Marie and I have so much to talk about that we have decided to split this last trip into several reports. We were gone 18 days, not our longest trip in Slotsisters’ history, and our husbands were still home when we got back. You will be amazed at how much we accomplished. So this is why we have decided to split it up. Although we probably should make three reports and may still, I won’t know until I get a little further along.
We were headed to Florida to take a cruise on the Carnival Vista, the newest ship in the Carnival fleet. We also were finishing up our Albertson’s Monopoly endeavor, playing at Biloxi casinos, seeing our sister in Destin, and another venture I will get to soon.
Marie drove to my house on Sunday April 23 to pick me up. When we go to Lake Charles, Louisiana, we usually travel to Beaumont and then hit I-10 but Marie and I wanted to go through Houston this trip to shop a little bit, for what will be revealed later. So off we went to Navasota to MacDonald’s for breakfast, 290 to Houston to shop, collect Monopoly tickets at some local Randall’s, then to Lake Charles to Casa Ole’ and collect more Monopoly tickets at Albertson’s which was tripling tickets, and lastly checking into the Lauberge Hotel and Casino. Marie went into Albertson’s and stood in a long line to redeem her instant win tickets for more tickets. After watching so many people get triple tickets, she finally reached the cashier’s desk. When she handed the cashier her tickets, the cashier’s eyes got real big because Marie handed her 250 tickets. (Each ticket stood for 2 game pieces). She took out a piece of paper and did old school math. Uh…. 250 X 2 X 3 = 1500 tickets. After about 5 minutes of math, she said she would have to get approval from the manager to give out so many tickets. She came back within minutes with the manager and said she couldn’t give them to me. She could give me 500 tickets. The manager confirmed her story. So Marie promptly informed him letting him know that everyone in front of her had received triple tickets and insisted he give her his name and that she would be writing a letter to corporate headquarters for discrimination. Without batting an eye, the manager told the cashier to give her three sleeves of tickets. Needless to say Marie felt terrible again, but it’s only a game. Sometimes at the end of the game, the stores give 10 times the tickets. By that time, we would be out of the country and so she wanted her fair share.
Finally we made it to Lauberge. So many stops in one day and it was time to relax, get a drink and try to win some money. We love Lauberge because it has a lodge feel with a beautiful fireplace. Only the elevators are so far from check in.
After checking in, it was down to the casino. I played video poker and slots and Marie played slots. Neither one of us did very well, but we didn’t lose much. Marie played Coyote Moon and won $190.00. We needed our cash for the next part of our trip coming up. We got up and drove towards Biloxi, stopping along the way to shop for our big reveal. We were staying at Harrah’s on the way to Florida and at Beau Rivage on the way back to Texas. We like to stay at Harrah’s because it’s more casual and they have a good selection of slots, plus $5 tables. However we love to stay at the Beau because it has the southern charm, beautiful floral displays, great restaurants, nice shops, lots of new slots, walk-in showers, and unbelievably comfortable beds. I hate to sound like a hotel snob like my friend Jill M. says she is, but the Beau is a lovely place to stay and play. Plus we have always had complimentary rooms and you earn comps for food while you play.
Oh yeah, back to Harrah’s. We had separate rooms this time. Most of the time that we share a room, it’s because Marie wants to make sure I get up early, (or even get up) so we can get an early start. After we checked in, we went to Harrah’s Diamond Lounge for drinks and a snack. The snack turned out to be a meal of pulled pork sandwiches and coleslaw. After your gambling qualifies you as a Diamond member, you can go into the Diamond Lounge for complimentary food and drinks. There are no slots in the Diamond Lounge, but personally I think it would be a good idea.
Next it was on to play. I went to see if there was an unoccupied Buffalo Grand, but they were full. So I went to my second choice which was Lightning Link. I stayed even and had an enjoyable conversation with a nice lady from Illinois. I enjoy meeting and visiting with people from everywhere. Finally I was able to play on the Buffalo Grand. I love this slot. When it hits, it’s amazing. Unfortunately… well, you know. Bedtime and we were ready.
The next day we ate breakfast at Harrah’s Mix and Mingle café for which we had comps for. It was very good. We got the car from valet and took off for Destin, Florida. We were spending two nights with our sister Cheryl and her husband Kerry at their lovely condo.
