Royal Caribbean Group to pivot away from poker cruises in 2025

Haley Hintze
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Posted on: December 12, 2023 2:43 pm EST

One of a handful of cruise lines that has catered to the poker market with dedicated, multi-day international cruises, Royal Caribbean Group, has disclosed to its business partners that it will no longer offer such poker-themed voyages, beginning in 2025. Royal Caribbean’s break from poker is part of a larger move distancing itself from any gaming-themed partner companies.

News of Royal Caribbean’s decision to pivot away from poker-related cruise packages came via an announcement from Card Player Cruises, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary in the poker-cruise niche. The announcement came from Card Player Cruises executives Linda Johnson, Jan Fisher, and Mark and Tina Napolitano.

“It is with great sadness and deep regret that we have to share an important update regarding our longstanding relationship with Royal Caribbean,” the Card Player Cruises announcement states.

“After many years of collaboration between Card Player Cruises and Royal Caribbean, some of those years being totally exclusive, Royal Caribbean has informed us that, as of January 1st, 2025, they are no longer willing to do business with any gaming companies. This decision has obviously come as a huge shock to our company.”

2024 Royal Caribbean poker cruises to run as scheduled

The Card Player Cruises leadership did confirm for its customers, many of whom are dedicated poker-cruise aficionados, that all cruises scheduled with Royal Caribbean through 2024 will run as scheduled. CPC’s 2024 schedule includes cruises to the Caribbean, the Mexican Riviera, Alaska, and the Far East. Two Caribbean cruises are scheduled for January.

Most major cruise lines have casinos onboard their ships, which are in operation whenever the ships are in international waters. Dedicated poker-themed packages are something of a rarity, with Card Player Cruises and the World Poker Tour being the largest of several such poker entities offering ocean-liner poker trips.

Royal Caribbean is the second-largest cruise line in the world, trailing only Carnival in that regard. The WPT also used Royal throughout the 2010s for its poker-cruise offerings, but has more recently moved to the smaller Virgin Voyages for several poker-themed travel and entertainment packages. Virgin is likely to be among the cruise lines to receive prominent consideration as a new home for Card Player Cruises.

As the statement explained, “We are actively exploring alternative cruise line partnerships to continue offering you exciting and memorable poker travel experiences with Card Player Cruises in 2025 and beyond.”

Featured image source: Card Player Cruises