To the average visitor to the casinos in Las Vegas, the difference between a “downstream” hotel and a “upstream” hotel can be very subtle. In many ways, an upstream hotel is indistinguishable from a “downstream” hotel by most standards. If you are staying at an upstream hotel, you may notice that there are more slots for gaming and tables for card games than at a casino site with the same number of rooms. You’ll also be able to tell when the slots are “live” by the lively, darting motion of the slot machines.
Upstream hotels are not in all of the same locations as downstream sites. For example, a casino near the Bellagio or the Venetian may have several “up stream” gaming establishments whereas a similar “down stream” location may only have one or two establishments. You’ll also notice that there are differences in the overall design and ambiance of the two types of establishments. Upstream sites are usually decorated and themed to look like a casino. They may even use slot machines with colored lights and unusual music.
Downstream casino sites, on the other hand, are normally the old “closing” variety of casino sites, the ones where the doors to the casino are being closed to traffic because the entire building is being converted into a casino. The casino site on a river boat cruise, for example, will be completely shut off from the river and the guests will be enjoying their time on the cruise without hearing a rumbling of bass boats from the shore. This type of close proximity to the water allows guests to enjoy river boat gambling without worrying about whether they might hit a rock or someone slipping in. You also won’t find very many people walking around on the river boat sites with cameras ready to film the next big jackpot or if a guest slips and falls.
Of course, sometimes you do run across a “downstream” casino site on a river boat cruise. In these cases, it is best to avoid the casino and just go for the buffet. These buffet style casinos are usually less costly and can be a lot of fun as long as you are not losing a lot of money!
In addition, there are some down stream “closing” casino sites that have been known to offer some special deals to river boat passengers. For example, a few years ago at Bellagio, a huge casino was built right on the river and casino guests would cruise up and down the Colorado River in order to play a few games. Not only did they get to play a few games on the river boat, but they got special dining privileges on the casino ship. Not everyone can afford to eat all the meals on a cruise ship, so this could be an excellent opportunity for a casino traveler to get a deal on a nice meal or snack while on vacation. Some cruise lines still do this today.
Keep in mind that even though you can often find good deals on cruises, that doesn’t mean that the river boat cruise itself will be inexpensive. You may find that the quality of the cruise is really good, but then again, you could find that the price of the excursion is very affordable. In either case, if you are planning to stay on the water with your own casino ship instead of relying upon the hotel, you should definitely take advantage of any deals that are available to you at any one of the many down stream casinos. As long as you keep your eyes open and are willing to take a chance, there is no reason that you cannot find a deal. Just be sure to check out all the options you have and then make the most cost effective decision.