While we were traveling through Alabama, Marie got pulled over. She wasn’t speeding so we thought maybe she might have a tail light out. When the highway patrolman came to my window, he said he stopped her for Improper Lane Usage. We had never heard of that, but it seems her right wheels touched the white stripes on the far right lane for a second. We explained that we did not realize it and that we didn’t even know there was such a thing. Then Marie pointed to a vehicle ahead of us who was straddling the white line and she asked “you mean like that guy?” He gave her a warning and a smile and down the road we all went. He was a nice guy and was curious too about our magnetic car door sign with our logo on it. That was the second time she had ever been pulled over. Alabama was looking for some money that day. Marie still has never gotten a ticket. In Destin that night, we had dinner at a restaurant called LuLu’s which is owned by Jimmy Buffet’s sister. It wasn’t all that good. I had gumbo which was very thin and fish tacos which were just okay. After dinner, we went back to the condo. Marie had lots of Monopoly tickets to enter into the computer. So much to do. My phone had been acting up for several days and this was when it cratered all together. I couldn’t call home, take pictures, check my e-mail, nothing. It’s an uncomfortable feeling, like I lost an appendage or forgot to put on a critical piece of clothing. I went a good two weeks without a phone.
The next day was a take it easy day. We slept in and had breakfast, watched television the rest of the day, and looked out of the huge floor to ceiling glass windows and doors facing the ocean that surround the lovely condo that Cheryl and Kerry have. It was wonderful to not have to get in the car. We ordered in pizza, had a wonderful visit and went to bed early. The next day we were driving as far southeast as we could go because on Sunday we were getting on the Carnival Vista in Miami to cruise to Jamaica, Caymans, and Cozumel. Again, I know, but it was another free cruise so we won’t complain.
On Friday we drove to Melbourne, Florida to spend the night. We found a very nice Hilton for $109 per night which we split by sharing a room. It was totally worth it. We were on the Concierge floor and had complimentary drinks, dinner and breakfast the next morning. Staying in Melbourne left us with a short trip to Miami where we were staying the night so we could get right on the ship.
We had reservations at Miami’s Intercontinental Hotel. It was beautiful and huge and swarming with people. I loved it. It reminded me of a New York City high rise hotel. So many people from so many different places speaking different languages. We loved it. We went downstairs to see what was happening. The restaurant was empty and we didn’t want to be the only ones in there, so we went to the bar in the lobby and ordered some small plates of food to share. First was guacamole with roasted corn and bacon with chips. We have never had guacamole like that before, but it was delish. Next we had shrimp fried rice and shrimp enbrochette. It was all really good and just enough to fill us up until we got on the ship the next day.
The next morning we got downstairs, checked out, retrieved our car and luggage. The porters and valet were very kind and attentive. So nice to be catered to. I tried to tip one guy and he wouldn’t accept it. We then drove to the cruise terminal which was really close, only about 5 minutes away. We unloaded our luggage in front of the terminal (some people refuse to turn their luggage loose and instead wag and pull their bags onboard, either afraid they’ll lose them or too cheap to tip the baggage guys) and drove into the parking garage. We then took the elevator down to ground level and got in line to get checked in. Here is a picture of the building next to the cruise terminal and a picture of Miami’s skyline. Downtown Miami is a very clean and beautiful.
Check-in was a breeze. Quickest and easiest ever – about thirty minutes from parking to boarding the ship. I can’t believe I didn’t get any flack from Marie about this, but when I printed up my boarding pass, I somehow printed up hers and mine. When I was making sure I had all of my documents, I saw a boarding pass, plus another boarding pass. So without looking at it closely, I threw away what I thought was a second copy. Of course when I got to the check in, I discovered I had kept Marie’s boarding pass and not mine. No problem, though. They checked me right in anyway.
We got in the special assistance line which is very fast and I needed wheelchair assistance. I have Multiple Sclerosis and this blog is not about that, only happy thoughts, so other than making a reference about needing special assistance or a difficulty now and then, I will not be making too many comments about that. I did rent an electric scooter though because the ship was larger than some we had been on. Except for my lack of driving skills, it was much easier than walking for miles.
In no time we were on the ship and in the bar on deck 3. It looked pretty much like all the other bars on deck 3 of the other Carnival ships. Deck 3 is where you board and where the first bar is. The Vista has been hyped as having a Cuban theme, but unfortunately there was no sign of it in the bar, nor on any of the other public areas of the ship. I saw somewhere that some cabins have patios but we didn’t have one of those.
