airline factors for flights to Seattle to assist hold our preliminary prices down.

Every night, he performed blackjack and I performed slots. I put aside a price range of $200 for the slots. I arrived at that quantity primarily as a result of dropping rather more than that may exceed the worth of a brief cruise in an inside cabin, which is the most typical comped cruise providing. Hubs set his blackjack price range at $500. My common wager per spin was round $1, typically as excessive as $2. I performed on the identical penny machine at some point of the cruise. Hubs performed at $10 blackjack tables, with bets ranging between $10 and $25.

On the finish of the cruise, I nonetheless had my $200 and had earned 291 Membership Royale factors. Hubs had round $300 left and had accrued 139 factors. Observe that I earned factors whereas breaking even by placing my winnings again into the machine; these 291 factors required $1,455 to be run by the machine (at $5 per level). The purpose counter within the machine doesn’t distinguish between your authentic cash and the cash it paid out to you alongside the way in which.

At that time we had loved a stunning Alaska cruise at a discount worth and had enjoyable taking part in within the on line casino with out dropping an excessive amount of cash, so it was a win no matter what occurred subsequent.

It took a full week following the cruise for our factors to point out up on the Membership Royale Affords web site. Two weeks after the cruise, the primary advertising and marketing supply of $100 off a cruise confirmed up. I’ve now obtained a complete of 20 of these $100-off affords. (Hubs obtained zero affords.)

On July 12, two months after the tip of our Might cruise, I obtained a advertising and marketing supply of a complimentary inside cabin for 2. The cruises provided had been all for the approaching fall and had been three to 5 nights lengthy. Two weeks later I obtained one other supply of a complimentary inside stateroom for 2, additionally with fall dates. That listing was for cruises of six to eight nights lengthy. To this point, these are the one comp cruise affords I’ve obtained.

How I turned a comp into an affordable trip

Screenshot of Royal Caribbean e-mail. MELINDA CROW/THE POINTS GUY

The reserving window is slim on these affords. Fb on line casino mates had warned that rooms allotted for on line casino comps can disappear rapidly, so I began my seek for a cruise as quickly as the primary supply arrived. Once more, my aim was to maintain the cruise as “free” as potential.

My methodology was to log into the Royal Caribbean web site, seek for the precise cruises proven within the providing, then research pricing by strolling many of the method by the reserving course of to see the actual particulars, not that first-screen stuff, which regularly modifications as you slim down the alternatives. I used to be checking on two issues: What are the taxes and port charges (which fluctuate based mostly on the itinerary and variety of passengers, not the stateroom class) and what’s the worth distinction between an inside cabin and an ocean view ought to I need to improve?

I began with departure ports we may both drive to or these I felt would contain an affordable flight. The primary few sailings I checked out had giant gaps between inside and out of doors cabin fares. I hit the jackpot, although, with a four-night crusing of Grandeur of the Seas out of Galveston. We dwell 4 hours from the port and the improve hole was solely $33 per individual for the cruise.

Cruise reserving receipt. MELINDA CROW/THE POINTS GUY

I referred to as the On line casino Royale reservations line. After a maintain time of solely two minutes, I had an agent on the road serving to me ebook my comp cruise. She quoted me $86.42 per individual in “taxes, charges and port bills,” $33 per individual for a “on line casino improve” and $58 per individual for pay as you go gratuities. The quantity charged to my bank card was $354.84. The overall expenses for an out of doors cabin with out the on line casino comp supply, plus taxes and gratuities, would have been $1,036.84, a financial savings of $682.

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Added bills we incurred included $104 in gasoline for driving to and from the port. I used 15,000 Wyndham Rewards factors for an ocean-view room on the Baymont in Galveston for an in a single day keep earlier than the cruise. Port parking was $70 at a personal lot. We additionally took an tour priced at $79 per individual. To assist pay for that, I exchanged 5,000 My Cruise Rewards factors from my Financial institution of America Royal Caribbean bank card for $50 in onboard credit score.

I’m a Diamond Crown and Anchor member with Royal Caribbean, which comes with 4 free drinks per day, so I didn’t spend additional on alcohol. Diamond C&A members additionally obtain one free 24-hour interval of Wi-Fi per individual. We may have used that profit for every of the 2 sea days and reverted to cell service in port in Mexico, which is free on my wi-fi plan, however Royal Caribbean was conscious I used to be on board and provided complimentary Wi-Fi at some point of the cruise, one thing it typically does for media members.

