What a "Free" Cruise really Costs

All of the Las Vegas Casinos have joined the band wagon for offering "free cruises" on Princess, Carnival and Norwegian.  You must pay your own port fees and gratuities.  So as an example, a 7 day cruise to Mexico with 3 ports would cost you $110 for fees & roughly $100 for gratuities per person for an inside room. (Obviously you would have an expense getting to and from the port.)  There is a nominal up-charge fee to upgrade your cabin to a balcony or a suite.

So what is the catch?  When the schedules for free cruises are released, they are booked extremely fast!  And obviously, it is dependent upon rolling over the money you gamble with over a period of time.

What about free offers from the cruiseline you are sailing on?  Based on your play, the line may offer you a cruise for X amount of days plus X amount of cash.

What is the catch?  You usually have a very short window (6 months) to book and sail on the offer.

Bottom Line: The money spent gambling (and hopefully winning) needs to offset the cost or your "free" cruise can cost you a fortune.  That said, if you gamble anyway, you might as well choose places that reward your play with more than a free bufffet.

4 Answers

My upcoming cruise is a "free" casino cruise courtesy of my mom. She's actually frugal and never spends more than ten or twenty bucks at a time, so neither of us are sure how she's managed VIP status, but we don't mind.  

Paid roughly $500 in port fees and $100 in service charges.  Got a great deal on airfare and a decent hotel for the night before.  

Sure it's not free, but it's still a good deal, and we might not have considered cruising otherwise (though we're always looking for an excuse for travel).

One can achieve VIP status very quickly the following way:  Bet 50 cents or a dollar on a slot machine on a day there is a 10x multiplier.  This makes your bet equivalent to $5 or $10 a pull.  Do that for a few hours and you will be surprised at how quickly your status goes up.  

PS Hope you earn another free cruise while on this one!  

I earn free cruises on my Carnival Credit Card.  Yes, we do have to pay port charges, too.  Still it is a bargain to earn a free cruise just spending money I normally spend. 

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