Wednesday, April 25, 2012

shanghai on red

For the past week our ship has been crippled.  At least its revenue has.

Just before we set sail, the cruise company announced some areas of the ship would be closed for refurbishing the ship for the Asian market.  One closure in particular caused a real brouhaha on the message board -- the casino.  It was scheduled to be closed for at least the first eight days of the cruise.

I cruise for live entertainment.  And, other than the stories I harvest in the casino, it has no interest for me.

But there appears to be a large contingent of cruisers who think going to sea is a chance to lose the grandchildren’s inheritance with one last slot pull.

For the ship, it has mean the loss of foregone betting.  Assuming, gamblers operate on an economic model.

But that changed last Saturday night.  The casino threw open its doors to -- well, a less than overwhelming crowd.  I walked through a half hour after it opened.

Waiters were there with trays of cheap sparkling wine.  Officers stood at the ready to greet the prodigal crowd.  But there was no crowd.

Gambling is not my vice. But the place looked good.  In a gaudy trailer trash way.  Just like most casinos.

The big change was the removal of banks of slot machines.  In their place are at least 15 new tables.  Along with blackjack, baccarat,    roulette,  poker, and (a new one for me) sicbo, The casino is now primarily a table game house.  But there is still a good representation of video poker and slots.

The most notable addition is a mid-roller room with three baccarat tables.  Where those so inclined to bet $10,000 can feel at home.

For gamblers who find that amount to be chump change, the former cigar room is in the process of being converted to a stratospheric roller room.  If I remember correctly, the limit is $50,000.  Give or take ten grand.

If you missed my subtle reference earlier, this ship is soon to ply Asian waters where gambling is serious business.  Especially by wealthy Chinese from the People’s Republic.

And that is irony on stilts.  Royal Caribbean once based its cruise experience on egalitarian principles.  The cabins may have varied in size, but the rest of the ship was open to everyone with little regard for wallet size.

That attitude started changing with Americans who cruised often wanting to be treated better than The Others.  Special check-in lines.  Restricted seating areas and parties.  All of the attributes of gas station royalty.

And now the Red Chinese are showing what a true class system should look like.  If you thought Titanic was a Marxist screenplay, just wait until you see the real thing played out on a baccarat cruise table.

It may be worth another trip to China to get a better view.  You can bet on that.


John Calypso said...

Surprised to see you were allowed to take photos inside the casino - not something you will get away with in Las Vegas - someone might be with someone else's spouse don't you know. ;-0  Maybe it was a grand opening thing or before it was open - as it does look quite empty.

Steve Cotton said...

 Oddly empty.  The crowds have picked up a bit.  Maybe the gamblers spent their money on the internet packages.

Penny said...

Hello Steve, thanks for the running commentary on cruise life. 

 Check TZ, and you'll see a comical Wichita post all about YOU. 

Steve Cotton said...

Glad to know you are reading. I will probably need to wait two weeks before I can get on TomZap. But Witchita did send me a PM that I believe is the gist of his post. It will be fun to read,

Peripheral Comment Jones said...

This post is starting to read a bit like some kind of sociological analysis of cruise society.  Is there a lonely crowd on board who is bowling alone?  Are the consumer stratifications really defining the metaphysics of life on the ship?  And where do you as disinterested observer fit in to all this?  Do you move about the ship like a phantom anthropologist?

Steve Cotton said...

 Like Margaret Mead, I wander amongst the natives -- becaped and besticked.