Don't Rock the Boat!
February 9th found me resigned to not being prepared for the trip. I headed to work knowing that I would have to rush to the airport as soon as I finished work. Fortunately, I was able to EO several hours early and make it to the airport with time to spare. The flight to Newark was uneventful, as all flights should be. We walked along Broadway and Times Square as we waited for check-in time. Sometime that day we learned that the Norwegian Dawn would be late getting into port (again). I seems that this ship has been running late for about 2 months. It is operating on one engine and the cruise line is hesitant to cancel a cruise in order to replace the other engine. When we finally got aboard and the ship got underway, it was dark. What a sight as we glided down the Hudson past the impressive NYC skyline.
Our fist order of business was a coctail reception for those passengers who had booked their cruise through Classic Gaming Cruises. Mingle and drink, what a way to kill an hour. I decided to get into an island state of mind and consumed a couple of Mai Tais.
Once we cleared the Hudson and entered the Atlantic it became clear that this was to be a rough cruise. The ship it was a rocking! The water was sloshing out of the swimming pool. I can only assume that the stabilizers were not deployed because of the drag that they create. They would have only slowed us down, so off we go into 18 foot seas.
The first full day of the cruise found me dealing a tournament. I made it through one table and started to deal the second table when all of a sudden I became extremely HOT. I frantically looked around for an available dealer who could relieve me. I barely made it to the rest room. The rough sea had won. I have never been sea sick before and I never hope to be sea sick again.
In order to compensate for our reduced speed, the itinerary was changed. We visited Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, St. John, St. Martin and Tortola.
As it turns out, there were four chip collectors on staff. Brian Freirmuth (Borgata, Bellagio), Frank Luo (Bellagio), Gene Trimble (Palms) and myself (Palms). When we docked in PR, Brian Frank and I headed out for a chip run. Time did not allow us to visit every casino in PR. We made it to El Casino in Old San Juan and then took a taxi to Isla Verde where we visited El San Juan Hotel & Casino, the San Juan Inter-Continental, Casino Del Sol, The Casino at the Ritz Carlton and Embasy Suites H&C. Without a doubt, the nicest was El San Juan Casino.
St. Thomas doesn't have casinos, so we took an open air taxi ride around the island. This trip included a stop at the Mountain Top with the obligatory Banana Daiquri. Several stops along the way afforded us the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful scenery and vistas. I personally believe that this was the nicest place that we visited.
St. John proved largely forgettable. Nothing stands out in my memory. I guess I will have to review the pictures.......
St. Martin proved interesting. We docked early and Frank, Brian and I were the first three passengers to disembark. In this case, the early birds DID NOT get the worm. The casinos here don't operate around the clock. We arrived down town to find none of the casinos open. With several hours to kill we decided to head to the French side of the island. The busses were cheap enough. We browsed the open air markets and then headed back to the Dutch side since that was where the casinos were. Just over the border we got off of the bus at the first casino. It was set WAY back from the road. As we walked past teh guard house we were informed that the casino did not open until 2PM. We walked the remaining distance anyway in order to take a few pictures. On the way back out the skies opened up and the rains came. Back on the bus. The driver dropped us off and told us that we would find a few casinos severl blocks down the road. More walking in the rain only to find the place closed. The next place closed etc.etc. Back on the bus. The driver told us that the Atlantis was open 24 hours, but it was not on his route. A small bribe convinced him to deviate from his bus route and he dropped us off in front of the apparently open Atlantis casino. Once inside we found that the slots were indeed open , but the table games would not open until later in the evening. The change girl had no chips to sell and no one was inside the cage. I asked to speak to the casino manager only to be told that there was not a manager on duty. This is not how things are done in LV! lol. While we waited for Brian to get a small hand-pay on a machine, Frank finally found someone who would sell us a few chips. Once outside, we remembered that we were NOT on a bus route. We finally found a cab and headed back to tourist area near the docks. By then the casinos there were open and we bought some chips. Between there and the ship we stocked up on Diet Coke and Bacardi. Once onboard we drank away the aggravation of the day. There was a party by the pool and we all sat around and played cards and took in the sights of people on vacation.
Speaking of cards...I learned a new game on this trip. Big Duece. As addicting and frustrating as poker, I fell in love with this game. I'll have to find some locals who play the game. I did find it online and have been practicing.
Tortola found the pier full so we were tendered onto the island. Only spent about an hour ashore there.
Amazingly, on a 10 night cruise, I never stepped foot in the ocean, the hot tubs or the pool. I was either dealing or playing cards. Oh well, that is what a (working) vacation is for. Do what you want and take things as they come.
Several times during the cruise we debated about changing our return flight. Chances were that we would be late getting back into NYC. Our flight schedule was tight even if we got in on time. You guessed it, we were late. OJ had nothing on us as we took a cab to the airport and literally ran to the counter. The flight was already closed. The nice people reopened the flight and tried to get us seats. The flight was oversold and some of our seats had already been given away. Four of us got on the plane and four others were left behind.
The next poker cruise is to the Mexican Riviera at the end of April. I'll be skipping that one. The one after that is to Alaska. I think that I will do that one.
If a poker cruise sounds like something that you may like, give Cathy a call at 877-736-8516. Tell her I sent you.
I only worked one day this week (Wed) Things were just as I remembered them. The poker explosion continues. Looks like the Pan game is on for Saturday evening and then back to work on Sunday afternoon.