On the finish of the day, our whole price for 2 individuals for a four-night cruise was $636.84, or lower than $80 per individual, per day. That’s what I name an inexpensive trip.

Our pricey on line casino mistake

On line casino Royale on Grandeur of the Seas. MELINDA CROW/THE POINTS GUY

We boarded our comped cruise hoping to return out of it with extra factors and higher affords for each me and my husband. That meant we needed to tweak our technique from the primary cruise. I elevated my price range to $400; hubs budgeted $400 as nicely. We additionally determined he ought to play some slots on this cruise, because the consensus amongst Membership Royale members on social media is that slot gamers earn factors far sooner (which had additionally been our expertise on the Might cruise).

I earned 318 factors and got here residence with the $400 I budgeted, breaking even once more. Like earlier than, I caught to penny machines, and wager a median of round $1 per spin. Hubs additionally broke even, bringing residence his authentic $400. He earned 136 factors on slot machines. His slot machine play was all the time $1 bets or barely over and his blackjack bets had been once more between $10 and $25 per hand.

Right here is the place we made a pricey mistake. While you’re taking part in on slot machines, the display screen will let you know what number of factors you’ve got earned taking part in on machines throughout that cruise. However when you’re taking part in desk video games, the one strategy to learn the way many factors you’ve got earned is to ask the on line casino host. Even the host might not be capable of offer you an actual whole, as a result of there’s a lag as pit bosses need to enter info manually into the system.

We checked on hubs’ level whole from the tables mid-cruise; he had 56. We had no motive at the moment to consider he would earn sufficient factors to earn an prompt rewards certificates, so we put it out of our minds.

The morning after we arrived residence, I logged into every of our accounts to see if level totals had been up to date. Whereas there was no change in factors but, hubs had a suggestion listed as “2022 October On the spot Rewards” for $250 off a cruise. I checked the blurry picture I had snapped of the rewards chart on the desk of the on line casino host and was excited to see that $250 off was the reward for incomes between 800 and 1,200 whole factors on a single cruise. I used to be crushed although, to see that the Subsequent Cruise onboard bonus would have been a complimentary inside cabin.

As I discussed earlier, the comp cruise bonus is just activated if a cruise is booked or a deposit paid whereas nonetheless on board the ship. Since we didn’t do this, the certificates now was solely legitimate for $250 off a choose listing of cruises.

Once I appeared on the itineraries included in his supply, I used to be stunned to see that some wonderful comp alternatives would have been out there, together with seven nights on Surprise of the Seas from Rome in November. The cruises had been between 5 and eight nights, principally departing through the subsequent two and a half months, however with September 2023 sailings thrown in as nicely. A name to the Membership Royale reservation line bought sympathy, however nothing else.

The exhausting lesson we discovered is to by no means count on the on line casino to let you realize you earned an prompt reward certificates. We must always have checked with the host on the finish of our remaining night of taking part in to ask if there was a reward certificates ready for us. By not being proactive, we missed out on an epic comped cruise on a brand new ship in Europe.

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Professional suggestions for maximizing on line casino play

Screenshot of Membership Royale affords. MELINDA CROW/THE POINTS GUY

Between my on-line and in-person analysis into on line casino comps, I gathered some helpful intel and suggestions that can show you how to benefit from your onboard on line casino play and associated bonuses.

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Backside line

On line casino on Quantum of the Seas. ROYAL CARIBBEAN

How does all of this info work for the typical cruiser? Like several loyalty program, getting the complete good thing about Royal Caribbean’s (or some other cruise line’s) on line casino rewards program poses just a few challenges. Those that reap probably the most profit are these with versatile journey schedules and people who dwell driving distance from a cruise port. Cruisers who additionally take part within the factors, miles or loyalty packages of airways, resorts, cruise strains and bank cards profit by saving on extra vacation-related bills.

Utilizing comped cruises is harder for households, however there are alternatives to mix Royal Caribbean’s Children Sail Free gross sales with a comp supply. Cruisers on social media report upgrading to suites giant sufficient for a number of relations, and each penny saved by beginning with a comp means extra out there to spend on the holiday.

What it actually comes right down to is whether or not you get pleasure from playing within the ship’s on line casino. If that’s your factor, then completely, you need to be checking your level totals, schmoozing with the on line casino host and waiting for affords in your inbox and on-line. If placing cash in a machine hoping for an excellent final result appears neither enjoyable nor accountable to you, then purchasing cruise gross sales might be a greater path to a less expensive trip.

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