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Royal Caribbean Casino Free Cruises – How to Get a Comped Cruise Plus Free Perks!

Royal Caribbean Casino Free Cruises – How to Get a Comped Cruise Plus Free Perks!

It’s easier than you think to earn free cruises in the Royal Caribbean casino. Here’s the scoop on how to qualify for a free cruise and bonus free casino credits in Casino Royale on RCI.

I’m just back from a twelve-day Royal Caribbean cruise around the British Isles, and of course Mr. SBC and I booked another RCI cruise while we were on the ship.

But instead of excitedly putting down a deposit for our upcoming voyage (and grumbling when we have to pay for it in full later), we just paid our taxes and port fees for the seven-night Western Caribbean sailing we selected. That was it—paid in full!

Did I mention that we’re booked in a free Junior Suite with a free $1000 casino credit? Or that Mr. SBC now gets free drinks in any RCI casino for the next year and a half?

Here’s how we did it (and how you can too!) And no, we didn’t gamble all day and night or lose a month’s salary (or more) at the casino.

Why do cruise casinos comp cruises?

If you’ve read my post about earning free drinks in Royal Caribbean casinos, you’ll know that cruise line casinos like to reward players with perks to keep them spending money!

Cruise ship casinos make money from passengers that gamble. If they have an idea of how much you gamble based on your playing history, they can assume you’re going to play at a similar level on your next cruise. So, casinos are able to comp free cruises based on their expected earnings.

Do you need to bet a lot of money to earn a free cruise on Royal Caribbean?

When friends and family members learn that we earn a lot of free cruises from playing in cruise line casinos, we’re usually met with one of three reactions:

“Wow! You guys must really win big in those cruise ship casinos to get free cruises!”


“You guys must lose a lot in those casinos to make them want you back!”


“You must be high rollers to get all that free stuff!”

But—none of those assumptions are true.

Cruise line casinos, just like land-based casinos, use a points system to track how much money you cycle through their gaming system.

Royal Caribbean’s Casino Royale venues give you reward points based on your spend. If you play slot machines, you’ll get one point per $5 that you put through the machines.

Looking at the chart below, you can see that the lowest amount of points you need to earn for a free cruise (which Casino Royale awards as an Instant Cruise Rewards Certificate) is 1200.

PointsAwardNextCruise Bonus
25,000Grand Suite$2000 FreePlay
15,000Junior Suite$1500 FreePlay
8000Junior Suite$1000 FreePlay
6500Balcony Stateroom$750 FreePlay
4800Balcony Stateroom$500 FreePlay
3600Oceanview Stateroom$250 FreePlay + Upgrade to Balcony*
2500Interior Stateroom$150 FreePlay + Upgrade to Oceanview*
2000$500 offComplimentary Interior Stateroom*
1600$400 offComplimentary Interior Stateroom*
1200$300 offComplimentary Interior Stateroom*
800$200 off
400$100 off
*on select dates

So if you were playing slots, it might initially look like you’d need to spend $6000 to earn a complimentary interior stateroom.

But it’s not counting up the cash you insert into the machines (or any money you charge to your onboard account). Instead, the system adds up each of your bets to tally your rewards points.

So you might insert a crisp $100 bill and play at a slot machine for an hour or two. Assuming that you have a little bit of luck, you could potentially turn that $100 into several hundred dollars (or more!) worth of “spend” as you cycle money through the machine.

You might walk away with a windfall (or an empty wallet), but that has no bearing on the points you earn during play.

What kind of free cruises can you get from playing in RCI casinos?

When we earn free cruises on other cruise lines, we usually get a mailer or an email with a fairly short list of cruises that we’re eligible for.

But when you earn a free cruise through Royal Caribbean’s casino, you’ll likely have a much longer list of cruises you can choose from.

How to find out which cruises you’re eligible for with an Instant Cruise Certificate

Once it was obvious that Mr. SBC was going to earn a free cruise on this sailing, we headed to the NextCruise desk to get an idea of the variety of cruises we’d be able to use our Instant Cruise Certificate on.

