How to get free cruises by gaming casino status matches

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a collage of photos of a man and a woman

Free cruises sound like a scam, but it is currently possible to turn elite status earned from a single $95 credit card into months worth of free cruises and free hotel nights if you play your cards right. The best part is that if you follow the steps, you don’t need previous experience with any of this (or any gambling) to make this all happen.

What’s new? This post has been completely overhauled for 2024 with a newly simplified table of contents and explainer sections that summarize steps and costs. We’ve also updated the Princess cruise match link and 2024 offer terms for Holland America and Princess.

A major hat tip to Dave Grossman of MilesTalk.com and his MilesTalk Facebook group because I learned a lot of the relevant Atlantic City details through his posts and group and a big thank-you to members of our own Frequent Miler Insiders Facebook Group that were able to provide some additional insight on the latest additions.

This post is very long. It is not necessarily meant to be read in one sitting but rather to be a complete guide. If you are reading this in email form, you’re going to want to click through to the website for the full experience and easy table of contents navigation.

The short story

If you’d like to parlay $95 into very cheap offers to cruise with several different cruise lines, here is the short story that is explained in far more detail within this post: you can sign up for a credit card that offers hotel elite status as a card benefit, match that hotel elite status to casino elite status, and then turn that casino elite status into free cruises with several different cruise lines. Again, this post has more detail about the entire process, but in short you need to:

  1. Apply for the Wyndham Earner Business credit card. This gives you Wyndham Rewards Diamond status.
  2. Match Wyndham Rewards Diamond status to Caesars Diamond status (this can be done online).
  3. Submit a screen shot of your Caesars Diamond status to Carnival, Princess, and Holland America cruise lines in order to get free cruise offers with those lines.
  4. If you want more, you’ll need to go to Atlantic City in person to execute two more matches (all free, but you have to do it in person in Atlantic City). You’ll match Caesars Diamond to Hard Rock Icon at Hard Rock Atlantic City and then match Hard Rock Icon to Ocean Prime at Ocean Resort Atlantic City.
  5. One of the benefits of Ocean Prime is a free cruise of up to 10 nights anywhere in the world on MSC. Depending on when you execute this match, you may be able to cruise two times.

My family has now taken 6 cruises in the past 16 months thanks to this train that has continued to chug along and we’ve got another scheduled later this year all thanks to the processes covered in this post (and some past opportunities that we previously included here but which subsequently ended).

I should add that if you have other very high-tier casino elite status, you could possibly accomplish the steps in this post without starting at the Wyndham Earner Business credit card and Caesars Rewards. For instance, it is possible to accomplish a lot of the same things outlined in this post with MGM Gold status instead of Caesars Diamond status. Unfortunately, there is no longer an easy path to MGM Gold status like there is with Caesars Diamond (MGM is currently offering a status challenge to MGM Gold, but the requirements are quite high both in terms of the competing status you need and then earnings required to keep Gold status as compared to the path to easy Caesars Diamond outlined in this post).

Are “free” cruises really free?

If this sounds too good to be true and you’re looking for a catch, it’s that even a “free” cruise is not totally without cost — and in some cases it can be better to think of these “free” cruise offers as very deeply discounted cruises (far cheaper than you’d be able to book them in any other way).

Here’s what I mean: some free cruise offers require you to pay port taxes. Depending on the destinations you choose, port taxes can range from less than $100 per passenger to hundreds of dollars per passenger. However, other free cruise offers waive port taxes along with the cruise fare.

Most of the free cruise offers require you to pay a deposit of some sort that you will receive back as an onboard credit (i.e. pay $100 per passenger now and get $100 in onboard credit or casino free play later). It can be relatively easy to get this money back, but you typically need to lay out some cash for a deposit.

Even if you cruise for free (or close to it), you’ll still have to pay what some lines call “gratuities” and others call “hotel service charges”. The exact amount varies, but figure on around $15 per person per night for these automatically-billed charges (sometimes less for children).

Finally, most “free” cruise offers are based on double occupancy. You’ll probably need to pay more if you want to bring a couple of extra cabin mates / kids.

If that all sounds reasonable enough, read on for details about how to do it.

How to get free cruises by gaming casino status matches

Get the Wyndham Earner Business Credit Card for Wyndham Diamond status

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The path to free cruises begins with an unlikely starting point: Wyndham Rewards. Yes, Wyndham Rewards is a hotel loyalty program. And yes, it is the loyalty program of mostly budget brands like Days Inn, Travelodge, Super 8 and more brands that you probably wouldn’t associate with cruising the high seas for free. Surprising as it may seem, we often find the biggest wins can be found in places where those not “in the know” wouldn’t expect to find them.

