There must be something about casinos at sea. Perhaps because they have no competition, they don’t have to offer particularly good odds. I wrote last year that I did not enjoy the service or the rules in the casino on the Liberty of the Seas. The Norwegian Sky casino was a nice space with much friendlier staff, but the table rules and electronic blackjack rules may have been even less friendly toward the gambler
I get it. Casinos are there to make money, and the rules always favor the house. However, my principal game is blackjack. There are tweaks some land-based casinos make to their rules to make it a much nearer even-money experience for the gambler. I will focus on two specific areas– rules at the tables, and rules on blackjack machines. I suspect that similar issues crop up in other games, as well.
NCL uses an auto-shuffler on almost all the blackjack tables in the Norwegian Sky casino. Even at $25 dollars a hand, the only choice was an auto-shuffler. There was a $50 and a $100 table, and each of those offered a standard show. However, I don’t think I ever saw anyone at either table. It would have been more profitable, methinks, to open those up as lower limit tables. Even better, let gamblers play from a shoe for $25 or perhaps less. Other than that, though, the rules at tables weren’t too bad. You could split and double after splits. The dealer hit on soft 17 and you only got one card when splitting aces, but those are both pretty standard rules.
During the sea day, I very briefly tried my hand at video blackjack. A few hands in, however, I noticed that something was wrong. I could not double, and I could not split. My only options were to hit or stand. The only edge a gambler has is being able to take advantage of favorable situations, and the electronic machines did not allow this at all. On balance, land-based casinos offer much better rules.
Other notes on the Norwegian Sky casino
- You can charge chips to your room if you like for a 3% fee. Be careful to avoid a large bill at the end of your cruise.
- They did not have any Let It Ride tables.
- You could track play with your room card, and did not need a specific casino card.
- They offered tea and cakes in the afternoon on the sea day.