We knew our schedule was booked solid through the end of the year, and the first half of next year is pretty full as well. We wanted to shoot for enough points to at least earn a balcony stateroom, but it wouldn’t make sense if none of the available cruises worked with our schedules.

The NextCruise rep showed us examples of cruises we’d be eligible for, and there were way more on the list than I expected! Plus, there were plenty of eligible cruises sailing during the first half of next year, so I knew we’d be able to find one that worked for us.

Update: The NextCruise reps on my most recent RCI sailings (both on Oasis class ships) wouldn’t look up potential comped cruises until I had an appointment AND a certificate in hand. If you’d like to preview potential cruises, wait until the morning before disembarkation day and head to the Casino Host desk. They’ll be able to give you a printout of your free cruise options as well as a copy of your Instant Cruise Certificate if your steward hasn’t dropped it off yet!)

Booking our free casino cruise

Once we were ready to book our cruise, I gave the agent our (admittedly very picky) parameters—we wanted a six- to eight-day cruise during a specific six-week period next year. We wanted to sail from a port in Florida and we wanted an Oasis-class ship.

He clattered away on his keyboard for a moment, and came up with a list of eight or ten cruises we could pick from!

Although my hope of sailing on Wonder of the Seas (RCI’s newest) was dashed, we were able to book on her sister ship Harmony of the Seas. It’s still a newer vessel and one of the biggest cruise ships in the world!

We’re looking forward to our free casino cruise on Harmony of the Seas (image courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

If we didn’t have to be so choosy, we could have picked a shorter or a longer cruise, or chosen a sailing in a different part of the world.

Pro tip: Casino Royale has a rule about booking new ships that many cruisers don’t know about. A ship needs to be in service for at least one year before you can book it with a casino comp. But if the newest RCI ship has been sailing for over a year, you might see it on your list of potential free cruises!

Earning and tracking your points in Royal Caribbean casinos

When you’re playing in Royal Caribbean’s casinos, you’ll use your SeaPass card to earn points—either by inserting it into the machine (some newer ships let you tap your card) when you’re playing slots, or by handing it to the dealer when you buy chips at the gaming tables.

  • Slot machines – Earn 1 point for every $5 you play on a reel slot machine or $10 on a video poker machine.
  • Table games – Earning points is based on the type of table game you play, your average bet, and how long you play.

(Certain games aren’t eligible for points, including Texas Hold’em Poker, Keymaster, Cash Crane, and coin pushers.)

You can always check your point balance by inserting your card into any machine. Your total will appear at the bottom of the screen.

However, if you cash out any of your points to use as Free Play credit (which you should, because it’s free money) those points will disappear!

You still earned those points, so they count toward earning a free cruise—you just can’t see them. It’s a good idea to either wait until the last night to cash out your points, or keep a tally of any points you turn into Free Play credit.

But if you lose track, you can always visit the Casino Host desk to find out the total points you’ve earned.

The Casino Host desk on Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas

Board with a plan if you want to earn a free casino cruise on RCI

It’s always a smart idea to have a plan (including a budget) if you want to earn a free cruise in your ship’s casino. Cruise ships make it easy (some might argue too easy) to top up your funds by allowing you to add more money right from your cruise card!

Determining your casino budget

I met a couple a few years ago on a cruise who were constantly in the casino. I asked if they were having any luck, and they replied, “Not at all. But we’re just playing out our budget so we can get next year’s free cruises.”

They explained that they used to cruise once a year, and would pay several thousand dollars for a balcony stateroom and a drink package for two.

The couple decided to take that same cruise budget and use it in the casino. They both really enjoyed playing slots, and found that they would each earn a free cruise for two in a balcony stateroom (or higher if they were lucky).

“So we’re just paying for next year’s cruises right now,” the husband explained. “We have more fun playing in the casino compared to just paying the cruise fare up front. And now we can cruise twice a year instead of just once. We get free drinks in the casino now, too.”

