Gambling is undoubtedly a popular cruise ship pastime for many and the casino a common fixture on many a vessel. That’s not just the mainstream mega vessels either; you’ll find classy casinos nestled away on many of the luxury vessels too. So, let’s assume you enjoy a flutter but need that extra gambling atmosphere that only a sprawling land-based casino can provide. Well, Las Vegas cruises have the answer.
Las Vegas cruises?
At this point, you’d be forgiven for thinking something along the lines of ‘Las Vegas cruises? Last time I checked, Las Vegas wasn’t on the coast’. You’d be right of course but thanks to the cruise and stay holiday, Las Vegas cruises are a reality and the perfect choice for those who enjoy life on the ocean wave as much as they do life at the roulette wheel. If a few days spent in an opulent hotel in the world’s gambling capital before exploring the Californian coast in upmost luxury sounds like your idea of the perfect holiday, you’ll be pleased to know that with a cruise and stay package, it’s all possible.
A gambling mecca
You can’t fail to have heard of Las Vegas. A flash, brash unapologetic showman, it wears its heart (and indeed, its jacks, clubs, spades and diamonds) on its sleeve and is celebrated the world over as the world’s gambling capital. A larger than life mecca which thinks nothing of modelling one of its most famous casinos on an ancient Egyptian pyramid, offering you the chance to get married in a ceremony conducted by Elvis and hosting residencies from some of the world’s most celebrated musical artists. On Las Vegas cruises, you’ll have the chance to experience all this and more (OK you don’t have to get married if you don’t want to) and perhaps take some of the tips and tricks you’ve learned on-board with you to put to use in your ship’s casino.
Where did it all begin?
Native Americans had long known about the Las Vegas Valley but the first non-native American to visit it was actually a Mexican – Rafael Armijo – in 1829. Back in the 19th century, this area which we always tend to associate with dry, arid desert vistas contained a number of wells which kept a number of green meadows fertile. When you consider that Vegas is Spanish for meadows, it’s easy to see how the Las Vegas Valley got its name. After spending a good 50 years as a Mormon mission, Las Vegas became known as a railroad town, then a stopover for pioneers. It wasn’t long before the legalisation of gambling in 1931 led to purpose-built buildings, not least in Las Vegas, where a number of casino hotels were established.
As well as being the home of Vegas, one of the things the state of Nevada is known historically is the nuclear testing of the 1940s and perhaps surprisingly, it was this testing that was responsible for contributing to Las Vegas’ accelerated development as the world’s gambling capital. The Manhattan Project led to an influx of scientists and researchers in the area and the city developed accordingly. It didn’t take long for number of organised crime figures to get wind of the lucrative potential of gambling either and a number of them founded some of the city’s original casinos. These days, the gambling which Las Vegas is famous for is strictly monitored and above board but the larger than life atmosphere is as colourful and engaging as it ever was and the choice of things to see wider than ever before.
Things not to miss on Las Vegas cruises
So, you’ve arrived in Las Vegas. The very first thing you should do is take a stroll along the iconic strip to soak up the sights and sounds, or at least as many of them as you can, before being completely overwhelmed. The strip is every bit the flashing, noisy assault on the senses that it appears in the many movies and TV shows it’s starred in and is the place to be if you want that authentic Vegas experience. Whether you’re a gambler or not, it’s a must to spend at least a few dollars on the slots just to say you’ve done it. You’ll be able to take in iconic sights such as the Luxor Casino and Caesar’s Palace hotel casinos and of course, get your picture next to the famous ‘Fabulous Vegas’ sign, which lies at the south end of the strip.
One of the strip’s most celebrated landmarks, the Bellagio fountains are a must-see attraction in themselves and something you can enjoy completely for free if you’ve used up all the gambling budget. Spectacular at any time of the day, they’re nevertheless best experienced at night, when the famous dancing waters put on a show every 15 minutes, choreographed to music. As the songs, change, so does the display, so stick around to get the most out of the fountains.
Dinner and a show
It may offer a completely different ambience to Broadway, but Las Vegas is an excellent place to enjoy an evening’s entertainment. With a choice of literally thousands of restaurants and eateries, you’ll be able to find the perfect place to eat, no matter what your preferred dish is. Seafood, French crepe pancakes, Italian, Mexican, American Steakhouse, Korean…the list goes on. It’s safe to say that this is the only place on earth where you can enjoy gourmet French cuisine in the Eiffel Tower and sip a cocktail in an Egyptian pyramid on the same night. When it comes to entertainment, Las Vegas comes alive nightly with both musicals and musical performances. Broadway shows, magic extravaganzas and circus performances are all part of the nightly programme of events, as are performances from such world-class legends as Elton John and Rod Stewart. If you’d rather sit back and enjoy music from yesteryear, there’s a wide choice of shows and performances to take you back to the days of everyone from Frank Sinatra and the Beatles to Prince and Michael Jackson.
This is one of Las Vegas’ most visible landmarks, which is obvious when you consider its name. The Stratosphere Tower is a dizzying 1,150 feet tall and emerges from the top of the hotel of the same name. As a viewing platform it offers an amazing view of the city and the strip but this being Vegas, it’s much more than that. It’s not too unusual to see people bravely bungee jumping from the top and there are a number of theme park-style thrill rides to try out while you’re there, too.
By Simon Brotherton