We weren’t cruising to Cuba unfortunately, just back to the same old places – Jamaica, Cayman, and Cozumel. No special drinks with a Cuban theme, no spiffy old cars, no nothing. Just like all the other ships, pretty but not Cuban. There was a Guy Fieri Barbeque restaurant which was much like authentic Texas style barbeque and pretty good. There was the usual Guy’s Burger Joint, a steakhouse, an Asian restaurant, a new Seafood Shack which smelled awful so we didn’t try it, the buffet and the dining rooms, the Pizzaria and of course room service. There is plenty to eat and drink so if you go hungry, it’s your own fault.
Here are some pictures Marie took right before we sailed from the top deck.
We loved our cabin. We had stayed in one before like it on another ship. We had one and a half bathrooms, two single beds that were quite comfortable, plenty of closet space and an ocean view. It was perfect, close to the casino, bars and restaurants. I always think of the lower decks as steerage, but not so. I have always heard that on the lower decks you could feel the movement of the ocean more, but not so. Just take your Dramamine and you’ll be fine. After unpacking we sucked it up and went to Muster. There simply isn’t any way out of it. You have to be present and accounted for or the ship will not sail. It doesn’t last long, the restaurants are closed during, and the casino doesn’t open until about thirty minutes after sailing, so don’t hold up the ship because nobody is going anywhere until everyone has been to muster, even if only one person is a no show.
After muster we made our way to the casino to wait. We ordered a drink and soon the casino was up and running. We hadn’t played long before Valentina, one of the casino hostesses brought us our free drink cards. We are so close to the next level of casino play which is platinum that I guess she knew we would qualify for free drinks in the casino anyway. It usually takes 1500 points to get free drinks, but we haven’t had to wait in a long time. Finally it was time to play. I spotted a Tower Stack Lion slot like I had played in Las Vegas at the MGM. I hit several bonuses and I cashed out $380 and went on to Quick Hits and had no luck. There were jackpots hitting everywhere, but not for me. I went to find Marie and see if she was having better luck. She had found a home on the Wonder Tower of Four machines and having a blast. All week she and the same people played the group of six machines. They were all doing well, especially one gentleman who kept getting hand pays. Marie had one which wasn’t exactly a hand pay, but they did give her a voucher for $854 because her machine had $600 credits on it when she hit the $854 which pushed her up over $1400. I don’t know why they didn’t just let her play on it, but since it was over $1200, which anything over that in one hit requires a hand pay, they vouchered $854 and left her with $600 to play on. She just went to the cashier and cashed in the voucher instead of bringing the money to her. I don’t pretend to understand it, but whatever.
We got hungry and went to the Pizza Pirate on the Lido deck and ate and went to the room. The ocean was smooth and we wanted a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow was another day.
The next day was a sea day and I was sleeping in but Marie was up and at it earlier than I was. We were both exhausted from all the driving. It is a long way from Destin to Miami, from the Florida panhandle to the Atlantic Ocean and almost from the very top to the very bottom of Florida. About like driving across Texas. I know she was tired from driving. I was just sitting and opening tickets. Still we were both tired. Never mind that. We ordered room service for coffee and a BLT and soon I was ready to explore the pseudo Cuban vibe via the casino. I didn’t have much luck this full first day on the ship. Marie was still on Tower of Wonder and having a blast. I decided to go to the poker tables. I played Let It Ride and Three Card Poker and Ultimate Texas Holdem. It was terrible. Were there no pairs in the deck? Where were the face cards? I hadn’t seen such bad hands in forever. I should have tried roulette or blackjack.
We were hungry but didn’t want to go to the dining room. This was a dress up night and neither one of us wanted to go through the hassle. We went up to the buffet instead and I had the best prime rib ever. Salads and vegetables were good and they had a really good key lime cake. We had decided before we got on board that we were going to avoid the dining room as much as we could. The menu is always the same, Carnival food never changes and it always tastes exactly like it did on the previous cruise and it’s not as good as it was years ago when we first started cruising.
On our way back down in the elevator to the casino, I drove my scooter in head first. I didn’t like that because I wanted to be heading out when we got to the Deck 5 where the casino was. So since Marie and I were the only ones on the elevator, I proceeded to turn around. Big mistake. When I got to number 5 of my 5-point turn, the door opened and two ladies from New York, Sherri and Leslie, tried to get on. These ladies turned out to be correctional officers. Marie and I were laughing so hard we thought we might pass out because it was a ridiculous mess with backing up and turning and going forward. I ended getting my scooter wedged between the elevator doors right on the track. Well, by then Sherri and Leslie who bravely hung in with us, were laughing as hard as we were. I couldn’t move so I got off and Marie and Sherri and Leslie picked up the front end of the scooter and headed it out the door. In all the mayhem, no one remembered to take a picture, but here is a picture of Sherri and Leslie.
