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A Gambling Sundae

I took a trip on the SunCruz casino boat in Little River this weekend. I’m not a big gambler but I’d been wanting to give this a try. Last Friday night worked out so I made the quick drive to Little River and headed out.

I have tried to sum this trip up with few words and I just can’t seem to do it. This was a great, big, crazy, wild, funny, new, entertaining trip.

I forgot to take my camera on this little excursion. Plus, they don’t allow cameras inside the casino so bear with me while a paint you a mental picture. If you would, think of the boat as a big, floating ice cream sundae….

The base of our sundae is a 3 stories tall 200 ft. long, metal boat. Toss in 3 full scoops of slot machines, a scoop of table games, add in the buffet dinner, pour alcohol over the whole thing then whip out your can of cigarette smoke and top it off. If you take your spoon and look around in this sundae, you’ll find your share of people puking from sea sickness, very nice SunCruz employees, and I have to admit, buried among all this are quite a few people winning some money. Honestly, this trip was a hoot.

First I’ll try to give you a general description of the boat and the night then we’ll talk about the good and the bad.

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First, you stop at the ticket office on shore and buy your ticket. My ticket was 10.00 since I had a coupon. Next, you head down the ramp, show your ticket and ID to some SunCruz employees, go through the metal detector, and climb on board. Once on board, you’re greeted by a room with table games in the middle and surrounded on the outside by slots. While on board I saw five, twenty-five, one dollar and five dollar slot machines. Most people head to the line forming to get their player’s club card and their dinner ticket or they head to claim their favorite slot machine or seat at a table.

I headed up to the second and third floors to check out the lay of the land. And yes, the James Bond theme is playing in my head as I smoothly peruse the casino floor, looking to see where my big winnings will come from. If I remember correctly, the second floor was all various types of slot machines. The third floor was slot machines, a Texas hold ’em area and seating areas. There was also an outside deck at the top of the boat.

The schedule for the night went something like this…It takes an hour to get to ‘international waters’. Once there, they fire up the slots, and the casino is open. Then, at the end of the night (around midnight) they shut it all down and there’s an hour ride back in to port.

The hour before the casino opens is a bit boring. Veterans of the cruise (and newcomers) were staking claim to their ‘favorite’ slot machines and seats at the tables, people were getting their player’s club cards and the buffet line was long. I enjoyed the scenery out on deck while heading out to sea.

Once we hit open ocean, the picture indoors began to change a bit. Some of the passengers suddenly began to regret that trip through the buffet line.

During the day on Friday, we had been hit with some pretty strong thunderstorms. I don’t know if this hurt the ocean conditions, but it was a bit rough. The rough seas, combined with the ship moving us out to ‘gambling water’ as quickly as possible made for a bit of a bumpy ride. Quite a few people were sick. Some over the edge of the boat, some in the trash cans, some other places. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a middle aged drunk guy with poker chips in one hand, a drink in the other, bent over calling a Buick in the trash can and then jumping up and saying ‘let it ride!’….priceless.

Once the casino opened, I hit the slots for awhile and then the 3 card poker table. I had a good time, won a little money, then lost a little, then won a little, then lost it all.

I spent the end of the night watching people play video Keno and taking in Sportscenter on ESPN.

Here are my thoughts on the night:

1.The SunCruz employees were great. They were all extremely courteous and helpful. The dealers at the table games were helpful. They’ll help you out with play and even give you a bit of advice if you have questions. They were very quick to offer drinks while gaming and provided prompt service.
2.I didn’t eat dinner on board so I can’t speak to the quality of the food. From what I could tell, it looked like your standard ‘buffet’ type fare. On my next trip, I don’t think I would eat on board. I didn’t hear many good things about the food. Plus, I think it’s better for my stomach to eat ahead of time.
3.The slots seemed a bit tight. In all fairness though, I did see two ladies win quite a bit of money on a couple of spins.
4.Set your expectations correctly before you take the trip. This is a big, tacky, noisy gambling experience. Be realistic. A trip aboard a luxury liner, this is not. However, if you wanna gamble, it gets the job done.
5.I didn’t play any Texas hold ’em on this trip. I’ll probably give it and the roulette wheel a try next trip.
6.Will I go back? Probably so. I did a night cruise this time. Next trip I’ll do the day cruise. I’d say it’s a once every six months type event.

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