But unless you’re throwing thousands into the machines, there’s no guarantee you’re going to walk away with a comped cruise.

Choose a budget that you feel comfortable losing (even if you don’t earn enough points for a comp) and stick to it. Some cruisers prefer bringing cash (Royal Caribbean casinos accept US dollars) to avoid the temptation of topping up funds via their SeaPass card.

Deciding on your games and wager amounts

Not all casino games on Royal Caribbean are created equal when it comes to earning points. As I mentioned earlier, regular slot machines will earn you one point per $5, however playing video poker (if your ship has it—not all RCI ships do) only gets you one point per $10.

But if you’re a skilled poker player, you might prefer those machines over the purely game-of-chance slots.

Or you might be a table games player, where the formula for earning points is a bit more secret (and based on more factors than pure spend).

Whichever type of game you choose to play, the average amount of your wager is going to impact how long it will take you to earn those coveted points.

Many seasoned players choose to avoid wagering just the minimum on slot machines because it takes much longer to earn points. On the flip side, if you don’t have a few decent wins early in your cruise, you might find yourself with empty pockets halfway through your sailing.

Casino Royale on Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas

Know when Casino Royale will be open

It may sound obvious, but you can only earn points in the casino when it’s open. But cruise ship casinos aren’t open 24/7!

In most cases, cruise ship casinos are only allowed to open when the ship is sailing in international waters. There are some exceptions to this rule, such as in Bermuda. At that port (along with a handful of others), the cruise lines have a paid agreement with the local government to allow gambling while the ship is docked in port.

For sailings that stay fairly close to land (think Alaska, British Isles, or the Norwegian fjords), your ship’s casino might not be open as often as on other cruises.

If you’re aiming to reach a certain point level to earn a free cruise, it’s a good idea to check both the Royal Caribbean app for scheduled hours as well as your printed Cruise Compass for updated times.

Score extra perks by using NextCruise on board

You might have noticed the NextCruise bonus column in the chart above (I’ve duplicated it below so you don’t need to scroll back up), and wondered how to be eligible for the upgrades or extra perks.

You’ll just need to visit the NextCruise desk near the end of your sailing, book your free cruise, and pay a small deposit that will go toward your taxes and port fees.

The bonuses you can get with NextCruise are pretty sweet—ranging from a free interior stateroom at just 1200 points (normally you’d have to earn 2500 points), all the way up to $2000 in FreePlay if you hit 25,000 points.

PointsAwardNextCruise Bonus
25,000Grand Suite$2000 FreePlay
15,000Junior Suite$1500 FreePlay
8000Junior Suite$1000 FreePlay
6500Balcony Stateroom$750 FreePlay
4800Balcony Stateroom$500 FreePlay
3600Oceanview Stateroom$250 FreePlay + Upgrade to Balcony*
2500Interior Stateroom$150 FreePlay + Upgrade to Oceanview*
2000$500 offComplimentary Interior Stateroom*
1600$400 offComplimentary Interior Stateroom*
1200$300 offComplimentary Interior Stateroom*
800$200 off
400$100 off
*on select dates

How to book your free casino cruise with NextCruise

The NextCruise desk is usually located on deck 5 or 6 (check the deck plans in the Royal Caribbean app for your specific ship).

You’ll need to make an appointment to meet with a NextCruise advisor if you want to redeem your free casino cruise while you’re on the ship.

Once the casino desk releases the Instant Cruise Certificates (generally the morning of the day prior to disembarkation), there can be a mad rush to book. So make that appointment as soon as you can!

You’ll usually find the appointment book at the front of the NextCruise area, and you just write your stateroom number in the block of time that works best for you.

Make your NextCruise appointment as soon as your can to redeem your Instant Cruise Reward Certificate

Tip: Although housekeeping will deliver your free cruise certificate to your stateroom at some point on your last full cruise day, you don’t need to wait! The Casino Host desk will be able to access (and print) your certificate that morning.

