Carnival Splendor: B-I-N-G-Oh dear, we have a new hobby.
It's not like I'd never played bingo before. Elementary school, camp... in theory during meetings. (Making buzzword bingo cards to use while watching FoodTV is one of my summer goals. Mike's first suggestion? "It pops.")

I don't remember how we wandered into our first bingo game on Carnival Splendor. We'd talked about it in advance, how maybe we should try it while on the ship, and then maybe we'd be more comfortable trying it in a casino. (Where we'd once squinted at all the rules and options for a good 60 seconds before fleeing.)

The timing was right on our second sea day, and after that we were hooked. Granted, one of the hooks was that our first session was "Bargain" Bingo (a triple-set of cards at $10 or one card for $5). Another hook is that we played several games on that set of cards. And the third hook is that we didn't have to play with our own money, having $240 in promotional onboard credit that was in danger (Mike's feeling) of being halved by a luxurious hour spent in a couples session in the spa's mud lounge.

Bingo on the ship was always held in the "Spectacular, Spectacular" showroom.

Showroom Chandelier (Carnival Splendor)

The cards can be reused because, instead of inking them up with a dauber (notice my fancy bingo lingo), you push out the center, like a pop-top.

Bingo Cards (Carnival Splendor)

Then, when the game ends, you re-flatten the card so it looks new.

Ready for Bingo (Carnival Splendor)

(Actually, Mike is holding up unused cards, but I wanted an excuse to use the picture.)

Everyone seemed to be a good sport at each of our sessions, even the people of a certain demographic who would buy armfuls of bingo cards for each person in their party. (The vagueness is partially me being sensitive, and partially me wondering if everyone has their own idea of what kind of person is a rabid bingo player.)

At least one person did leave behind their losing bingo cards as, perhaps, a warning to others. (Other people or other bingo cards, I'm not sure.)

Leavings of the Unpleased (Carnival Splendor)

I get that move, because that photo was taken after our second bingo session, and by "session" I mean "two measly games." Sometimes the Capers say that there will be seven games, or a single game to win a cruise (there's a story - but it has to wait until I describe the trivia games), or a single coverall game... and sometimes the Capers just say "Bingo." We were lucky that our first session had so many games. I don't think we would have plonked down $20 of even other people's money for two games of bingo and a prize of a few hundred dollars if we'd known.

The only unpleasantness aside, the showroom uses two large screens to help players keep track of numbers called and the winning formation.

Bingo, Bingo, Get Your Daubers Out (Carnival Splendor)

Adding to the fun was (usually) Assistant Cruise Director Leslie, a hearty blonde from Britain, who would play a special bingo song (which has its own domain but no sample to preview) and instruct us to, in our "best British voices" call out "Goooooooot it!" when one of our numbers came up. (Our collective voices seemed to be Monty Python in its shrillest drag.)

During one session she us to stand up when we had only a single number left. Mike shook his head at me, AS IF, but just about lost his pants a few minutes later when he was the first one up.

But we never won - that four-square postage stamp formation is nobody's friend! - yet we had lots of fun and now looked forward to trying bingo when returning to Vegas.

It took a week of post-cruise solemnity to pass, but this past Sunday we headed out to South Point, a place we hadn't been in forever, for the 9 p.m. bingo.

Quick list of things we learned:

  • A couple can't share a card or set of cards. Everyone must have his or her own bingo cards.
  • And, to purchase the cards, you must have his or her own slot club cards. So, it sucks to be you if you were counting on using your husband's slot club card and now must go all the way back downstairs and get a reprint of your own card before the game begins.
  • Buying bingo cards on a cruise ship in no way prepares you for buying bingo cards at a casino. Blue, red, green, tan. Small rainbow. Large rainbow. Free add-ons. Discounts for special combinations. Validated. Non-validated. Electronic? Please state the letter of the package you wish to buy.
  • In movies, classrooms are quiet and attentive, and bingo parlors are festive social zones. In Las Vegas, swap that. You could have heard a pin glint in the tobacky-stained light.
  • The cards you buy are for "an hour's worth" of play, which ends up being 14ish games (I lost count).
  • Most "locals" casinos have daily bingo on the odd-numbered hour, usually from 9am-11pm. The Cannery casinos have it on the evens. Arizona Charlie's goes all night, but I'm scared of Arizona Charlie's, because I'm snobby.
  • There is a local casino bingo periodical - check the racks by the door - and it is full of ads for freebies. Nobody told us about this untapped market of casino freebies!
  • Which is my way of saying that I am all about the free commemorative Betty Boop daubers at Texas Station in two weeks.
  • I have no idea where daubers otherwise come from, because we played electronically. The people we saw with daubers seemed to have their own. Picture Exhibit A, "small group with twelve daubers in varying colours, stamp-shapes, and amount of glitter."