To get free cruises, you’ll first sign up for a Wyndham Rewards account at this link (this is their hotel loyalty account; it’s free to join). You want this loyalty account number so that you can enter it on the credit card application for the Wyndham Earner Business card. There is a line in the application for your Wyndham Rewards number; if you don’t enter a Wyndham Rewards number, the system will generate one for you — but then you’ll be stuck waiting a couple of weeks for the card to arrive and trying to set up an online account for an existing membership number, all of which is going to be slow and unintuitive. Save yourself some time and sign up for Wyndham Rewards first.

The next step is applying for the Wyndham Rewards Earner Business Credit Card (find more info and a link to apply on that page). This is a business credit card, so you’ll need to have a business, but that is a lot easier than it sounds. Almost any type of side hustle can be considered a business — selling stuff now and then on Facebook marketplace or eBay, writing a book, writing a blog that you hope to monetize with ads eventually, babysitting, etc. Even if you aren’t yet making money from said side hustle, you can potentially qualify for a business credit card without needing to do any paperwork to register a business in most cases.

If your business is something small like a blog that doesn’t yet have ads or selling stuff on eBay or Facebook where you’re making a very small amount of money, you would probably operate that as a sole proprietorship — a business where you are the business, which requires no special paperwork in most cases. In that case, you’d choose “sole proprietorship” for the business type and use your own personal name as the business name and your social security number as the tax ID. It’s all quite easy. You can find more information and a link to apply for the Wyndham Earner business card on our card page. Note that we do not earn any affiliate commission on this card, it’s just a great deal for a number of reasons (we talked extensively about it on a podcast episode).

As a side note, if you apply for the card and earn the welcome bonus, it is worth mentioning that the points can not only be used to stay in Wyndham hotels but also used through Wyndham’s vacation rental partnerships like the one they have with Vacasa, so you’ll get more than just free cruises with this card.

Match Wyndham Diamond status to Caesars Diamond

Once you have the Wyndham Earner Business Card, your Wyndham Rewards account status will update to Wyndham Diamond status (this won’t be instant upon approval, but it should update to Diamond within about a week).

Once you have Wyndham Diamond status, you go to this link and click the button that says “I am a Wyndham Rewards member, match my status” to get matched to Caesars Diamond status.

a screenshot of a computer

 

Recently, the match to Caesars Diamond has been taking about 3 weeks, though in the past it took about a week. If it doesn’t update within two weeks, it can be worth emailing Wyndham Rewards by using the email form found on this page explaining that you submitted for the match and your Caesars status hasn’t yet updated. You’ll likely see your status update within a couple of days after emailing. See this post for more detail about emailing Wyndham Rewards.

Once you have Caesars Diamond status, click here to jump to the next relevant section of this post.

I will add that Caesars Diamond comes with a few benefits beyond free cruises: Diamond members pay no resort fees and sometimes get offers for free rooms in Las Vegas for close-in stays.

Use Caesars Diamond to get free cruises

Caesars Diamond for a free Carnival cruise (could be up to 30 nights long)

a man taking a selfie on a cruise ship

 

Caesars Diamond status could easily get you 7 nights or more onboard with Carnival cruise lines. Here’s how it works.

Once you have Caesars Diamond status, you need to submit a screen shot of your Caesars Diamond status to Carnival via the Carnival Fun Match link. The form requires you to submit a picture of the front and back of your Caesars Rewards card, but if you only have the Digital card, we’ve had success submitting the same screen shot of our online account as shown below here for both the “front” and “back” of the card.

a screenshot of a website
When you log in on desktop, you can expand the menu in the top right so you can get a picture showing name, account number (blacked out above), tier (in the middle of the screen), and expiration date (under where it says “Diamond”).

Carnival tends to initially send an offer for something like $500 off — just be patient and wait for a free cruise offer to arrive as they will likely come soon enough.

My wife and I both initially received offers for free interior rooms, but after a couple of weeks we started receiving offers for free balcony staterooms (a family member submitted the Carnival match in mid January 2024 and got a free cruise offer about a month later). Some have waited months for the free cruise offers to show up and some haven’t received them at all, but be sure to log in to your Carnival account periodically to check your offers. These certainly can be a great deal.

If you have done this match and have not received a free cruise offer, try updating your online profile. See this post for more information: Trouble with the Carnival Fun Match? Here’s a potential solution.

The particularly notable thing about those offers is that they have been valid on sailings in the Caribbean, to Alaska, around Europe (I took a 10-night cruise to the Greek isles and Turkey with this offer – read my impressions here), and even on some Transatlantic and Transpacific sailings as long as 30 nights. Here’s an example of a 22-night cruise from Brisbane, Australia to Seattle that I seriously considered:

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How much does the free Carnival cruise cost?

