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WPT Voyage Sailors Guide & History of Poker Cruises

31 Jan 2024
Jonathan Raab 31 Jan 2024
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  • WPT Voyage is first poker full ship takeover for decades
  • Sailor's guide including all the key info about the trip
  • Brief history of poker cruises
On march 31st 2024 The Virgin Valiant Lady sets sail for the 2024 WPT Voyage. It’s something that hasn’t been attempted for a long time, an entire ship takeover. 

It’s an impressive task to fill an entire boat, let alone to run a full series of poker events on deck. Logistics are not the same on a boat as they are for regular poker tournaments:

  • There isn’t likely to be a single huge ballroom that fits 50 tables. If you have that many playing at once the tables are likely to be spread out across a wider part of the ship. 
  • As an operator, you cant just run out and buy something at the last minute, you need to ensure you have brought everything on board from the get go.
  • There’s also port time to consider, as gaming regulations usually mean that you can’t gamble (or play poker) on board when the ship is docked. With just two ports of call on the WPT Voyage, playing time will be maximised, as the ship stays at sea for most of the voyage.
  • Dealing with cash on board can be tricky, given that most cruises operate as close to cashless as they can. While many land based poker tournaments strive to be cashless, they never quite manage it. 

Please Note that we are still awaiting further information about whether cash will be accepted on board for tournaments and cash games, or whether a prefunded poker wallet is required. This article will be updated as soon as this information is known.

Still Time to Qualify

If you haven’t yet secured your berth, there is still time to do so, as WPT Global is running online qualifiers, with winners receiving a package worth $12,400 that includes entry to both the $5,000 WPT main event and the $1,100 WPT Prime Main event. 

New customers of WPT Global can also claim a sign up matched first deposit bonus of up to $1200 by signing up using the promo code NEWBONUS.

WPT Voyage Sailors Guide

As a passenger/player (especially if you have never been on a cruise before) there are a few things you need to know about the 2024 WPT Voyage:

No Playing While in Port

As already mentioned, due to the legality of gaming on board ships, cruises are not permitted to operate their casinos while docked in harbour and can only re-open them once the boat has travelled a few miles away from the port. This means that the WPT Voyage poker schedule has been carefully planned to ensure that games are only in operation when the ship is sailing at sea. Three of the days will be fully at sea and on those days, tournament play starts at 10am. On days when a port call has been made, play will not start until 8pm, after the ship has left the harbour and headed out to sea again. On the plus side, it means that on days where there are shore visits you can have the full cruising experience, without ever having to make a FOMO choice between playing poker or visiting a port.

No Kids

Virgin Cruises is operating the WPT Voyage as an adults only expedition. Leave the kids home alone (with a responsible adult relative of course) and make your way aboard for a minor free journey where you get to be the big kid, on a big boat, n’ all that, with poker and parties, yeah.

Whats Included?

If you purchase (or win via an online qualifier on WPT Global) a berth on board the Virgin Valiant Lady for the WPT Voyage, there’s not much else you will need to spend your money on while on board, apart from poker and alcoholic drinks. 

Food & beverage: Meals are fully included in a choice of over 20 different eateries on board, each offering a different cuisine, theme and style. There’s no large buffets or dining halls, its all small scale casual dining but with a huge choice of options to choose from, at any time of day. Apart from speciality cocktails, pressed juices and premium alcoholic beverages, drinks are also included free of charge. No matter what time of day you want to eat or drink, there will ways be somewhere open and ready to serve you, for no additional cost. There is however a $7 surcharge if you want room service, but this will be waived if you are ordering anything that is a premium food or drink (for which additional costs apply). You’ll need to fund a separate ‘bar tab’ for any drinks or food that is outside the scope of the fully inclusive package. This mainly refers to alcoholic drinks. 

Wifi: Included for no additional cost.

Shore Trips: Included at no extra cost, you can even challenge Vince Van Patten to a game of pickle-ball during the shore trip in the Bahamas.

