ANTE UP POKER CRUISES
****As we continue to monitor developments in the fight against COVID-19, we presently do not have any Ante Up Poker Cruises scheduled. Please come back later to see when have resumed sailing.****
Ante Up Poker Cruises transforms the conference centers aboard regularly scheduled Royal Caribbean Cruise Line sailings into a professionally staffed and equipped poker room with cash games, tournaments and an open-bar cocktail party! While we welcome players of all skill levels, we cater to recreational players looking to make new friends while playing some cards. For that reason, we like to call our sailings “home games at sea” for that reason, even though we follow Poker TDA to ensure a smooth sailing. Join us!
Questions? Ready to book?
ABOUT ANTE UP CRUISES
What can you expect on an Ante Up Poker Cruise, aside from knowing that you’ll make dozens of new friends will enjoying playing poker in a professionally staffed and equipped poker room?
The non-smoking poker room is always conveniently located in the ship’s conference center near restrooms, a smoking area, the dining room and elevators, with a cocktail server on call. The room is open from 10 a.m. until the last game breaks at night, except during dinner. We also are required to be closed while in most ports. We use professional poker tables and equipment. On sea days, Ante Up provides complimentary coffee, tea, juice and pastries to players.
Ramze Suliman, a veteran executive of land-based and at-sea poker rooms, managers our room, adhering to Poker TDA rules and proper poker procedures, but also with an eye for making the games relaxed and fun for all players. He hires only professional dealers who work in poker rooms and on the tournament circuit.
Daytime, we offer tournaments with buy-ins ranging from $20 to our $100 Main Event and, depending on the sailing, in a variety of formats, including survivor and bounty. In the evening, we spread cash games in any format and at any level that we have enough players for. $1/$3 no-limit hold’em ($100-$300 buy-in) always runs, and on many cruises, we also get a $4/$8 limit Omaha/8 game going.
Ante Up guests on all sailings will get these free gifts from Ante Up partners:
- Card cover commemorating each sailing from The Poker Depot
- One-month membership to Advanced Poker Training
- Poker odds card from Thomas Gallagher Casino Seminars
Royal Caribbean operates a full casino on board all of their cruises, featuring slots, blackjack, craps, roulette and other table games.
WIN YOUR WAY ABOARD
Casinos and poker rooms often hold satellite tournaments or cruise giveaways in their rooms or events. Details on giveaways are listed one the Details pages for each cruise. Ask the manager of your favorite poker room to contact Scott Long at (727) 331-4335 or firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a giveaway.
WHAT TO EXPECT ON CRUISES
Here you should find the answers to most of your questions about cruising with Ante Up. If you can’t find what you need here or in the Royal Caribbean videos above, or are ready to book, contact Jeanne Cosenza at (727) 742-3843 or email@example.com and she’ll be happy to help.
What is a cruise?
If you’ve never taken a cruise before, it’s one of the best vacation values anywhere. Your cruise fare includes your stateroom, all-you-can eat dining (three meals a day in the dining room, snack bars, buffets and room service) and fun activities (nightly shows, music, games, classes, art auctions, etc.), all for a price much lower than most land-based vacations. You’ll also get to visit several exotic destinations, where you can take part in organized shore excursions or explore on your own, all with unpacking just once.
What is a poker cruise?
A poker cruise is everything described above – plus the opportunity to play great poker in a professionally run and equipped poker room! Just like your favorite land-based poker room, you can play a variety of cash games and tournaments. Every cruise includes an open-bar cocktail party on the first day.
Before you book
Ante Up books passengers up to 72 hours before we sail, provided that staterooms remain, but we encourage passengers to book prior to each cruise’s “rate guarantee” deadline when price, stateroom selection and availability is much better.
Most Ante Up Cruises are “closed-loop itineraries,” meaning that they begin and end from the same port, and thu, do not require a passport to sail or to get off in port. Passengers without a passport can sail with a government-issued birth certificate (raised seal) and a government-issued photo ID. However, we strongly recommend passports, as if you have need to fly home from a port for any reason, you will not be able to do so unless you have a passport. You can apply for a passport on the U.S. Department of State’s website.
