New cruise caters to poker players

Susie Isaacs
Susie Isaacs will join players on the inaugural Sunshine Players Group poker cruise this month.

If the only thing stopping you from taking a Mexican Riviera cruise has been the lack of poker action, it might be time to rethink your vacation options.

On Jan. 26 Sunshine Players Group will launch its inaugural cruise when its Carnival Elation ship departs San Diego, Calif. With ports of call in Cabo San Lucas and Ensenada, Mexico, it's sure to be a lovely way to see Mexico. But what's different about this ship is that whenever it's in international waters - just three miles offshore - an onboard poker room will be open to all of Sunshine's members.

Sunshine bills itself as "a group of people who love to play poker," and that love of the game is embodied in its Director of Poker Operations, Bob Corona. Though he once worked as a project manager for an aircraft company, since 1989 Corona has been involved with the poker industry. In his career he has opened and managed four poker rooms in Tunica and California, in addition to working nearly every conceivable job in poker.

Corona says that several things will set Sunshine apart from other companies running poker cruises, starting with its schedule. Where other poker cruises run six to 10 times a year, Sunshine plans 37 cruises in 2008.

The price is also attractive, with some five-day cruises advertised on Sunshine's Web site at under $400 with all fees and taxes included.

Then there's the matter of the intimidation-free environment Sunshine strives for in the poker room.

"What we're looking for is different than the casinos and the poker rooms," Corona says. "What we're really doing is finding people that enjoy other people and enjoy poker."

One of those people is author and poker professional Susie Isaacs. The author of MsPoker: I'm Not Bluffing will be on the Jan. 26 cruise, where she will sign books, give poker tips and play poker along with other vacationing players. Isaacs is also scheduled to be on board the Feb. 10 cruise, which will feature a LIPS (Ladies International Poker Series) tournament.

Fittingly, Isaacs is being inducted as a charter member in the Women in Poker Hall of Fame at Binion's just days before the second cruise.

Also queued up for a cruise with Sunshine is Lou Krieger. In addition to penning many poker books, Krieger serves as host of the Rounders Radio show Keep Flopping Aces and editor of Poker Player Newspaper. He has signed on for Sunshine's Mar. 2 departure.

At least in the beginning, all the games in the Sunshine poker room will be Hold'em. There should be a game to suit just about any Hold'em player, though. Corona says that Sunshine's cruises will offer everything from "very low limit games for beginners" to higher-limit games and tournaments in their eight-table poker room.

For those who enjoy bonuses, planning a Sunshine cruise could be even more enjoyable. Each of the first 10 players who sign up for every cruise will be given a "member reward bonus," worth anywhere from $150 to $300 depending on the number of hours played on the cruise. Sunshine will also give away a free cruise to one member on each trip.

More information, including promotions, the complete cruise schedule and pricing, is available at Sunshine's Web site at

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