Casino cruises will be available in the Savannah, Georgia market starting in early June. Madeira Beach, Florida-based Tradewinds Cruise Lines announced its Escapade, a three-deck, 200-foot, 425-passenger casino boat, will offer five-hour cruises daily except Monday, leaving from Wilmington Island. Passengers will enjoy Vegas-style gaming, including 220 slots, 12 blackjack tables, a double-sided roulette wheel, craps and poker.
Two levels will be designated as non-smoking areas. The boarding fee will be $14.95 and will include a light meal served on the way back to port. Three full bars will be available. Specials will be offered for seniors, locals, military and law enforcement.
Roger Humphreys, Tradewinds vice president for operations in Savannah, said the company is finalizing permits and regulatory requirements. “We’re excited to be coming to the coastal Georgia market. This is a great area, and our research indicates there is a market with both locals and tourists for a legitimate casino ship operation,” Humphreys said.
Tradewinds has had issues in Savannah in the past, Humphreys acknowledged. In 2012, Marine Charters LLC and Diamond Casino Cruise LLC were indicted for illegal gambling in Georgia and South Carolina waters. “We have been operating in the St. Petersburg area for two years and have maintained a good relationship with state and federal entities there. You can be sure there will be no gambling on our boat until we are in international waters,” Humphreys said. He added Tradewinds will continue to operate in Florida and a new boat will arrive soon.
The Escapade will create about 75 new jobs, Humphreys said.