While cruise lines are developing health and safety protocols to keep passengers safe, it looks like reservations might be required for almost any activity, including gambling.
Why the change may be necessary
One of the many issues that cruise lines have to deal with before they can go back online is how to keep guests socially aloof. Some of the ways in which this is to be achieved have been discussed fairly openly by executives from the various areas.
For example, they have talked about reducing the capacity in theaters and possibly increasing the number of shows to allow social distancing while allowing everyone to enjoy the entertainment. We have also been told repeatedly that restaurants have fewer tables so there is more space between them. And of course ships – at least in the initial phase of their return – will sail with reduced capacity.
However, other topics have not been addressed quite as freely, including how popular venues like nightclubs and casinos are treated in terms of social distancing.
More questions than answers
Understandably, cruise lines are reluctant to say too much before details are nailed down. After all, the idea of having to make a reservation to get to the casino – instead of dropping by randomly an hour before dinner, for example – is going to put some cruisers into a frenzy. And since casinos – aside from Disney and Viking, which don't have casinos on board their ships – are major moneymakers for the cruise lines, they will obviously want to proceed with caution.
Then the question arises how exactly such a system would work. In theory, a cruise line could use a player's status within their casino-based loyalty program to determine access. Individuals with a history suggesting they tend to toss a lot of money into the casino may be given more access, much like people staying in high-end suites are often given priority seating in restaurants and shows.
As with many aspects of cruising in the age of social distancing, only time will tell how each line decides how to deal with public spaces in general – and casinos in particular – when sails resume.
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