I’ve covered the total costs of the Carnival deal before. The “free” cruise offer takes out the cruise fare, but with Carnival you still pay costs like taxes and daily gratuities. In short, you’ll pay:

  • $100 nonrefundable deposit per passenger that you get back as a $100 casino free play and/or onboard credit (depending on your offer) per passenger up to $200 per cabin in onboard credit / free play.
  • Port taxes for each guest (which range based on ports — my 10-night European cruise came with about $90 per person in taxes, but some itineraries can be $200-$300 per person in taxes depending on where you go)
  • An extra person supplement for more than 2 passengers (typically $200-$300 each for the 3rd and 4th passengers, but YMMV)
  • Daily gratuities of $16 per person per day for standard cabins (it costs more for suites).
  • Any costs incurred onboard like alcoholic drinks (except when playing in the casino) and any upgraded dining options you choose

This still works out to be a killer deal in many cases. For instance, my 10-night Carnival cruise to the Greek Islands, Turkey, Sicily, and Naples would have cost about $680 for two people and in my case it came with $200 in onboard credit and $200 given to us in cash as “free play” money in the casino. And we used a couple of credit cards with offers for $40 back on $100 or more with Carnival to pay the initial $680 (over separate payments), so in reality we paid less than $680 for the first two passengers. After the onboard credit and free play it was awfully close to nothing for the first two passengers (because we brought our kids, it ended up costing a bit more as our two extra passengers were $279 each + port taxes).

Circling back to that specific Carnival Luminosa offer on the transpacific cruise pictured above, it would have come to $588 for two people plus $638 in gratuities for a total of $1,126.40 for a 22-night cruise that came with onboard credit to boot.

a screenshot of a cruise ship

That cruise is an outlier in terms of value — and as you can see, my offer for that cruise was only for an interior room. When I initially got the free balcony offer, I had the same pricing for a balcony cabin.

Once you get the free cruise offer in your email, you need to know that availability ebbs and flows. While the email offer cites an expiration date, I saw the same cruise offers come and go multiple times — each month, the offer expired and then a week or two later, I received another identical free cruise offer for a year from the date when we first received the free balcony cabin offer. See How to cruise for free (or close to it) with Royal Caribbean and Carnival for more detail.

Caesars Diamond to a 12-night Holland America free cruise (sail through April 6, 2025)

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Holland America has been offering a match program whereby they have been offering many readers with Caesars Diamond status a complimentary interior cabin and $100 in freeplay with drinks for 2 while playing in the casino on eligible sailings to Alaska, Mexico, Caribbean, Coastal, and Canada/New England on 2023 sailings. We wrote about this match here. You can submit your request for this match here. The offer is valid for sailings up to 12 nights (though land & sea cruises are excluded) through April 5, 2024, though reports we’ve received from readers in the comments have indicated that while the offer states up to 12 nights, in practice some 14-night sailings also qualify.

My wife submitted a screen shot from her Caesars account that showed her name and Caesars Diamond status and number and she received the complimentary cruise offer within a few hours, but now most people report that it takes a couple of weeks to receive the offer.

a screenshot of a website
When you log in on desktop, you can expand the menu in the top right so you can get a picture showing name, account number (blacked out above), tier (in the middle of the screen), and expiration date (under where it says “Diamond”).

Note that those who have recently sailed with Carnival or Holland America and not gambled much may not qualify for the free cruise offer.

Caesars Diamond to a free Princess cruise (up to 11 nights, sail within one year from offer date)

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Princess cruises is offering a match that looks identical to the Holland America match above. Both cruise lines are owned by Carnival and their match submission systems seem to be the same. You can submit your request for this match here.

Note that if you intend to do the matching in Atlantic City that is covered later in this post, it might be worth holding off on the Princess match until after you’ve picked up status with Hard Rock and Ocean. Reader Andrew in the comments reports receiving an offer for a complimentary balcony cabin valid on eligible sailings to Europe, Caribbean, Alaska, Mexico and Canada valid for one year from offer date (with some flexibility as per his linked comment). He notes having submitted MSC Diamond (a match to that is covered later in this post), Hard Rock Rock Royalty/Icon (also covered later in this post) and expired Ocean Prime (also covered later in this post). Reader Josh reports receiving a balcony offer after submitting a copy of a Carnival balcony offer.

My wife and I both tried submitting for this offer last year (She submitted Caesars Diamond and I submitted Ocean Prime and MGM Gold) and we each only received an offer for up to $200 in free play per person for the 1st and 2nd guest only “Based on status with [their] sister brands”. I interpret that to mean that I didn’t gamble enough on Carnival for Princess to want to give me a free cruise, but it might be worth submitting this if you haven’t cruised with Carnival or Holland America within the past year or two. Readers have had success with this match with just Caesars Diamond status, but I think that to get a balcony cabin you may need some of the other statuses available through further matching (or it might make sense to submit a copy of your Carnival complimentary balcony cabin offer if you have it).

