In early summer, the Eldorado casino in Shreveport, Louisiana sent me a post card for a complimentary cruise for two on Carnival. All I had to do was be at the casino on a certain date to pick up the certificate in order to book the cruise. Thinking there was a catch, we took a chance and made the trip to Shreveport. Marie and I finally made a decision on where we wanted to cruise, that is after asking my husband, Jim, if he wanted to go. He said he couldn’t go and leave his cattle and our cats, so Marie and I didn’t let that stop us and we decided to go alone.
On September 19, Marie came to my house to spend the night. The next day we would drive 2-1/2 hours to Galveston to board the Carnival Magic for a 7 day cruise. The itinerary was two days at sea, one day in Cozumel, one day in Belize and one day in Honduras and the last two days at sea again. How exciting, right? We were excited and anxious to get aboard and get Muster over with. Before Muster and while everyone was shuffling onto the ship, Marie and I sat at the 3rd floor bar, looking to see if we recognized anyone and enjoyed the beauty of the ship.
Muster was always held soon after all passengers were on board. Muster used to be a big pain in the butt, but it has gotten less of a pain in recent years. Of course all ships are different, and the Carnival Magic has modified Muster. In the past each passenger would have to put on their life vest and go out on their designated deck in 100 degree weather and 99% humidity and stand around while they received instructions on what to do in an emergency– such as a Titanic event. This usually lasted around fifteen minutes and fingers were crossed no one would pass out. I don’t know what changed this, but now you don’t have to even take your life jackets to Muster and all passengers meet in a designated air conditioned lounge. What an improvement. If only the stewards would break out a bottle of champagne as soon as Muster was over. A better improvement could be serving cocktails and hors d’oeuvres during the instructions. Then no one would be in such a hurry to leave. I have all kinds of ideas. How about they make it like a Comic Defensive Driving class or even a musical revue?
After Muster, we went to our room to freshen up and get ready for dinner. We had chosen the early dinner seating which was 6 o’clock. We have friends, Steve and Pam Bebe, who were on the cruise with us but they had chosen the anytime dining and as yet we had not seen them. As always the meal and service was exceptional. Our head waiter was Smith and he and his servers did an excellent job. We were seated with a nice couple from Arkansas named Troy and Judy. I had shrimp and a fried rice dish and Marie had Mahi Mahi.
Since we were full and sleepy, we decided to go to the casino to try to wake up. Well, that wasn’t the whole reason, but it sounds good.
The Magic has a really nice casino- larger than a lot of cruise ship’s casinos, well lit and shiny and lots of waitresses and waiters. They had some of the new slots- Ellen and Triple Game Quick hit, but no Flintstones, Willy Wonka, Elton John, Walking Dead, Moby Dick, Lord of the Rings, Superman or Wonder Woman. I did miss these but not all land casinos have them either. There were video poker machines, three hot shot machines, platinum quick hits, Asian themed slots such as Fu-Dai-Le and Fire and Rain. At the tables, there was no Mississippi Stud or Blackjack 21+3. There was supposed to be a Texas Hold-em tournament but there were not enough players interested. there were several slot tournaments, but we didn’t do well, so we blew it off after the first round. Around 10:00 or 11:00 PM there were waiters passing out complementary slices of pizza and empanadas. We both felt like we were invited guests at a party which I guess we were.
Marie went to the pool deck to check out the outdoor movie which was Pitch Perfect 2, but I stayed in the casino. Pam and Steve showed up and we all played awhile but without much luck. Pam is a really good blackjack player but I am still learning. I stuck with the slot machines until I couldn’t stay awake any longer and went to our cabin and made sure Marie had made it in and decided to go to bed and get another start on the next day. Our cabin was in a perfect location– deck 8 and middle of the ship. We had upgraded to a balcony cabin for about $300 each and we were anxious to get some use out of it. Everyday, we opened the curtains, to let the light in and Marie enjoyed reading on the balcony and enjoying the fresh air and privacy. Our room was a few steps from the elevator and in very close proximity to the dining room and casino. Each night upon returning to our cabin, our cabin steward, Joko and his guys had left us an animal made out of towels. I know this is not unusual on cruises, but it’s still fun
Marie ordered room service our first morning and almost every day for our breakfast which was at no extra charge. We took our time getting ready and drinking our coffee and having a light breakfast. When we travel, we usually only have 2 meals a day so we were fine until dinner. Marie and I entered the slot tournament but neither one of us placed. We played until dinner when we met Pam and Steve. The staircase on the ship is beautiful and a great opportunity for a photo with Pam and Marie.
