In this final installment of our Norwegian Jewel review series, I review our experiences playing blackjack in the casino. We were on a comped cruise with Norwegian’s Casinos at Sea program.
My activities in the Jewel casino were restricted to the blackjack tables. I had learned basic strategy using a couple of Iphone apps, and I was eager to try them out in a real casino under the tutelage of my cruising partner A., who is an expert BJ player. I sat next to him and cleared all my moves with him before I did anything. I only played at the $25 table, although A. played at several tables and also played some the other table games.
There were several low-stake blackjack tables, where all the cards were dealt from a continuous shuffle machine. We stayed away from those. The $6 minimum bet table would have been fine for my practicing, if I hadn’t had A. there to guide me. There were only two tables that didn’t use the CSMs. The $25 table and the $100 table both dealt out of 8-deck shoes. I spent all my time at the $25, and A. spent most of his time there, but played on the $100 table several times.
The play at the $25 table was a little fast for me. There are many distractions at the table that I hadn’t had to deal with previously while practicing on the computer. Players were making side bets, and I had a hard time keeping up with the chip denominations, especially when blackjack was paid out 3 to 2. (For example, if you’re betting $25, and you get blackjack, you’ll receive $37.50 in chips.) There were also slight variations in the rules that I had learned; for example, you are not allowed to surrender. I would get flustered when other players deviated from basic strategy. Perhaps those players WERE counting cards!
The play was fast and furious, and my nerves only allowed for about an hour’s play at a time. We enjoyed talking with the dealers, but not so much with the pit bosses, who acted like, well….pit bosses! A. was pleased with the casino, and regretted that he hadn’t brought more money. We asked the casino host about using our sea pass cards to get cash advances on our credit cards, but she explained that there would be a 3% fee to do so. Fortunately the cash we had on hand turned out to be sufficient.
We also had Ultimate Beverage Packages comped, but you can’t get specialty coffees, energy drinks, or bottled waters with it. Fortunately we also received a casino drink card where we could order those extra items while in the casino. If we wanted a glass of wine, we showed the sea pass cards with “UBP” written on it. If we wanted a Perrier or a cappuccino, we showed the casino drink card. In the late afternoon or late at night there was a small buffet with cocktail sandwiches and fruit set up at the bar.
We suffered a net loss on our playing, but nothing too serious. A few weeks after we returned, I called Casinos at Sea to see whether or not we qualified for another comped cruise. They looked at our hours of play, and our actual and theoretical losses. They said that I had only played for 2 1/2 hours (I think it was much more!) and that my actual loss was $90, and my theoretical loss was $800. I didn’t qualify for a free cruise based on my low hours of play.
A. was the one who got the comped cruise to begin with, and I was just his guest on this cruise. So I wasn’t surprised that I wasn’t offered a freebie. A., however, DOES qualify for another comped cruise. I don’t want to go into his real and theoretical losses here, but his level of play, and the fact that he played for over 11 hours qualifies him for another free cruise. I appreciated that the Casinos at Sea rep was so forthcoming about the statistics that they held on us, and how they were determining who gets comped and who doesn’t. He said that if I had played for a few more hours that I would get comped too.
If you are interested in how we got the comped cruise, read this post about the Hard Rock Casino offer.
If you want to know more about how you book the cruise through Casinos at Sea read this post.
This is the final post in our review of our Mexican Riviera cruise on the Norwegian Jewel. The other posts in this series are: