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    Ante Up sets 2012 poker cruise schedule

    Ante Up is planning three poker cruises in 2012, including a return to its home port of Tampa and sailing out of Baltimore for the first time.

    The schedule kicks off with a March 17 five-night sailing out of Tampa, continues with an Aug. 27 four-night voyage out of Port Canaveral and ends with a Nov. 10 seven-night sailing out of Baltimore.

    "We're excited that we were again able to put together a great schedule of poker cruises at very affordable prices," said Scott Long, who publishes Ante Up with Chris Cosenza. "The Baltimore cruise will make it easier for our fans in Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states to sail without having to fly, and we're pleased that we can again sail from Tampa, just minutes from where we're based."

    Ante Up transforms the conference centers aboard Royal Caribbean cruise ships into floating poker rooms, complete with professional equipment and staff. Each cruise features a variety of cash games, multitable and single-table tournaments, free poker classes and an open-bar cocktail party. Passengers enjoy all of the normal amenities of cruising, including gourmet food, exciting shows and fun activities, and at the same time get up to 94 hours of poker action.

    All cruises feature a $125 buy-in main event that qualifies for Ante Up's Player of the Year race, as well as at least one $70 tournament. An advanced hold'em class taught by a professional player is included in all fares, as well as a Poker 101 beginners class. On two of the cruises, a beginners Omaha/stud class also is offered.

    Ante Up will again seek to partner with a number of companies to add value to each of the three cruises, so the schedule and amenities are subject to change, but here's an early look at what to expect on all three sailings:


    The five-night cruise out of Tampa, Fla., aboard the Jewel of the Seas features Ante Up's first stop in Costa Maya, a historic Mexican town featuring Mayan ruins, as well as a stop in Cozumel, Mexico. Rates start at $579 per person and are guaranteed through Jan. 3.


    Ante Up's most popular cruise returns, with no price increase from last year. The four-night sailing aboard the Monarch of the Seas out of Port Canaveral, Fla., starts at $369 per person and the rate is guaranteed through June 15. Port stops include Nassau, Bahamas, and Royal Caribbean's private island of CocoCay.


    Ante Up's first cruise out of Baltimore, Md., is a seven-night voyage aboard the Enchantment of the Seas. In addition to stops in Nassau and CocoCay, the cruise makes a unique stop in Port Canaveral, Fla., allowing passengers to visit the Kennedy Space Center and dozens of other Florida attractions. Rates start at $599 and are guaranteed through Aug. 31.

    As usual, Ante Up will work with poker rooms and poker leagues to offer cruise package giveaways or satellites so passengers can win their way aboard. Details of giveaways will be posted on the cruise web page.

    "We're looking forward to working with poker rooms in Delaware, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and elsewhere in the area to join our cruise program with the Baltimore sailing, as well as all of the rooms in Florida who annually support the program," Long said.

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