One of the conventional wisdom items that you come across when it comes to cruise ships is that the casino is always closed when a ship is in port, so don’t expect to get to gamble when a ship is docked. I see people coming out in droves saying so on cruise ship forums when the topic comes up.
But can a cruise ship casino ever be open when in port?
STATUS: There are certain ports casino cruise ships can be open for when in port, sometimes all day and sometimes only specific hours. Whether they actually open can vary based on demand, the ship’s size and whether the cruise line licensed the right to do so.
One example that I’ve personally experienced is Labadee, Haiti, which is a private experience managed by Royal Caribbean for its cruise line. When docked at Labadee it is able to have the casino open, and in the case of my ship, slots were available the whole time and table games opened around mid-day.
Cococay, their other private experience, has been both closed and open in the past. As of July 2021, when I most recently updated this post, mailers were going out from Royal Caribbean advertising extended casino hours while in Cococay, a new development given the marketing, but obviously this can evolve over time.
Other ports may allow the casino to be open at night, or for specific hours, especially if docked overnight. The cruise ships are beholden to the various regulations and requirements where they’re docked, so your best bet is to check the Cruise Compass or similar examples that list casino hours for ships while in port to get an idea if you can expect the casino to be open.
For regular gamblers who want as much access to cruise ship casinos as possible, this information can also be used to target itineraries that maximize access to a casino being open, along with more sea days where the casino will by default be open.