Marie did video me trying to park the scooter in our room.
I sat down at a Lock n Link machine which was really fun. It was a lot like Lightning Link. When I sat down there was $1.10 showing on the credit meter. There was no one around and I waited for several minutes before I put any money in and no one showed up. After I had started to play, a woman and a casino attendant came over to me and the woman was explaining that she had left money in the machine and that I was playing on it. I couldn’t hear how much she said she had in it, but the attendant must have told her she should have been playing with her card so that there would be a record of it. I never saw her again.
The next day was an in-port day and I don’t know if we were in Jamaica or Cayman. We did not get off the boat. It was a 3-R day – Relaxing, Reading, and Room Service. We went to the casino that evening and Marie at least video’d a win she had on the Wonder 4 Tower.
Our Casino Hostess Katherine offered us a complimentary dinner at JiJi’s Asian restaurant for the next evening. Yes!
The next day was an in-port day again and we actually made use of our time on the ship. We went up to the Serenity Deck and spent the day reading and relaxing and no makeup. Yay!
We met another nice couple in the casino that night. It’s mostly familiar faces in the casino every day and we kept running into Vinny and Kathy from Queens, New York. I asked them if Vinny was a popular name in New York. They laughed and said it was.
We were excited to eat dinner at JiJi’s. We had a complimentary bottle of wine and we ordered Chicken Pot Stickers, Spring Rolls, Sweet and Sour Shrimp, and Kung Pao Chicken. It was all excellent. We then ordered Crème Brulee and crepes for dessert. The portions weren’t huge and we managed to eat it all. We didn’t have one single complaint. Why no pictures? Too busy eating. A few weeks ago on Shark Tank, a couple featured on the show had a business of making chopstick rests for Asian restaurants. It was amazing that JiJi’s had them on the tables.
We always stick our www.Slotsisters.com sign on our cabin door. One lady named Maria said she and her husband were staying down the hall from us and that they had discussed changing the “o” in Slotsisters to a “u”. But they didn’t. Crazy Maria.
The next day was Cozumel and you know what that means. Pancho’s Back Yard and Margaritas. So good. A little shopping and back to the ship. This is a view of the ship through the outdoor garden and eating area of Pancho’s.
This was a Carnival Live Cruise and Jay Leno was performing on the ship tonight and we had tickets. Jay was a riot and put on a really good show. His monologue lasted about an hour and a half and we had really good seats.
The next day was an at sea day and we spent the day playing with our new friends. Marie was on her Tower of 4 Wonder with the same people and I was flitting around. I played Lightning Link, Tower Stack Lion, Quick Hit, Quick Hit Rising Riches, Triple Double Diamond, Buffalo Gold, Lock and Link (which was like Lightning Link), Video Poker, etc. I never hit much, but when I hit something, it wasn’t enough to bring me back up to even. Marie found some Chinese themed machines and did well on them. She was playing $1.76 which is unusual. She cashed out at $699.64.
The next day we were leaving and heading back to Destin and we wanted to make it in one day. Yes, we won two more free cruises, but that is another story for another day. We did make it to Destin and spent the night with Cheryl and Kerry. We left the next morning for Biloxi for three nights at the Beau.
We had a lovely room with a fabulous view of the pool and Gulf of Mexico.
We found out when we checked in at the Beau Rivage that Biloxi was hosting the 2017 National Veterans Golden Age Games and many of the veterans were staying at the Beau. Also, the day we checked in was the 43rd anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War. There were so many veterans there and we took this picture of two really great guys.
My first day at the Beau I hit a hand pay on a Quick Hit, my first ever at the Beau, for $1600. It was really fun. On our second day at the Beau we drove to Hammond Louisiana to redeem our Monopoly tickets for more free tickets. Since it was the day before the end of the game, the store couldn’t multiply our tickets because they were down to a small box. By then we really didn’t care enough to complain. Plus it was worth going into the store to see the cashier’s long fingernails. They were at least five inches long from cuticle to end and they were starting a spiral curl. Howard Hughes had nothing on her. On the third day I hit a second hand pay for $1800 on Buffalo Grand. Twice the fun. I can’t wait to go back. Maybe my phone will work for when I hit a hand pay again. We had dinner that night at Prime Steakhouse. I know I’ve talked about it before, but it is amazing. I want to go back soon.
We left on day four and drove back to Texas. It was a great trip and we were ready to go home to our husbands and cats. The next trip report will be called “The Big Reveal”. Check it out. I will try to get it out as quick as I can. Lots to report.