Caesars Diamond to get free MSC cruises (and more) in Atlantic City

If you live within a drivable distance of Atlantic City or have plans or can make plans to visit, it is possible to get another free cruise or two with MSC as well as elite status that can be helpful with the Princess / Holland America matches covered above. Here’s what you need to do.

Print your physical Caesars Diamond card

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This step is simple: most Caesars casinos, like Caesars Palace Atlantic City, have kiosk machines near the Caesars Rewards desk where you can enter your driver’s license and the machine will print a physical copy of your Caesars Diamond card. You can alternatively go to a Caesars Rewards desk to do this (there is a separate line entrance for Diamond members).

You’ll need the physical card to execute matches at Hard Rock and Ocean. If you have driven to Caesars Palace, note that you’ll get parking for free by showing your Caesars Diamond card on the way out.

Match Caesars Diamond to Hard Rock Icon

a man taking a selfie in a casino

Hard Rock Atlantic City will match Caesars Diamond to Hard Rock Icon status (formerly Rock Royalty). Note that as of 2024, this match is said to be once per lifetime. Whereas in the past people were able to match again a year after an initial match, reports since the beginning of 2024 indicate that Hard Rock is now treating this as a one-time offer, so you’ll likely only be able to do this if you have not matched at Hard Rock before.

The match process is easy: Simply go to the Unity Rewards desk and tell them that you have Caesars Diamond status and would like to sign up for Unity Rewards if they can match your status. They will match you and print an “Icon” card. In the past, they have also issued free play credit on your account, but amounts have varied. If they do issue you free play, you can go to a machine in the casino, enter your card and pin, load the promotional credit, and then after you’ve spun enough times to wager the promotional credit you can cash out any remaining money. For instance, if they give you $50 in free play and you sit at a machine where you bet $1 per spin, you’ll be able to cash out any money left after 50  spins. You have to keep track of the spins yourself.

You will also get an offer to book 2 free nights at Hard Rock Atlantic City as part of the match.

Note that Hard Rock charges for parking upon arrival on the way in to the parking garage. Readers have pointed out that the smart play here is to valet park as you would pay for that when picking the car up — and by then, you’ll have Hard Rock Icon status and it will be complimentary.

Your next stop will be Ocean Casino.

Match Hard Rock Icon to Ocean Prime for a Free MSC Cruise and more

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At the time of writing, Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City is still matching Hard Rock Icon members to Ocean Prime status. That is highly desirable because Ocean Prime comes with a slew of valuable benefits, one of which is a free cruise on MSC that is the closest to “free” of any of the offers in this post since you do not even pay port taxes for the Ocean Prime MSC cruise offer.

Just like with Hard Rock, you’ll head to the players club (Ocean Rewards) desk at Ocean Casino Resort and say that you’d like to join if they can match your Hard Rock status.

This match is something of a goldmine because Ocean Prime has a number of valuable benefits:

  • Free 2-night stay at Ocean Casino Resort (valid Sunday through Thursday). You can book this after 72 hours have passed since matching.
  • Free 2-night stay at Resorts World Las Vegas, which comes with a $100 dining credit and $100 free play credit. This can be booked starting on the 15th of the month following the month in which you match. My wife and I used this benefit in January 2024 to stay for free on a weekend when cash rates would have been north of $800 for two nights. This benefit was very easy.
  • Free pass to the Avila Lounge at Ocean Casino Resort (a buffet with carved prime rib, full bar, etc). This pass is valid for 2 guests and it is valid for 72 hours after matching.
  • Free cruise of up to 10 nights anywhere in the world on MSC in an ocean view room for two people. You pay no port taxes, just a $400 deposit that you get back as a $400 onboard credit. You will pay gratuities of $10-$15 per person per day (less for children). This can be booked starting on the 15th of the month following the month in which you match. I wrote about our experience booking this offer here. It is worth reading that post for much more information as this offer seems highly flexible. Current members must book and sail by 7/1/24.

Note: Ocean Prime status lasts until June 30th, so whenever you match, your status will be set to expire on June 30th. However, in 2023, members who matched after March 1st automatically had their Ocean Prime status extended to June of the following calendar year (the card initially printed with a June 30, 2023 expiration date, but on July 1st status was renewed through June 30, 2024). We don’t yet know whether Ocean will offer the same automatic extension this year, but we will update here when we know.

If Ocean once again offers the automatic extension for those who match after March 1st, it should be possible to possible to get two free MSC cruises. Here’s how: your initial card will show an expiration date of June 30, 2024. You should be able to book a free cruise before that expires. Then, assuming that Ocean once again extends status, you’ll get a full year of Ocean Prime status from July 1, 2024 to June 30, 2025 and you should be able to cruise again one time during that period.

