Of course it could be photos of, "animals we found stuck on the bow of the ship."
Unfortunately, I didn't get a shot from the right angle to show "Junior" trying to push Papa into the pool. And no, I would not buy a ticket for an up close and personal encounter with a live one of these critters. Dolphins, maybe, but not Ursus maritimus.
Cruise Line: Monarch
Ship: Monarch Sun
Today's Casino Chip of the Day comes from the very first ship that my wife and I cruised on, the one that housed the very first casino that I played in way back in the late summer of 1976. I was not a chip collector then, or at least I didn't know I was, but I did keep one from that ship's casino as a souvenir of the trip. The ship itself had quite a convoluted history.
The ship first sailed as the Brasil (yes, they used the Portuguese spelling) in September 1958 for the Moore-McCormack Lines, running routes between New York and South America, stopping at islands along the way, until 1969. Then, the Brasil and sister ship Argentina were taken out of service "temporarily" for repairs. Corporate head William T. Moore stated that the ships could not be operated profitably, noting that the crew outnumbered passengers 3 to 2.
In 1972, Holland America purchased both ships, refurbished them, and renamed them the Volendam and Veendam, names that had been used on earlier ships. It only took a couple of years for Holland America to concur that the ships could not be operated profitably, particularly in light of their poor fuel economy and rapid oil price increases in that period. Holland America sold them (some sources say "leased" them) to a small company named Monarch Cruise Lines, which renamed them the Monarch Sun and Monarch Star.
Monarch operated the two ships on cruises from Miami to the Bahamas and Caribbean from 1975 to 1978, and that was the period when my wife and I sailed for four nights on the Monarch Sun, stopping in Freeport and Nassau.
To the surprise of most in the industry, Monarch ran the ships profitably. The folks at Holland America were so impressed, they bought the whole company in 1978, changing the ships' names back to Volendam and Veendam.
The Brasil/Volendam/Monarch Sun/Volendam was sold several more times over the next two decades, taking on the names Island Sun, Liberté, Canada Star, Queen of Bermuda, Enchanted Seas, and Universe Explorer. She was beached for salvage in December 2004 after sailing under charter to World Explorer Cruises from New Commodore Cruise Lines.
Ship history trivia of the day: While the Universe Explorer was en route from Juneau to Glacier Bay, Alaska, on July 27, 1996 carrying 732 passengers and 274 crewmembers, a fire started in the main laundry room. Five crewmembers on Aloha Deck died from smoke inhalation, and 55 crewmembers and 1 passenger sustained injuries. Damage was estimated at $1.5 million. The ship underwent repairs in Vancouver.
It is difficult for me to comprehend how a cruise ship that had been declared unprofitable to operate in 1969 could have continued to sail commercially for another 35 years.
I have found some 21st century references on the web to a Monarch Cruise Line sailing the Greek Isles and to a Monarch Cruise Line and Hospitality Training Center, which may exist in Bali, but I don't know whether either one has any connection to the company that operated the Monarch Sun.
When my wife and I sailed the ship in 1976, the casino was tiny and consisted of a few blackjack tables, one roulette table, and a single cashier's window, so far as I can remember. I played blackjack, knowing nothing about basic strategy or any other kind. I do recall that the table minimum was $2.
The entire staff of the casino was Korean, or at least Asian – I'm not astute enough to be able to recognize Asians by country. I asked one of the dealers about that makeup of the staff, and he said that they had all graduated from a dealers' school in Korea. In 1982, my wife and I were on our third cruise and our second trip with Carnival, that time on the Carnivale. One of the casino's pit supervisors was Asian and looked familiar, so I asked whether he had worked on the Monarch Sun. Yes, he had, and he got a little excited that someone remembered him. He pointed out another dealer and said she had also been on the Monarch Sun.
The gray Monarch Sun chip shown below is from the DIECARD mold and is hot stamped in gold with the ship's name, the denomination, and two sun emblems. With the low durability I have seen on other hot stamped labels, I am surprised that this one looks so good. I guess it may not have had very much play.
As for the chip's source, well, that's a little complicated and depends on whether you mean who manufactured it or who designed and sold it. I took the following quote on the history of Bud Jones – the man, his companies, and his products – from an article at this site:
Quote: David Spragg
Bernard "Bud" Jones was born in Kansas City in 1915. After working in the dice manufacturing industry for two decades he moved to Nevada with his family in the mid 1950's. He founded the Bud Jones Co. in 1965 and also traded as The Nevada Dice Co. until the mid 1970's when he put his name on that company also.