We ended up playing electronically because the nice (British - it's a trend!) lady behind the counter assured us we'd get much more bang for the buck that way. (She was right. We'd decided to get a small paper rainbow pack for $12 each. But, she was able to hook us up with a $16 deal that was two small rainbow packs, all validated, plus a free "blue" pack, plus an electronic unit. I still can't find this on the menu.)

"Grab a unit. Enter your ticket number. Press the button to always view your three best cards. Pay attention when it beeps because then you're just one number away. And if starts playing You're in the Money, then raise your arm and yell BINGO!"

South Point Bingo Thingie

Above is my unit, after stumbling into a way to change the wallpaper to a pretty flower. Awww, I didn't discover the other games on it (solitaire) until after the session.

The one thing in common with the cruise is that once again we didn't win a single game, although now and again we had the thrill of beeping. With so many cards in a rainbow pack, I was glad we weren't playing on paper, although you'd think that just waiting for a machine to beep would take all of the fun out of things. Not at all. The machines gave us a chance to look around, relax, take in the types of people playing (I'm not going to go there), wish the smoking section was a few more room lengths away, and wonder who you have to know to get one of the fancy permanent monitors. Are there bingo VIPs?

Mike at South Point's Bingo Room

Sixteen dollars (each) is fine for a first-timer's adventure, but if we're going to play regularly (and that's all we could talk about when the session ended), we'll probably have to stick to the cheapie paper packs. These seem to start at $4/person for a blue pack, which at first looked cruddy because you can only win $50 with blue cards ($100 green, $150 red, $200 tan - I may have switched red and green there), but there are some double-your-win games, so it's only semi-cruddy.

Or not cruddy at all if you lose, and you're only out four dollars. Plus, anybody can win the coverall game for the jackpot. (About $4000 at our session, and nobody did. You have to win within 33 numbers.)

(Then there's the agony of deciding whether to pay another dollar for "validation," which means that if you call bingo right after that session's "cash ball" comes up, you get $1000. Or something like that.)

We haven't played bingo since Sunday, but it's been a busy week what with Mike's biometrics appointment (his green card renewal is up), M resort's breakfast buffet (fresh, quiet), M resort's cafe (I recommend the chicken ciabatta sandwich without chicken), and a surprising 3 a.m. showing of Harry Potter at Sunset Station last night (3 a.m.?!). We've also been too busy for bingo because we've been sleeping or staggering the rest of the day when bingo is on. Bummer. I love summer break, but I do so hate summer in the heartless desert. If you've got the option, why not keep all your wakeful moments to the cooler hours? (Says she who always feels defensive about daysleeping.)

Since I couldn't find the bingo song (but I can sing it - "Bingo, Bingo, Get your daubers out!"), we'll have some sizzlin' Tom Jones to finish this post instead. Carnival Splendor showed a few concerts during the cruise on the big screen out by the Lido pool, including the Beach Boys, Beyonce, and Tom Jones, so there's your connection. Also, I just (reluctantly but eventually) really like the song. Thank you, Leslie-the-Assistant-CD and Carnival Splendor for putting the boing in our bingo ambitions. You're the bomb!

(But not like in the song below. Unless... don't you think it's possible to change "sex bomb, sex bomb, you're a sex bomb" to "bin-go, bin-go, I've got bin-go!" and get an even newer and cooler bingo song? I should tweet Weird Al about this.)

16 July 2009 |