I covered my experiences so far with a free MSC cruise in Europe and another in the Caribbean. As mentioned above, the free MSC cruise is very nearly free since you pay no port taxes. You’ll pay a $400 deposit that you get back as an onboard credit. That credit can be applied toward onboard purchases, gratuities, or potentially even when loading a casino slot machine and charging it to your room folio. You can simply cash out from the machine as soon as you get tired of losing money. Beyond that deposit, you’ll only need to pay “hotel service charges” (the MSC name for gratuities). Note that you may need to pay a $59 fee for the “Fantastica” experience with MSC if there aren’t many cabins left on your cruise and/or you want to select your cabin number. Additional passengers beyond two cost $359 each for itineraries of 7 nights or longer.

We’ve had conflicting reports on blackout dates for the MSC cruise offer. Some phone agents claim that certain periods are “blacked out” and cost an additional $250 per passenger, but if you simply hang up and call again the next agent may not assess that fee. Generally speaking, if a cabin is available for sale, it seems to be available to be booked with this offer. You can upgrade to a balcony or suite for additional fees.

Note that Ocean Prime will match your status a second time, but not until 18 months have passed with no activity in your Ocean account. You’ll need to wait 18 months from your previous match or 18 months from your most recent time playing at Ocean Casino Resort to try matching again.

Bonus match: Hyatt, Hilton or Marriott to MSC Diamond

If you’re going to sail with MSC and you have Hyatt Globalist, Hilton Diamond, or Marriott Platinum status, you can do a status match with MSC. This can be worth it because if you get matched to MSC Diamond status, you’ll get a complimentary specialty dinner for 2 for one night, a bottle of sparkling wine, a cocktail reception with crew, and some other goodies. I got a bottle of prosecco, a plate of macarons, and some dark chocolate on my MSC cruise. Status match at this link.

Other matching benefits: Free stay at Atlantis, free $100 dinner, and more

Caesars Diamond to free 4-night stay at Atlantis Bahamas

a large building next to a body of water

One of the benefits of Caesars Diamond status is a complimentary stay at Atlantis in the Bahamas. What you get depends on when you go.

First of all, if you go during March, April, or July, you only get a Buy 2 nights, Get 2 nights free deal in The Coral Tower.

If you go during February, June, August, November, or December, you get a complimentary 4-night stay in The Coral Tower and $100 in slot free play. If you go in January, May, September, or October, you get a complimentary 5-night stay in The Coral Tower and $150 in free slot play.

Note that you will still pay the resort fee, which I believe comes to $66 per night. Food on-property is said to be quite expensive, so think of this has a highly discounted stay rather than free, but also much less than the retail price. See this MilesTalk post for more detail.

Caesars Diamond $100 Celebration Dinner

a hand holding a receipt

One of the benefits of Caesars Diamond status is a Diamond “celebration dinner”, which is a $100 dining credit that can be used at select restaurants at Caesars properties.

I’ve both written about this benefit and used it in Las Vegas years ago (See: Caesars Diamond Celebration Dinner: Easy to use and worth the match) and I recently checked up on it in Atlantic City and found that there are quite a few options there for the dinner. My wife and I both have Caesars Diamond status and we were able to verify that we have the Diamond Celebration dinners loaded to our accounts, so at some point we’ll enjoy a nice $200 dinner thanks to Caesars Diamond status.

a display of meat on a display
Steaks at Gordon Ramsay Steak at Paris Las Vegas, where we dined for nearly free with our Diamond Celebration dinner years ago.

Note that this works at some Caesars properties outside of Atlantic City and Las Vegas also, so it’s worth looking around if you’ll be visiting another city with a Caesars property.

Free nights in Atlantic City

As noted above, the matches outlined from Caesars come with some free night benefits:

  • New Hard Rock Icon members can book a complimentary 2-night stay at Hard Rock Atlantic City pending availability (a report last year indicated that this might also work at Hard Rock Seminole Casino in Florida, but YMMV) that must be booked within 90 days of singing up. Weekends apparently can be available, though you’ll probably need to book far in advance.
  • New Ocean Prime members can book a complimentary 2-night stay at Ocean Casino Resort from Sunday through Thursday (pending availability).

Free nights in Las Vegas

If you have matched to Ocean Prime, you can stay at Resorts World for free.

  • Ocean Prime members can book a complimentary 2-night stay at Resorts World Las Vegas (valid at Hilton Las Vegas or Conrad Las Vegas) with a $100 dining credit and $100 FreePlay credit. I reviewed my experience with this benefit here.

If you only have Caesars Diamond status, it can be worth logging in to your Caesars account to look for hotel room prices at Caesars properties in Las Vegas / Atlantic City. We sometimes see complimentary room offers for close-in bookings (and/or very highly discounted rates). Remember that Caesars Diamond members do not pay resort fees.

Frequently Asked Questions about free cruises from casino status matches

Why do casinos offer matching programs and things like free cruises and stays at other casinos?

a hand holding a pair of cards

Casinos all want to draw in high roller gamblers, so they offer status matches to try to draw high rollers away from competitors in the same way that airlines compete for high-value customers with status matches.