Bud designed the "NEVADA" mold in 1965 and the "DIECARD" mold in 1971. The Burt Co. had the molds made for BJ and then made chips to his orders. While BJ owned the molds they would have resided at the Burt Co. Bud Jones never actually made chips from the molds. It is believed the molds cost around $40,000 each to make at that time.
The DIECARD mold consists of 4 repetitions of the "four aces" separated by 4 repetitions of the "2 and 5 dice". Chips from this mold are coin aligned and therefore the same on both sides.
While I don't have any of my own photos of the Monarch Sun to offer today, there is a web page here that shows postcards of this ship under most of the names and paint styles that it bore over its lifetime.
Without seeing junior in the background, that REALLY looks like papa is about to pee on that dude. Just saying...
How do we know it's, "papa"?
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Vision of the Seas
I have mentioned previously that my wife and I first learned of repositioning cruises when I started looking into Alaska cruises too late in the summer season of 2004. Our trip that September was on the Royal Caribbean Vision of the Seas, which had just finished a series of cruises out of Vancouver to Alaska. The ship was constructed for Royal Caribbean and first sailed in 1998. It is one of those ships I described before with the huge atriums that were all the rage at that time, this one extending from deck 4 to deck 8.
Royal Caribbean is corporately affiliated with Celebrity Cruises, though I haven't bothered to search the history of that. I thought we received the same fine level of service and amenities on the Vision of the Seas that we later learned to expect on Celebrity ships.
We spent twelve nights on board the ship, with the first half of the cruise being open water sailing on the way to Hawaii. My wife quickly began to wonder how the "Pacific" got its name, since the first two or three days of that cruise provided the roughest water we had ever encountered on a cruise. I couldn't blame that on the cruise line, and apparently it was a very unusual situation.
Most passengers were experiencing mal de mer to a very serious degree. The staff had distributed supplies of barf bags to convenient pick-up points all around the ship. We also heard from several staff members who had been at sea for years and were experiencing disabling effects of the motion for the very first time. Things finally calmed down, and we had a peaceful trip on into our 50th state.
One thing I noticed on that semi-trans-Pacific sailing that I had never paid attention to on previous cruises was the number of birds that took the trip with us. They lived on the upper decks and even in the "rafters" of the solarium. I don't have any idea where they originated – Vancouver, Alaska, or some port the ship had visited two years previously. Perhaps they were third or tenth-generation residents of the ship. Sometimes they would fly along side the ship for a while before coming back to ride once again. Seemed like a lazy bird's approach to migration, but then I wasn't rowing the route myself either.
Once we reached Hawaii, we spent our first two days on opposite sides of the Big Island, at Hilo and Kailua Kona. The third day we were in Nawiliwili on Kauai, where we took a river cruise and visited a lovely fern grotto. Rather than posting a photo of that, I'll offer as my travel snapshot of the island this view of the 151 ft. Opaeka'a Falls, which we viewed shortly before embarking on the river cruise to the grotto.
According to that most reliable of sources:
The name Opaeka'a means "rolling shrimp," ʻopae being Hawaiian for "shrimp," and kaʻa for "rolling". The name dates back to days when the native freshwater shrimp Atyoida bisulcata were plentiful in the stream and were seen rolling and tumbling down the falls and into the churning waters at the fall's base.
After leaving Kauai, we headed to Lahaina on Maui, where we attended a tropical plantation luau, and a nice show of Hawaiian music and dance.
While I was sitting at the luau table, I was wearing a Georgia Tech cap. A thirty-something young lady, who was also attending the luau with the group from the ship, approached me and asked whether I had attended the school. When I confirmed that, she said she was also a Tech graduate and was taking the cruise with her parents.
I asked her a few questions about her graduation year and her major, and it took less than a minute for us to confirm that she had actually been a student in a class that I had taught some 15 years or so earlier. Of course, we had not recognized each other, but it's further proof of what a small world we live in. Zero degrees of separation for a chance encounter at a luau in Hawaii? Is that even possible?
Our final stop on that cruise was in Honolulu on the island of Oahu. We were there for a full day and night, flying home the next day. We took two tours in Honolulu, one covering natural highlights, like Diamond Head, and the other going to the USS Arizona Memorial.
I spent a good bit of time at the craps table on the ship during our cruise, but that was long before I started maintaining records of my gaming sessions – other than keeping a souvenir chip.
The chip shown below is a mostly-blue ceramic chip from Chipco International. The stylized anchor emblem in the 9 o'clock position is the Royal Caribbean logo, though the name of the line does not appear on the chip, only the name of the ship.