Redeeming your free cruise after your sailing

Although it makes so much sense to book your free casino cruise on board with NextCruise to get those extra perks and upgrades, you might not want to commit right away. Or, maybe you’re unable to meet with a representative on board because you’ve already committed to a long shore excursion during the hours that the desk is open.

No worries! Once you receive your Instant Cruise Rewards Certificate, you have 30 days to book.

Or, if you have a chance to meet with NextCruise but can’t decide which cruise you want, you can make a “Book Later” reservation, pay your deposit, and you’ll have seven days from the end of your cruise to choose a sailing.

How to get even more free casino cruises with RCI

Once you’ve earned an Instant Cruise Rewards certificate, you might think that’s it—no more free cruises until you earn points on your next sailing.

Nope! You can get even more. Keep an eye on your email for additional complimentary cruise offers. Once you hit Prime status in the casino at 2500 points, you’ll be eligible for more comps.

Just a few days after returning home from our cruise, Mr. SBC received this free cruise offer in his inbox:

If you miss any of the emails, you can always check your current offers by visiting the Casino Royale page. Just enter your last name and your Crown & Anchor number, then hit the lookup button.

Plus, when you reach Prime tier status or higher in the casino, you’ll also be eligible for a free annual cruise.

RCI’s Casino Royale has four tier levels:

  • Choice (0 to 2499 points)
  • Prime (2500 to 24,999 points) – free annual cruise in an interior stateroom
  • Signature (25,000 to 99,999 points) – free annual cruise in a balcony stateroom
  • Masters (100,000+ points) – free annual cruise in a Grand Suite

Frequently asked questions about Royal Caribbean free casino cruises

How old do you have to be to play in Royal Caribbean’s casino?

Royal Caribbean requires cruisers to be at least 18 years of age to play in Casino Royale (21 for Alaska cruises).

How many passengers can join me on a free casino cruise on RCI?

All comped cruises earned in Royal Caribbean’s casinos are for two. You can sail solo (you’ll only be charged taxes and port fees for one) or add extra guests in the same stateroom for an additional fee.

What isn’t included in RCI’s free casino cruises?

Exclusions include taxes, fees, and port expenses, any online booking processing fees (if applicable), fuel surcharges, upgrades, additional guests in the stateroom, additional staterooms, air and ground transfers, and onboard purchases.

Can I transfer my free casino cruise on Royal Caribbean to another person?

The guest who earned the comped cruise must be present on the sailing.

Where can I find the full terms and conditions for a free casino cruise on Royal Caribbean?

Royal Caribbean has a full list of terms and conditions for comped casino cruises on their Casino Promotions page.

More resources for your Royal Caribbean cruise

Have you ever earned a free cruise in the Royal Caribbean casino? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

Liked this post? Pin it for later!

Carrie Ann Karstunen


Wednesday 17th of April 2024

I'm on Oasis of the Seas this Sunday, I'm I'm Pinnacle so cruise a lot, I want to give the casino a go, Are there any machines that have a high percentage payout, how much per play would you recommend and does the time at the same machine play a part like the table games

Carrie Ann Karstunen

Friday 19th of April 2024

Hi Stephen, these are such great questions, and exactly what I know a lot of my readers are wondering about earning free casino cruises on Royal Caribbean! I'll start by saying that I'm by no means a slot machine expert, and I definitely have no "insider information" regarding Royal Caribbean's payouts by specific machine or any of their algorithms. Time playing at slot machines does affect offers just like it does with table games, but Royal doesn't make that information public. That said, I haven't paid outright for an RCI cruise in years, and I receive so many casino offers that I turn down far more than I actually take!