Similarly, cruise lines are after high-rolling gamblers to gamble in their onboard casinos. Offering free cruise benefits to high-tier members of land-based casino loyalty programs increases their odds of drawing in more money in their casinos. Cross-marketing with casinos in other states offers a reason for gamblers to be loyal in their home markets since it will give them a benefit when they inevitably visit Las Vegas.

As is the case with many of the games we play, we can leverage credit cards and loyalty programs to get outsized value. In this case, thanks to the ability to match statuses between casinos, we can appear to be like a high-roller gambler that casinos and cruise lines covet.

Can I use my free cruise offer to book a cruise for someone else?

We’ve had many readers ask whether they can use one of these free cruise matches to book a cruise for their parents / siblings / friends, etc. The answer is no. Consider the previous question about why cruise lines offer these free cruises: the cruise line casino is not in the business of giving away free cruises, they are in the business of attracting gamblers that they think will lose more in the casino than the cost of the cruise. Because you have casino elite status, they think you are that type of gambler, so they are offering you a free cruise, not your mother/sister/cousin/aunt/etc. That said, if your mother/sister/cousin/aunt would like to cruise for free, send them this post and they can follow the steps to get a free cruise offer, too! We’ve helped family members follow the steps in this post for family trips.

Can a couple both follow these steps together?

Yes! My wife and I have both done nearly all of the matches in this post and doubled our free cruise offers (in one case, we both booked cabins on the same cruise to avoid paying extra for our kids — we simply made one the second passenger in my cabin and the other the second passenger in my wife’s cabin.

It is entirely possible for both partners to each get a Wyndham Earner Business credit card and complete the matching in this post. However, note that it will be much harder or maybe not possible to get complimentary cruise offers if you have cruised recently and not gambled much.

Therefore, I strongly advise that both partners complete the match sequence at the same time. If you complete the matches and both sail together under the free cruise offers for Player 1 before Player 2 submits match requests, it is unlikely that Player 2 will receive free cruise offers since they will have recently cruised with each of the cruise lines. Instead, both partners should get the Wyndham Earner Business credit card and submit for all of the matches before cruising.

Note that Carnival, Holland America, and Princess are all under the same ownership, so once you cruise with Carnival you may not be able to get an offer from Holland America (assuming that you didn’t gamble much), so get your Holland America and Princess matches in before you cruise with Carnival and vice versa.

The Ocean Prime MSC offer is an exception here in that the complimentary MSC cruise is simply a benefit of Ocean Prime status that can be repeated if you get Ocean Prime status again and/or you will still get that benefit even if you have recently sailed with MSC.

How much do the free cruises cost?

In summary, here’s what you’ll pay for the “free” cruises covered in this post:

  • Carnival (balcony cabin): $100 deposit per passenger + port taxes (varies from less than $100 to hundreds) + daily gratuities (figure on around $15 per day). You’ll get back $100 per passenger up to $200 as onboard credit and/or free play. Beyond two passengers, you’ll pay around $279 per additional passenger (plus port taxes and gratuities.
  • Holland America (interior cabin): $100 deposit per passenger + port taxes (varies from less than $100 to hundreds) + daily gratuities (figure on around $15 per day). You’ll get back $100 per passenger up to $200 as onboard credit and/or free play. Beyond two passengers, you’ll pay around $279 per additional passenger (plus port taxes and gratuities. It is possible to upgrade to a balcony for around $800 (give or take depending on your itinerary).
  • Princess Cruises (possible balcony cabin): $100 deposit per passenger + port taxes (varies from less than $100 to hundreds) + daily gratuities (figure on around $15 per day). You’ll get back $100 per passenger up to $200 as onboard credit and/or free play. Beyond two passengers, you’ll pay around $279 per additional passenger (plus port taxes and gratuities.
  • MSC (ocean view cabin): $400 deposit that you get back as a $400 onboard credit + gratuities (around $10-$15 per day per adult or about half that per child). No port taxes on the MSC cruises. Note that it is possible to pay a fee to upgrade to a balcony cabin (I recall around $850) or even to Yacht Club (I’ve heard of rates around $1500 for this, but YMMV).

Can I match status online?

You can match Wyndham Rewards Diamond to Caesars Diamond online and you can then submit online for the Carnival, Holland America, and Princess offers. For the Atlantic City matching, which leads to the MSC cruises, you’ll need to travel to Atlantic City.

Do I have to pay gratuities?

Gratuities are not included in any of the cruise match offers. Some readers have reported that it is possible to reduce or remove gratuities onboard, but I haven’t and wouldn’t ask for that since I think it is reasonable to pay gratuities.

Can I cash out the onboard credit?

Strictly speaking, the onboard credit you receive with some of the offers mentioned in this post is not refundable. If you didn’t use the credit, you would expect to lose it.

