on the High Seas…
Story and photos by Dr. Michael Lim The Travelling GourmetTM
All rights reserved
This is a true story.
Mariner of the Seas in the Andaman Sea (RCCL)
Image copyright Dr. Michael Lim The Travelling GourmetTM
All rights reserved
The indomitable and intrepid Travelling Gourmet goes on a voyage and meets Lady Luck in…
MESMERIZING Casino Royale…
Sandwiched between Schooner Lounge Bar and Boleros Bar (I wonder why?) on the largest cruise ship in Asia…the majestic Mariner of the Seas has a Casino. Named after the book by Ian Fleming, which was made into two James Bond movies, one starring David Niven and the exquisitely ravishing Ursula Andress…and the other starring the ugliest and shortest 007 ever, aesthetically challenged Daniel Craig, whose face looks like a dried wrinkly prune, that would not taste nice if you had the misfortune to eat it.
The night was very young and after a gourmet dinner, cooked by skilful Executive Chef James Zhong & his team in the grand Dining Room, which covers THREE levels, complete with titanic chandeliers, glittering like Cartier diamonds, I decided to have a ‘digestif’.
The usual after-dinner ‘digestif’ is a Scotch Whisky like Macallan 25 year old single malt, or a very good French XO Cognac, like Hennessy. I decided on a Bellini with Prosecco di Valdobbiadene…Frankly, I prefer my cocktails wet…and stirred not shaken. Actually Ian Fleming and James Bond 007 got it wrong…The correct way to make a Vodka martini is stirred, NOT shaken..so the cocktail remains crystal clear and not cloudy…
The Casino was a bustling hive of activity with young teenagers, older than the legal limit, but only just, old grandpas and grandmas, yuppies and high rollers. There were ladies and gentlemen, but alas, most were not well dressed. I did a quiet recon strolling around. All casinos are the same. You have seen one…you have seen them all. There were the slot machines. They used to be called ‘one arm bandits’ but no more…now you just press a button…AND SEE THE LEMONS, CHERRIES AND OTHER FRUITS SPIN…many gamblers were starring glassy-eyed at their cards and the whirling fruits on the slot machines. Mesmerized. They had automated Tai-Sai too with giant dice in a clear perspex hemisphere. Baccarat, Blackjack, Poker, 5 Card Stud, Casino Royale had it all. All Casinos have the power the “hypnotize” the gamers. The gamblers’ greed and desire for a fast, easy buck…is their weakness…sometimes fatal.
I settled for that classy game…Roulette. I like Roulette. The only Roulette I don’t like is Russian Roulette. I don’t mind though if the gun is pointed at someone else…The croupiers were very professional…well trained. One of the secrets is…you have to study how much force they use to spin the wheel among other things…which I shall NOT share with you. The Casino had kindly given me US$10 to gamble! Amazing but true. I bet on the next spin. The wheel spun…the white ball jumped and skipped and clattered and rattled. The gamblers, including a very fat Indian gentleman glued their eyes on the wheel and the little white ball, mesmerized...Finally it came to a stop.
Number 18, red. I had won. The young PRC croupier smiled and gave me my winnings, a US$10 chip. I told him, “Quit while you are ahead…” The croupier chuckled, showing a set of gleaming teeth and said, “Yes, you deserved to win!” I strolled to the cashier and cashed it in. I was richer, not a lot richer…but richer nonetheless. To me, that is the point.
“You got to know when to hold up,
know when to fold up,
know when to walk away,
know when to run,
You never count your money,
when you’re sitting at the table…
There’ll be time enough for counting…
When the dealings done…
Who Dares Wins!
For the rest of the cruise, I never gambled in Casino Royale again.
Bonne chance! 🙂
Kenny Rogers sings his immortal song…The Gambler