This was Pam and Steve’s first cruise and they didn’t know they could have as many appetizers, entrees, and desserts as they wanted. Since we ate with them at their table and dining room, we had a different wait staff and felt rushed through our meal. I’m not sure if it was the later dining time or because the maître d worked us in, but when we ordered three appetizers, the waiter brought all three at once on three different plates. You can imagine how crowded our table was. We had the most delicious fried oysters with two on a plate, so we reordered. I know how it sounds, but the food on Carnival is exceptional and the oysters were just that good. One of their signature desserts is a chocolate melting cake that is unbelievable. It reminds me of a flourless chocolate cake and they offer it every night. You must have it at least twice per cruise or you will hate yourself when you get home.
On September 22, I had a bit of good luck at the casino on the Ellen slot, I kept hitting the bonus and ended up cashing out $1,000.00. Carnival uses the player card to track points and store your winnings. When you put cash in the machine, it goes on your card as your bank, you can cash it out anytime at the cashier’s cage or continue to play on your winnings. However, if you hit a jackpot on the slots of over $1,199.00, you are paid in cash and must pay taxes on your winnings. It’s the same at all other casinos. If I figured it right, it takes about $2.00 to earn one point. After you accumulate 1500 points, drinks are complimentary in the casino for the rest of the trip. I know it sounds like you would have to spend a lot of money to get free drinks but it’s not as bad as it sounds. For example if you put $10.00 in a machine and hit $10.00 and decide to keep playing (because let’s face it, you came there to play and have fun), then you have earned about 10 points. But if you hit that $10.00 in small increments such as .50 each and you tell yourself that when you inserted the original $10.00 that you were prepared to lose it because you weren’t losing more than you intended to lose and you were having a great time. So each time you push the spin reels button and hit something and recycle that win into an investment in the hopes of hitting something big(just think of the slot machine as your investment broker)(no offense Edward Jones), you are earning points and before you know it your points are adding up and Carnival hands you a card that states you have earned free drinks. And if you don’t drink alcohol, it covers soft drinks as well and non alcoholic fruity concoctions that are delicious. It’s really not that complicated; just put your money in and push the button and hope your investment makes you more money than your investment broker. But don’t be like Marie, who decided to play at a Triple Triple Diamond machine and only played .20. Yes that’s right. Well she hit the “big one”. Triple Triple Triple Diamond. It would have paid $1500.00 if she had played the max, but she got a whopping $34.00 instead. Enough said.
On the 23rd we docked in Cozumel. Marie and I had been there several times, so we decided to stay on the ship and relax. I slept until 1:00 and Marie read and rested. When the ship is in port the casino is closed. It was a perfect time to do nothing. Every day we dressed for the day and evening rather than change clothes several times during the day. After all, it’s not like we were doing anything to mess up our clothes. Two of the nights in the dining room were dress-up nights but we ended up dressing up every night just because we could. And if you were eating in any of the specialty restaurants like the steak restaurant or the Italian restaurant, you were encouraged to dress accordingly. But if someone was eating at the buffet, they didn’t need to get dressed up.
Later that day I decided to play tables. The Magic had Roulette, Craps, Let it Ride Poker, Three-Card Poker, Texas Ultimate Hold-em Poker, and several Blackjack tables. I sat down at Ultimate Hold-em and a gentleman to the right of me said, “I know you. We played cards on the Carnival Triumph a few years ago on a short cruise out of Galveston.” Sure enough he looked familiar but I wasn’t sure if we had played together at Coushatta in Kinder, Louisiana or at the boats in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Ben Avery from Sugarland, Texas was my table mate from several years back, Strange how you can run into someone you had met once before in the not so recent past. I guess the gambling community is not so big after all.