That said, I’ve had good luck using my onboard credit in the casino by going to a slot machine and charging that load to my room folio. While some cruise lines add a 3-5% fee to get chips at a table game and charge it to your room, I have not yet seen any such fee when loading a slot machine and charging it to my cabin. There is no minimum amount of time to play the machines before you decide to cash out whatever you have loaded.

Will I be pressured to gamble?

Not at all. Obviously the cruise line hopes that you gamble, but I haven’t been pressured at all by anyone with any of the cruise lines or questioned about why I wasn’t gambling more. In fact, if I didn’t know better, I wouldn’t think that anyone on board knew that I was there on a complimentary casino offer.

If you have a gambling problem, you naturally may be tempted with a casino on board (and with the casino matching necessary), so consider that and avoid this while process if you are likely to gamble heavily.

How much do I need to gamble to get more free cruise offers?

The answer to this question likely varies considerably from one cruise line to another and I don’t know any magic numbers here.

On my Carnival cruise, I probably played 2-3 hours of table games at a sitting (like Blackjack, Let It Ride, or Ultimate Texas Hold ’em) gambling around $10 per hand (maybe $12 or $15 per hand at times when I was winning) and I played several of the nights on my cruise (I can’t recall exactly how many). I continue to get free offers, but typically only for interior cabins (though my recent offers have been to book complimentary interior cabins on up to 3 separate cruises).

I haven’t continued to receive free offers from other cruise lines (with similar play), though I have received discounted offers from Holland America. MSC sends some discounted cruise offers, but it is unclear to me which offers are targeted and how they compare to public offers. Royal Caribbean has sent me offers that seem similar to public ones (they no longer have a free cruise match as theirs expired in early 2023 and they haven’t brought it back).

Bottom line

This resource is obviously very long, but this illustrates why I love this game: if you learn how to play it, you can vacation like a high-roller for very low-roller stakes. The current matching opportunities make for a boatload (or several boatloads) of free nights in casino hotels and on cruise lines. The average person would be hard-pressed to find the vacation time to accommodate all of the free matching offers that can sprout from a single $95 credit card, though note that in some cases you may be able to book further out (the Carnival offer, for example, was good for cruises about a year out in my experience). If you are retired or work from home and you’re playing the game in 2-player mode, imagine doubling everything in this post. While I don’t know that I’ll love every free stay or cruise, that’s a double-down that I can get behind.

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Kadd

So I’m thinking of booking an MSC cruise, and I’d like to hear from anyone who has taken advantage of the offer how strict the booking agents are about the sail dates. The itineraries I really like are all in September 2025, and the Terms and Conditions say sail by June 30. That said, it sounds like Holland America has been flexible, and like some fees are up to the discretion of the MSC booking agent.

Kadd

Whoops. Double posted. Nick responded here if anyone else is interested:

https://frequentmiler.com/two-more-free-msc-cruises-booked-lessons-learned/#comment-2399934

Sarah

Just matched Wyndham Diamond to Caesars. I can’t cruise until March 2025 at the earliest (maybe May/June 2025), so should I hold off on doing the Carnival match for a few months, since it sounds like you have to sail within 12 months of receipt of the cruise offer and the offers sound like they trail off after some months? thanks for any suggestions!

James

I was wondering if these free cruise offers can be booked by someone traveling solo, or do you have to have a second person in the cabin. Thanks!

Kadd

I’ve done two of these solo, and have more booked. For carninal you’ll need to pay $200 instead of $100 for the cruise (returned to you as a credit). But you’re only paying tips and port taxes for one person. Most of these cruises have cost me 300-400 + tips for the entire 8-12 night cruise, which is an excellent value for a solo traveller.

James

Thanks Kadd

Collin

I have the Wyndham Earner Business Barclays Visa Card and status matched the Wyndham Diamond status to Caesar’s Diamond status. I have then since submitted it to Princess and Holland American cruise lines via their Casino Tier Match Program.

However, I am getting the following request, “To proceed with the offer based on your Diamond Caesars Rewards tier, kindly provide a picture of the casino’s offer for a free hotel stateroom, or any relevant documentation from other casinos.”

I do not have a free stay offer and don’t know what I can submit to satisfy this request? Do you have any suggestions on what I can submit to them?

Marta

I would try to submit to Carnival first. If you get an offer, then submit it to others.

Phillip

Sharing a data point. P2 matched to Princess Cruises from Oceans Prime and expired MGM Gold and Hard Rock. Received a free 3-11 day balcony room. Can be used on any cruise in Caribbean, Alaska, Europe, New England/Canada or CA coast. We have to book it within 30 days and sail within the next 12 months.

Andrew

Do we have any insight if we can match Ocean Prime back to Hard Rock Icon? I still have Ocean Prime status but Hard Rock status expired 2/29. Want to match back before my Prime status ends in June. Note: I did match Hard Rock to Ocean in March 2023.

