Unexpected Bingo Win Expands Cruise Trip Luxury for Jubilant Gamblers


In an extraordinary surge of luck at the seemingly innocuous game of blackout bingo, an unsuspecting cruise passenger was awarded a spectacular room upgrade aboard an Azamara sea vessel. As the story unfolded, the fortunate gambler was revealed to be Michael Rivera, a jubilant voyager on the Azamara Quest cruise ship and the focus of a suddenly viral TikTok video under the profile – “Mr. Talcott”.

In the brief video that lasts a tad over a minute, Rivera details the thrilling account of playing blackout bingo, a riveting version of the game that aims to ‘black out’ an entire bingo card. Amid the rabble of players aboard the vessel, Rivera became the fortuitous player to successfully black out all 25 spaces on his card first.

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Overflowing with joy, Rivera shares the good news with his social media audience, exclaiming, “We just won bingo and got upgraded to the biggest room on the entire ship!” The impressive suite boasts of spacious living quarters, abundant closet space, an elegant dining area, two televisions, and a plush king-sized bed accompanied by a full bathroom accentuated by a jacuzzi tub and walk-in shower. The experience is further elevated with butler service and a sprawling 233 sq-ft private veranda.

Rivera, an elementary school teacher, is sailing the summer away with his husband Garett Talcott. Regular cruisers as per their social media posts, the couple had previously embarked on an Azamara cruise during the yuletide season last year and are now all set to enjoy their impromptu luxury, won entirely on chance.

The couple, onboard the Azamara Quest for a 20-day adventure, will luxuriate entirely in their upgraded suite, a residential offering that can command a steep price of $50K for a voyage of similar length. Azamara, originally a subsidiary of Royal Caribbean, was established in 2007 with an aim to diversify its operations and fleet. It was later sold to Sycamore Partners, a New York private equity firm during the pandemic with its fleet of four ships – the Journey, Quest, Pursuit and Onward – all registered in Malta.

On Azamara cruises, bingo is a regular feature, with an intriguing range of prizes for the winners. Rivera acknowledged to Newsweek about the steep investment of $450 for nine bingo cards each, but it was a calculated bet, with only 30 competing players. Indeed, luck was on their side and the gamble paid off grandiosely with the suite upgrade.

Azamara also operates a Summer Bingo promotion for travel agents where they are tasked to book cruises and consequently, a chance to win a free cruise stay for two. Intriguingly, Azamara deviates from the norm of most leading cruise lines by omitting casino gambling and instead offering a card room where bridge and such games can be played casually.

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) reported an unprecedented growth for the cruise industry in their April statement, noting a 7% rise from 2019 with 31.7 million people sailing the seas. By 2024, it is projected that the global cruise industry will operate more than 300 ships. Based on a CLIA survey, travel advisors were key in convincing three in four cruise travelers to set sail. As the story of Rivera and Talcott proves, cruising can indeed transform into an adventure of unexpected and delightful surprises.