I wasn’t having any luck and moved around the casino to other poker tables and blackjack, but I didn’t have much better luck and finally gave up and went back to the slots. Marie was playing the Cats slot which was the only one in the casino. She was having a great time. It was four games in one and she was doing a better job of winning than I was.
We met so many nice people on this cruise. There were people from other states but most of us were Texans. One really nice man named James Archer was from College Station, Texas just 25 miles from my house. He and his wife Elizabeth own LTJ’s Rustic Furniture and Accessories store in Bryan which is a sister city to College Station. James made a point of visiting with us every day, but then again most Texans are friendly. If you need a friend, meet a Texan. You can check out their store on Facebook.
On September 24th we docked in Belize. We woke up feeling lazy again and decided to stay on the boat. Marie and her husband, Chuck had been there a year ago and hiked through the rain forest and took a speed boat ride. I had been before also and we had not taken this cruise to shop. I’m sure everyone had a great time including Marie and me. We went to the Bar on the third deck and Marie went to the Lido deck and got us pizza to eat from The Pizza Pirate. I swear it was the best pizza I have ever eaten. The crust was thin and very crispy. I recommend it. Take a Carnival cruise, get the pizza.
That evening it was back to the casino. We had great slot hosts and hostesses. Ramona and Allan were very attentive and had chocolate covered strawberries delivered to our cabin.
We also had a hostess named Maridane who was so sweet and friendly and encouraging. We hope that in the future we will meet them all again on another cruise. Not much to write about at the casino this evening. But we had a heck of a good time.
On September 25th we docked in Honduras. Guess what we did that day? Yep you got it. We stayed on the boat. We should have booked a spa day like we have done before, but we didn’t. Carnival actually has a cruise named the Cruise to Nowhere. So I guess you could say we were on it. Marie did actually take pictures off of our balcony of the port of Honduras and it is beautiful. I’m sure people had fun and had some delicious food and drinks. I know I did when I went there before.
That evening I played the Triple Game Quick Hit. There were 3 machines together and I met a beautiful lady from Tyler, Texas named Martha Larison who was playing the machine to my left. She is a retired school teacher and spends a lot of time traveling. She also knows a good friend of mine from Tyler named Debbie Johnson. Such a small world sometimes. The lady to my right was Terry Briggs. For a while the three of us had our machines hitting bonuses at the same time. Here is a video I took of one of my bonuses. Another lady was cheering me on named Tina. So sweet and hope to run into her again.
I think this is one of the newer slots. There are so many new slots coming out including new versions of some of your favorites. When you get a chance, check out Diana Evoni’s Blog Las Vegas Daze.com. Diana lives in San Jose, California and goes to las Vegas monthly and writes a very informative and entertaining blog about everything Vegas from scrumptious food pictures, slot videos and people she meets on her adventures.
That night we ate at Cucina Del Capitano. It was delicious. I try to eat gluten free because sometimes I am gluten sensitive. They had a gluten free pasta and bread. I had Pasta Carbonara which was excellent. Marie had Nona’s meatballs and pasta. This restaurant was one of the specialty restaurants so the price was not covered under our tickets, but it was only $15.00 each. It’s hard to complain about that. It included appetizer entrée and dessert. Dessert was a lemon sorbet and Tiramisu.
The next two days were at sea days. But we didn’t change our schedule much. We still relaxed and rested and played and ate wonderful food. We visited with old friends and new friends. We did have brunch on Saturday and the Eggs Benedict and mimosas were delicious. Every day except the last day was smooth as glass. The last full day was just a little roll now and then, but barely noticeable.
The last night we each received a certificate from Carnival for a free cruise for up to 15 days. Those are booked already. Marie and Chuck are going to Jamaica and Grand Cayman. Marie and I are using mine after Christmas for Turks and Caicos, Curacao and Aruba. In the spring we will make our annual Albertson’s Monopoly Game trip and go out of Long Beach, California on a Mexican Riviera cruise to Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan. This trip is courtesy of Eldorado casino in Shreveport, Louisiana. Then we can visit even more Albertson stores because we will go all the way to Los Angeles. Hopefully we will be luckier than we were this year. Check back with us on these trips. Also later in this month we will be at the Horseshoe in Bossier City. We are so close to Diamond status so we will be giving it our best shot.
Slotsisters Dianne and Marie