Fabian

I just booked my cruise on the Sun Princess on a Comp. Suite.
Will it really only the taxes and the on board credit that we pay?

Kadd

I just sailed with Princess. Paid 200+Port fees. Charged $16 tips per day onboard. That’s it. 10 day cruise came to under $500. Whole trip was ~$1500. (all numbers per person)

Michael

Seems like there’s another free cruise opportunity we can add to the list:

Wynn is offering a match until May 31. Caesars Diamond will match to Wynn Platinum, which will get you a free Holland America cruise for two.*

*two stays at Wynn/Encore required to be eligible for the free cruise.

John

DP: I submitted my Ocean Prime and Hard Rock Icon cards to Holland. They got back to me the next day with an interior cabin offer but no free play. I called and booked an interior cabin for one, paying only port fees and taxes for one person.

I am curious if anyone else has been able to book a solo cruise on other cruise lines with a casino match offer. (without single supplement or other fees associated with being a solo cruiser)

Roxanne

My daughter booked and went on a single on Princess in the Caribbean recently with a casino match offer.

John

Thank you!

Roxanne

She was able to book a single on MSC with Oceans offer no single supplement but then added later 2 family members…

Michael

Will any of these offers stack with a “kids sail free” promotion?

Jared

Hey does anyone have direct experience with these Cruise lines not offering to P2 if they have cruised with P1? I received offers for each cruise line with P1 and I plan to add P2 to the cruise. My initial plan was to have P2 get all of these cards after the free cruise on P1’s account. I know the article recommends to do everything beforehand, but this way, if it works, I can extend the timeframe and flexibility to use the cruises. Please let me know. Thanks!

JFM

There have been several recent DPs indicating that before offering a free cruise, Carnival, Holland America and Princess now ask for proof of cruise offers from other casinos or cruise lines. Would the MSC cruise offered through Ocean Prime satisfy that request?

TYA

This is only is you’re submitting Caesar’s Diamond for the casino match.

If you have Ocean Prime & the MSC free cruise offer, you should also have Rock Royalty (or Icon). The Rock Royalty card will get you a free ocean view cabin on Holland America (valid for qualifying cruises until April 2025), and a free balcony cabin on Princess (valid for qualifying cruises 1 year from your offer date). I did the match the middle of Feb, before my Rock Royalty card expired (Feb 29, 2024). The Holland America person said that it was my Rock Royalty card that got me the offer, and not the Ocean Prime card. I only submitted the Rock Royalty card to Princess.

john

I sent an email to Holland yesterday with my Hard Rock Icon and Ocean Prime card. They got back to me today with an interior cabin offer. No mention of free play or an expiration date

Caleb

I received this follow up after applying for the Holland America one:

“As a Caesar’s Diamond member, we will require additional support for further evaluation. Please provide us with a casino offer providing your Diamond status with Caesars and/or any additional loyalty status at another land-based or cruise line casino property. Thank you!”

After following up for clarification:

“We will need proof of complimentary offers at Caesars properties that reflect your Diamond status. Thank you!”

I applied at the same time for Carnival, should I wait until offers from Carnival come through? Or is there another decent way to provide them with this?

Matt

If you status match now for the free MSC cruise my understanding is that it will be extended through summer of ’25. You would need to pick up a new card after July 1 but do you need an actual card to book the MSC cruise? For folks that have done this before is anything on the card relevant or do you just need the status?

Justin Root of Good

I think just the status. No need to go back to AC in July to get the new Ocean card. If you don’t get extended to summer ’25 automatically, just call Ocean’s players club to have them update it in the system.

john

The brochure confirms this. Users who tier match from 3/1/24 to 6/30/24 will automatically have their tier status extended to 6/30/25.

You bring up a great point in not needing to pick up the new card to book the cruise and the 2 nights at RW vegas

Kadd

Is it possible to book a free night in AC per if you’ve matched to Caesar’s Diamond from Wyndham? I see this benefit listed:

One free night in Atlantic City, Lake Tahoe, Las Vegas, Laughlin or Reno for every 5,000 Tier Credits earned in 2024, up to seven nights

I can’t find any info on how to book it, or if I need to actually gamble to earn tier credits to get it. It would be nice to do the Hard Rock and Oceans matches during a free stay, but I have no idea if it’s possilbe or how to go about.

John

I am Caesars Diamond by way of Wyndham and I got 2 free nights at AC from Caesars recently. I do bet on their sportsbook but not a lot. Maybe check your offers on caesars website or see if you are opted in to receive marketing emails?

Daffy

That’s an earned benefit. Since you matched, you didn’t earn any tier credits and wouldn’t be eligible for any free nights under that offer. This doesn’t mean Caesar’s won’t give you heavily discounted or free stays in AC, but likely you’ll pay a lower rate with no resort fee.