Casino cruise sold out on first night out of Mayport

MAYPORT, Fla. -- Sold out on its first night at sea.

The cruise ship bringing gambling back to Mayport reached its full capacity Tuesday night.

600 people came aboard the Victory Casino Cruise. Some say they've been waiting for something like this since 2012 when the last casino cruise to operate off Mayport suspended operations.

"This is a long time coming," said Barry Brahm, a Jacksonville resident.

For the last few months the Victory Casino ship was being refurbished to fit Jacksonville's need.

"It was very important to find the correct ship," said Lester Bullock, CEO Victory Casino Cruises. " I needed a ship large enough to where people could enjoy the experience."

Bullock is talking about designing the ship to make it different than any other that has sailed out Mayport.

"We have 17 table games that include craps, roulette, blackjack, baccarat, we have no commission baccarat which is very unique," said Bullock.

Gambling starts when the cruise ship is in international waters, so for the first and last 40 minutes or so of the 5 hour trip, the dining and entertainment take over. Bullock is confident it will keep people coming back out to sea.

"I'm really looking forward to what the ship has to offer," said Arney Gardner, who has cruised with the Victory Casino Cruise out of Port Canaveral before.

The ship will also have a lot to offer to Mayport. $6 million will go to payroll for the 225 locally hired employees. Natalie Jones supervises the parking lot and says she was thrilled when she got a call back one week after applying.

"They're automatically guaranteeing us 40 plus hours a week, so that's definitely going to help me get out of my mom's house," said Jones.

Bullock also says 10 to 12 million will be spent to operate the vessel, they'll spend up to 6 million on local goods and services. Brahm says it's a good thing for the community and is looking forward to a little luck on the slots.

"[Hopefully] coming home with more than 5 bucks in my wallet," said Brahm.

The word is getting out to tourists as well. Two women First Coast News spoke to on the ship said they were from Atlanta and actually saw a Groupon for the casino cruise so they booked a vacation to Jacksonville.

Bullock says the ship will expose hundreds to Mayport businesses.

The ship is going to be cruising twice a day every day. It's $10 for a ticket to the cruise. The buffet is $15 on weekdays, $20 on weekends, and the a la carte menu ranges from $7 to $12.

And if you're still looking for a job, the CEO says they are making a few more hires.


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