All staterooms come with two twin beds, which can be converted into one queen, a vanity area, closet and bathroom with shower. Staterooms admittedly are small – starting at 114 square feet – though suites are larger and offer more amenities. Inside staterooms have no windows, and oceanview staterooms (window) and balcony staterooms (balcony with a small table and two chairs) are generally the same size as inside staterooms. Junior suites are larger (starting at about 173 square feet), with a bathtub and balcony, and every ship has a variety of even larger suites with more amenities. Passengers needing accessible staterooms are urged to book as soon as possible, as there are very few of these staterooms on each ship and they sell out quickly.
Ante Up’s rates include cruise fare, port charges and taxes and fees and are per person based on double occupancy. The only additional mandatory charge is for shipboard gratuities for the head waiter, waiter, assistant waiter and cabin steward, which are automatically billed to guests’ folios. All other charges (transportation to and from the ship, poker buy-ins, beverages, gambling, Internet, spa treatments, photos, souvenirs, shore excursions, etc.) are optional and additional. The cruise fare’s full amount is due upon booking. We don’t take deposits. Please note that is the policy of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines that only passengers who book through Ante Up be admitted to the Ante Up Poker Room.
Cruise lines assess a single supplement for passengers not sharing a stateroom with another passenger. The rate is a little bit less than double fare. Ante Up is happy to put solo travelers in touch with other solo travelers who don’t mind sharing a stateroom to save money. Matched roommates pay for their stateroom and on-board charges separately.
Third/fourth passengers sharing a stateroom
Some staterooms are equipped with fold-down additional beds so a third or fourth passenger can share the same stateroom. Generally speaking, the rate for additional passengers is less. However, remember that staterooms are small. Ante Up doesn’t recommend more than three adult passengers per stateroom.
All staterooms must have at least one guest who is 21 or older. Drinking age on board all ships is 21, and gambling age on board all ships is 18. Children as young as 6 months old may sail, but there are no discounts for children. The ship offers free, supervised daytime programs for children of all ages and offers individual or group babysitting for an additional fee.
All passengers can cancel based on a staggered cancellation policy (100% before Ante Up’s rate guarantee deadline, less afterward). Also, Ante Up can process name changes on staterooms up to 72 hours before sailing, so if you or your travel partner(s) can’t go, you can find a friend or family member to take your spot. Passengers who want additional peace of mind or added protection for accidents while in port can buy Royal Caribbean’s CruiseCare travel insurance when they book. It can not be added later. Ante Up is not affiliated with the insurance company, and makes no claims about what policies do and do not cover. It is the responsibility of passengers to thoroughly review the policy’s coverage before buying.
Before you board
Ante Up provides all guests with an email confirmation after booking. Please review it and immediately let us know of any mistakes. The confirmation email also has links to more information, including airports, cruise ports and cruise lines.
Once Ante Up receives your booking number from the cruise line, we’ll send a second email to you with that number and directions on how to complete the online check-in process and get your boarding documents. Everything is done electronically. You will not receive anything in the mail. For passengers without Internet access, we encourage you to find a friend or relative who does who can complete the online check-in for you. You do not have to complete the online check-in in order to sail, but we have limited to no ability to correct errors in your booking at the port, so you risk being denied boarding if you don’t complete the online check-in.
If you’re flying, you can buy roundtrip airport transfers from the cruise line. Please note there are restrictions on when you flight arrives in the port city and when your return flight leaves in order to use transfers.
Pack light. Staterooms are small with limited storage space. Dress code is casual during the day (no swimsuits allowed in dining room); slightly nicer in the evening (no shorts allowed in the dining room). Each Royal Caribbean cruise has one formal night (two on 7-night cruises), though a nice shirt and slacks will be sufficient to wear to the dining room. Large bags can be checked curbside with the porters, while bags that fit through the X-ray machine may be carried on. Please note that access to staterooms is restricted to about 1 p.m. on the first day, and checked luggage may not arrive until after dinner. So be sure to pack anything you need before then in a carry-on. Also, review Royal Caribbean’s list of prohibited items, including most alcohol and irons.
- Boarding begins around 11-11:30 a.m. for all sailings. Guests usually must be on board no later than 3 p.m. for all sailings. Please plan to arrive at least one hour before boarding deadline to account for any delays you may encounter. (Disembarkation on the final day begins at 7 a.m. and all passengers must be off the ship no later than 10 a.m.)
- Parking for a nominal fee is available at all ports. Please visit the website for individual ports for directions and rates, and lots not affiliated with the port may also be available for a lower rate.
- Leave checked bags with the curbside porters (gratuity suggested at most ports). Porters will print luggage tags from your boarding documents.