The two dominant items in the design appear to be drawn from that compilation of folk tales from Asia, "One Thousand and One Nights." The tales were tied together and published under the theme of having been told by Scheherazade to her husband, the Persian king, leaving him in suspense each night anticipating the ending. Thus, he did not execute her in the morning, as had been his practice with previous wives the morning after their marriage, to prevent their infidelity.
Both the story of Aladdin's lamp and the story of the magic flying carpet eventually were included in that collection. I can't recall having read the set of stories, but I don't remember the rider of the carpet being female.
This is the last of my cruise ship chips, until the next cruise, so tomorrow we will begin yet another category for this thread.
I have a couple of photos of the Vision of the Seas to offer here, but neither of them shows much other than the ship. I would have to go back and check just which islands I was standing on when I took these, and I don't think I'll bother.
City: Funchal, Madiera, Portugal
Casino: Casino da Madeira
Today, we begin a new category – the 23rd category for this thread – to cover the very few European casinos that I have ever visited. In fact, my current collection – 346 chips from casinos I have visited and one chip that I received as a gift from a forum member – will be exhausted a little later this week.
The 21-night cruise that my wife and I took last October/November made its last European stop at the Portuguese island of Madeira, located 400 or 500 miles off the coast of Morocco and 250 or 300 miles north of the Canary Islands. The ship made port in the autonomous region's capital of Funchal.
My wife and I left the ship in mid-morning, planning to do a walking tour of the town. Just as we reached the bottom of the gangway and entered the building on the pier, the skies opened up and dumped a torrential storm on the area. We tried to wait it out, but it seemed to have plenty of endurance, so we just scampered back aboard the ship.
Several hours later, the torrent had changed to a mist, covered with a very dark cloud pack, but my wife said it still looked too threatening to warrant another venture out. I decided to try it alone and made the trek of about a mile each way just to check out the local casino. The casino and an adjoining hotel are at the top of a bluff overlooking the harbor, and the back of the hotel was visible from the ship. It was within direct line of sight, but I had to walk around the harbor and climb a fairly significant hill to get to the casino's front door on the opposite side.
The weather and the trek were both opposed to my taking my camera along, so I didn't get my own shot of the place, but I found this link to a page with someone else's photo. Have a look if you like. Note: that page sometimes takes a while to load.
Along with its display of chips from the casino, the MOGH catalog includes a history of the casino and gaming in Portugal. I don't know the source of this text, but it seems to be written by a non-native speaker of English, or perhaps it is a computer translation of a Portuguese document.
Quote: MOGH catalog
The game was legalized in Portugal in 1927, being allowed in Estoril, Madeira Island, Espinho, Curia, Sintra (never opened), Santa Luzia (never opened), Figueira da Foz and Praia da Rocha. Will be granted, for given period. The Madeira Island area is considered permanent (open all year). The gambling was awarded in 1928 to Companhia de Turismo da Madeira. Casino was installed in the Casino Vitoria, whose facilities were remodeled. In 1936, after the close of the gambling in the previous year, the gambling was awarded to Sociedade de Turismo 1936, which opens new installations at Quinta Vigia, the premises of the former Casino Pavão (peacock). Around 1970´s the casino was then installed in temporarily premises, settled when is today the Congress Center, until the opening of the current building in 1979.
That may not be as smooth a description of the history as I would like, but it is better than anything else I was likely to dig up. The only reference to this casino that I found on Wikipedia was the page listing the works of the Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, who designed the building while on a 20-year, self-imposed exile related to a conflict between his leftist positions and the right-wing military dictatorship that existed in Brazil.
The very few European casinos that I have visited were using chips marked in Euros at the time of my visit, but I never saw a €1 chip anywhere. I kept a souvenir chip of the smallest denomination I encountered at each casino.
Today's chip, which I acquired while losing €50 at blackjack at the Casino da Madeira, is very different from any other chip in my collection. The MOGH catalog shows it on a page of "jetons" so perhaps that is the proper name. I think that is the French word and that it is "jetton" in English, so I'll use that spelling.
This green plastic €2,5 jetton from Funchal was made by Bourgogne-et-Grasset, which might justify the French spelling of the currency name, and the BG logo appears at about the 4 o'clock position. It has three pink edge inserts, if that's the proper term on a jetton, and it has a non-uniform thickness, as is evident in the second image.
The Gaming Partners International web site says that their "B&G plaques and jetons are the industry standard for European gaming currency because they combine aesthetic appeal, reliability, and security." Among the several security options that they list is serialization, and my chip does have its own engraved serial number on the perimeter, directly below the denomination mark. Though I'm not sure you can read the number completely in the photo, if you click on the small image to get the larger one, you should at least be able to see that there are figures engraved there.