New casino cruise to sail out of Mayport

First cruise expected in June on 229-foot ship

By Chris Parenteau - Reporter

MAYPORT, Fla. - In just a few weeks, gamers in Jacksonville will have a new place to play. Victory Casino Cruises will begin service of a 30,000-square-foot ship with three decks and hundreds of slot machines and table games next month.

The Victory Casino Cruise Ship, which will soon begin sailing out of Mayport, is actually the largest of any of the four that have called Mayport home. At 229 feet long and with state-of-the art gaming on board, the owner said he expects the ship to have great success in the area.

"The type of product, the type of gaming, and the type of experience that we provide on our vessels is so much improved over anything you've ever seen," said Lester Bullock, CEO of Victory Casino Cruises. "We are looking to employ 200 people. Our original vessel is in Port Canaveral. We have 450 employees on that one. We are making the product here just like the one in Canaveral."

In terms of gaming, the cruise ship will have over 300 slot machines and 17 table games, including craps, roulette, blackjack, poker and ultimate Texas Hold'em. The ship will also have a sports book, where people can wager on games.

In addition to gaming, the top deck will be a nightclub with entertainment and events. Cruises will cost $10. Food on board is sold separately. Patrons can eat in the dining room for $15 or order items a la carte, ranging from $6 to $12.

"We already have groups that are pre-booked for June and July," Bullock said. "We have groups that have committed to cruise weekly for a year. We think we look like we are going to be an extreme success."

Victory is the fourth casino cruise that has left out of Mayport. La Cruise Casino was the first; the second was Sun Cruise Casino; and the most recent, Jacks or Better, took over in 2011. All three previous ships had problems in the area and went out of business.

"We think our product is much better than anything that has been seen in this market. We have the largest vessel ever," Bullock said. "We have a 10-year agreement with the dock here in Mayport."

The exact date of the first cruise hasn't been nailed down, but the target date is sometime in mid June.

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