- Please be sure to carry with you your boarding documents and passport/birth certificate.
- Once on board, please go to the Conference Center and check in with Ante Up’s staff to get your required ID badge and cruise brochure.
- The open-bar cocktail party takes place after the mandatory lifeboat drill, usually around 5 p.m. Location will be emailed to passengers in advance and listed in the cruise brochure that you get on-board.
All ships feature a full casino with all your favorite casino games. Ante Up is not affiliated with the on-board casino, and casino chips are not legal tender in the Ante Up Poker Room, and Ante Up chips are not legal tender in the casino.
Staterooms are equipped with telephones with ship-to-shore service. Rates are expensive. You can use your cellphone on board, but will be charged by your carrier for international roaming rates, so it’s usually a good idea to turn off your phone’s transmitter as soon we leave port and not turn it back on until we return to avoid a hefty bill unless you connect your phone to the ship’s WiFi. It’s recommended that you ask friends and family to contact you via email while sailing. Computers are provided for guests’ use, or you can connect wirelessly to your own equipment either by the minute or with a daily or cruise-length package. Most ports have restaurants that offer free Wi-Fi.
You’ll never go hungry on a cruise ship! Feel free to load your plate at the buffet, or order two entrees in the dining room. It’s all included.
- Breakfast: Available in open seating in the dining room or at the buffet.
- Lunch: Available in open seating in the dining room or at the buffet.
- Dinner: Available at assigned seating in the dining room or open seating at the buffet. The Ante Up group sits together in the dining room (main seating time). My Time dining is also available on Royal Caribbean ships, allowing for guests to dine in the dining room without an assigned table/time (guests must prepay shipboard gratuities if they wish to use My Time dining). All ships have specialty restaurants with an additional charge.
- Snacks: Are available for free in snack bars throughout the day and night and during special buffets. Some snacks are available for an additional charge.
- Room service: Food can be ordered to your stateroom at an additional charge.
- Beverages: Coffee, tea, lemonade and tap water are included in the cruise fare. All other beverages are available for purchase. Soda, wine and alcohol packages are available for purchase. Complimentary alcohol is available during select events, including the Ante Up Open-Bar Cocktail Party, the Captain’s Welcome party and art auctions. Neither the casino nor the poker room comps drinks while playing.
All passengers are required to pay the minimum suggested gratuity amount for four ship-board employees: head waiter, waiter, assistant waiter and cabin steward. These amounts will be posted to your on-board account nightly, and you’re welcome to reward exemplary service with an additional cash gratuity. Ante Up Poker Cruise dealers and cashiers work for gratuities as well. Please reward their service as you would these same employees in land-based poker rooms.
The Ante Up Poker Room is a cash-only poker room. You can not charge poker expenses to your shipboard account, so please bring a sufficient amount of cash for your level of play. Most staterooms have safes, and Guests Services also offers safe deposit boxes. Ships and ports do have ATMs, but the supply of cash in them can’t be guaranteed. For guests who are uncomfortable carrying large amount of cash, we recommend traveler’s checks. Royal Caribbean will cash up to $1,000 per day in traveler’s checks per guest. Royal Caribbean will cash one $200 per cruise in personal checks per guest.
Your room key doubles as an on-board charge card, and most purchases made on board will be automatically billed to it. During online check-in, you can secure this account with a credit or debit card (charges will be billed to it after the cruise) or with cash. The Ante Up Poker Room is a cash-only poker room. You can not charge poker expenses to your card.
The Ante Up Poker Room is set up in the Conference Center. The room is generally open from 10 a.m. to the last game breaks, except for 2.5 hours for dinner and when we are docked in port. We use live, professional dealers (not e-tables) for our games and our rakes and entry fees are consistent with land-based poker room industry standards, and much lower than what cruise ship casinos normally charge.
Port stops/shore excursions
You’re free to explore ports on your own, or you can book a shore excursion or you can stay on board the ship and relax when we’re in port. Shore excursions can be booked even before you get on board (recommended if you really want to be sure you get to do an excursion, since some are capacity controlled), though most people book once on board. You can often find the same excursions for less money on your own off the ship, but be aware that the ship will only be held for groups on ship-sponsored excursions. So if your bus breaks down on an excursion that you booked independently, the ship won’t wait for you.
Smoking is allowed in designated bars and decks on board. Smoking is prohibited in staterooms, including on balconies, and in the Ante Up Poker Room.