You asked how much play I'd recommend. I generally try to stick to a "casino play" budget per day, which for me is usually $100. Your budget might be higher or lower. I aim to hit at least 1200 points per sailing to guarantee a free cruise - which can be a struggle at my budget - but it all comes down to luck. On longer cruises, $100 per day will easily rack up those points, but I adjust it up on shorter sailings. Of course, if the cruise is almost over and I'm close to hitting 1200 points, I'll override my daily budget if it makes sense. More points earned also turns into more and better free cruise offers outside of the Instant Cruise Certificates, and will also get you more perks once you reach Prime status.

Regarding your question about which machines have a high percentage payout, if I knew the answer to that I wouldn't be sitting here writing about cruises! All kidding aside, I'd advise spending some time watching YouTube videos about slot machine strategies. My husband (who is Signature status and now earns full suite comps) swears by some of the tips he's learned there. Personally, I have my fave slots that I know well. But I also look for machines that are really popular when the casino is busy. I'll watch for a while to get a feel for when they like to pay out. I also make friends with other casino patrons to find out which slots are paying for them. People love to brag about their wins!

Enjoy your cruise on Oasis, and I wish you the best of luck!

Diana Dunn

Sunday 26th of March 2023

1) It is a good way to get potential people to take a cruise. 2) The contest serves as an advertisement for the cruise line. 3) People who take back home good experiences will talk about their vacation to others and give the cruse line a good rapport. 4) Winning a cruise would free up money to be spent on board elsewhere-including the casino. 5) Allows some people who would never normally take a cruise to go. 6) Since this is a Caribbean Casino free cruise, the winner would most definitely spend more time in the casino.

Carrie Ann

Wednesday 29th of March 2023

Hi Diana, thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment! I'm so glad you found so many valuable takeaways from my post. Happy cruising!

Veronica Skoch

Tuesday 15th of November 2022

We received a free cruise but I work in school system, hope to have a summer selection.

Carrie Ann

Wednesday 16th of November 2022

Hi Veronica, congrats on your free Royal Caribbean cruise! Am I right to assume you didn't receive an instant cruise certificate on the ship and you're looking at the free cruises you're eligible for via the Casino Royale page? In my experience they update monthly, and only show cruises you can take very soon. I'd say keep checking back, especially as it gets closer to your summer vacation. :)


Thursday 29th of September 2022

I'm going on a 4 night cruise Dec 2022. Say I earn 800 points in the casino, how long will those points last? Can I add them to my next cruise, say in 2023? Is there an expiration date on casino points?

Carrie Ann

Friday 30th of September 2022

Hi Kelly, excellent question! To get an Instant Cruise Certificate, you'd need to earn enough points on that sailing. But you do keep the points you've earned through the following casino year, which go toward your status (so you can earn free drinks and future comped cruises). I share more info on those benefits in my post How to Get Free Drinks in the Casino on Royal Caribbean – And More!

In your example, if you earn 800 points in December 2022, those points will go toward your casino status for all of 2023 and part of 2024 (through the end of the following "casino year": April 1, 2023 through March 31, 2024).

If you ever want to check your points and casino status, you can find them by logging into RCI's Casino Royale page

Enjoy your cruise, and I hope you win big in the casino!


Tuesday 30th of August 2022

My husband and I love cruising on Royal Caribbean, and we both like playing in the casino. But I don't think either of us could ever earn enough points for a free cruise. But I think if they pooled our play together we might! Can we do this? If he plays for a while on his card, and then I play later using his card, will that work? Do they even care?

Carrie Ann

Wednesday 31st of August 2022

Hi Amelia, thanks so much for this question! It's actually against the cruise line casinos' terms of service to use another guest's card. Cruise line casinos don't give comps as a reward based on past play. Instead, they give them as a promotion based on projected future play. Essentially, if a cruise line casino deems a specific player worthy of a free cruise, it's because they're assuming that specific player will gamble at a similar level on their next cruise.

My advice for you? If you're on a budget and want free cruises, alternate who plays in the casino from one cruise to the next to earn a free cruise. Or try a new cruise line! I've found that Carnival's casino team is very generous with comped cruises, even for those of us who aren't big gamblers.