Golf Tournament: Tournament Director Matt Savage hosts a golf tournament on Grand Cayman, included for no additional cost.

Pool Party at Bimini Beach Club: Also a shore trip, but one not to miss at this exclusive resort location…and of course, it’s included for no additional cost.

Parties and Onboard Entertainment: Included at no additional cost, what else did you expect?

Tips: Also included at no additional cost.

Poker: Not included, pony up your own buy-ins, unless you’ve won a package on WPT Global, which includes seats into the $5,300 WPT Main Event and the $1,100 WPT Prime Main Event.

Key Poker Events on the 2024 WPT Voyage

Despite having limited table time on a couple of the days (due to being in port), there’s an astonishing 20 tournaments on the schedule. These are the key events:

  • $5,000 WPT Main Tour Main Event, guaranteed at $1,000,000 (yeah baby)
  • $1,100 WPT Prime Main Event, guaranteed at $500,000
  • $10,000 High Roller
  • $25,000 Super High Roller
  • $1,100 Pot Limit Omaha

If you’ve won a package then at least one of the above events is included in your trip, but there’s plenty more on the schedule to get stuck into as well and genuinely something for players of all bankrolls, with a $150 nightly event included. There are also further Omaha tournaments, a ladies event, a tag team competition to get involved with, plus at least 20 tables for cash games.

A Brief History of Poker Cruises

The 2024 WPT Voyage is not by any means the first poker cruise to take place. Back at the dawn of online poker, when Party Poker was the biggest site, before PokerStars had risen and before anyone had even thought of opening a site called GG Poker, poker cruises were quite a thing, all the rage one might even say.

1992-2024: CardPlayer Cruises

CardPlayer Cruises has been operating several cruises per year ever since it opened in 1992, but these are not full ship takeovers, they take place on public cruises with other non-poker passengers as well. Play on these types of cruise is more restricted as public cruises make frequent port calls, therefore there’s lots of time when playing poker isn’t permitted. Many poker events have taken place on these over the years, including several linked to poker tours, such as the Rungood Poker Series Cruise of 2022.

However Royal Caribbean, the cruise company that hosts CardPlayer Cruises just recently announced that 2024 will be its last year to offer poker events on board. Unless CardPlayer Cruises can find a replacement operator, it could be the end of their regular poker voyages, which have been running for over 30 years.

2002: The Party Poker Million

It was on a CardPlayer Cruise that the first Party Poker Million took place in 2002, before even the WPT came into existence. It was a Limit Hold’em event and Kathy Liebert scooped the $1m first prize, while Phil Hellmuth had to settle for third place in a field of 139 players.

2003, 2004 & 2005: Party Poker Million II, III & IV as part of the WPT

When the WPT launched, the Party Poker Million II found itself on the schedule of season one. Howard Lederer outlasted a field of 180 players to become the champion. The Party Poker Million was in fact a fixture on the WPT for its first three seasons, with the Party Poker Million III taking place in season two while the Party Poker Million IV was in season three. All these events were on cruise ships and participation soared, with a total of 543 players in the third edition. By the fourth edition in 2005, the main event had reached 735 players, which was an incredible number, considering the buy in was $10,200! All these events were Limit Hold’em, despite No Limit Hold’em being the rising force in poker at the time.

2006 & 2008: Party Poker Million V and VI

No longer a part of the WPT, the Party Poker Million soldiered on as a cruise based event for a couple more years. Indeed the 2006 edition was also busy, with 528 entries in the $10,500 event, which was still a Limit Hold’em event at this time. The final edition was in 2008, by which time the event had been switched to No Limit Hold’em, however interest was waning at this point and participation in the $8,200 buy-in event slumped to 171.

2004, 2006, 2008 & 20011: Ladbrokes Cruises

The Ladbrokes Cruises were also pretty big events back in their day and at least one of them was a full ship takeover. The first of these cruised around the Med, while later editions took place in the Caribbean.

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