Florida Today Article

PORT CANAVERAL — About 150 new employees of Victory Casino Cruises on Monday walked the gangway to their new work place as they prepare for a maiden sailing that operators hope is just days away.

The operators of the Victory 1, who are billing the vessel as “America’s Largest Casino Cruise Ship,” say once the ship passes a inspection by the U.S. Coast Guard, it will be ready to sail.

“It’s up to the Coast Guard, and it’s a process the ship has to go through,” said Christine Boyd, a spokeswoman for Victory Casino said Monday. “If all goes according to plan, the first sailing should be the end of June.”

Of course, adding a week or two on the end of that wouldn’t be out of the question either.

The new owners of the ship initially predicted a November 2010 opening, before the date was pushed back severaltimes .

But the delays are the price paid both for taking a ship through bankruptcy proceedings, as they have done with the former SunCruz Casinos vessel, and for the top-to-bottom, multi-million dollar overhaul the new owners say they’ve carried out.

Now docked at Terminal No. 2 near Jetty Park, the ship boasts 5,500 square feet of new carpeting, as well as new fixtures, signs, seating, lighting and high-tech gaming machines.

There has been considerable interest in seeing the Victory 1 succeed, from the 300 people the floating casino ultimately plans to employ to the gamblers who prefer a gambling cruise over land-based casinos to the eating and drinking establishments in the area .

“We expect it to be standing-room only right around happy hour,” said Carol McCormack, a bartender at Kay’s Place, located just yards from Terminal No. 2. “And when the ship returns from a midnight sailing, we expect it to be standing-room only then.”

McCormack said when Sterling Casino sailed from the terminal, the small bar and grill saw a steady stream of customers.

“We hope it’s going to be as good as the Sterling days,” she said.

The ship has four levels, including a sports lounge and a nightclub called “Club V.” The second and third decks will be for gaming. The operators plan on a regional shuttle-bus program, probably in concert with area hotel operators, that will bring at least 160,000 passengers each year to the ship, they believe.

Also, in a departure from the SunCruz operation, each passenger will have to pay a $10 admission price for the five-hour cruise. A buffet will be available for an additional charge. Guests will receive free drinks while gaming.


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