Established in 1733 on the Savannah River, the city of Savannah is the oldest city in Georgia and played an important role during the American Civil War. Today, Savannah is a popular tourist destination, including riverboat gambling cruises. While Georgia has strict laws on gambling, the boats head a few miles into international waters where it's legal to gamble. There were once a number of riverboats offering casino cruises out of Savannah, but most have closed their doors as they didn't prove to be lucrative ventures.
Emerald Princess Casino
The Emerald Princess cruise ship is the only casino cruise ship left in the Savannah area. The boat itself is 200 feet long and has four fun-filled decks. Once you're in open international waters, they will open the casino portion. There are two gambling decks in the casino with:
- 220 slots
- 12 blackjack tables
- 2 Emerald Princess stud poker tables
- 6 Texas hold'em tables
- 2 roulette wheels
- A craps table
Dining is available on the Bistro Deck and it's first come, first served. Leave your name with the host to be called when a table becomes available. There is a fully stocked bar with experienced bartenders waiting to serve you while onboard.
There is an age limit of 18 to be on board the ship and you must be at least 21 years or older to consume alcohol. Be sure you bring your ID; otherwise, you won't be allowed to board.
If you're interested in group activities, there is a cruise director on the ship that will help organize additional activities like EZ Money, Bingo, and Bonanza Bingo.
Tickets and Schedule
Most cruises are $10 per person and the Emerald Princess Casino sails Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday 7pm to midnight; Friday and Saturday 11am to 4pm and 7pm to 1am; and Sunday 1pm to 6pm.
Round-trip transportation is available to and from the Emerald Princess Casino through the Savannah Limousine service if needed. Inquire as to rates.
Directions and Location
The Emerald Princess is located at One Emerald Princess Drive, at the southern end of the Sidney Lanier Bridge. If you're coming from I-95:
- Get off at exit 29
- Turn onto US-17 North
- Follow for 5.4 miles
- Make a right onto Jekyll Causeway, or GA-520 East, and then an immediate left onto Emerald Princess Drive
The boat sits near Jekyll Island State Park where you can find a myriad of outdoor activities. There are a number of hotels located nearby as well, so if you do a night cruise, you can be right near your hotel.
Tips for Taking a Casino Cruise in Savannah
For the most enjoyable time aboard the ship, keep these pointers in mind.
- Be sure to dress up some. They suggest attire you might wear to a club or nice restaurant.
- It can be cold in the casino, so bring a light sweater or jacket.
- Refrain from bathing suits, cut off tops, tank tops, bikini tops, flip flops, and high heels.
- Prepare to tip for all services provided by the staff, including casino staff, bartenders, and wait staff.
- Arrive early as you may forfeit your spot if you don't show up within an allotted amount of time before sailing.
- Be patient as they can't open the casino until they get to international open waters. That may take a couple hours in some cases.
Reviewers are really divided on whether the Emerald Princess is worth it. Some people enjoyed the river cruise and noted they saw dolphins during their day cruise. The night cruise is great for groups and people who just want to enjoy a night out doing something different.
Of the negative reviews, most complaints center around less than excellent food and a lot of smoke. Something to note that caught a number of reviewers off guard is that the kitchen closes about an hour after taking off so if you plan to eat, you'd better do it when you first get on board.
Is a Savannah Casino Cruise Worth It?
As there is only one company that really still operates a casino cruise out of Savannah, you might be wondering if it's worth taking one. If you're a hardcore gambler, you may be disappointed, since it may take a while to reach international waters, even though it's only a few miles out. The scenery is beautiful, though, and at only a $10 cover fee, it's still not a bad way to spend 4-5 hours.