Sunday, July 08, 2018

Review of Royal Caribbean's Scratch Off Games

I fancy myself something of an expert on lottery scratch off games as I've played a number of them in Maryland and a few in Virginia. I knew Royal Caribbean offered scratch off lottery tickets in their ship's casinos. While on my April 2018 cruise on Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas, I visited the ship's casino and proceeded to play each of their scratch off games.

I wrote a review previously on Royal Caribbean's scratch off games and, this review is a bit of an update. The biggest change I found with Royal Caribbean in this way was they added $10 and $20 games. The $10 game offers a top prize of $50,000 and, the $20 game offers a top prize of $100,000. In comparison to Maryland Lottery's scratch offs, these prizes are low. Maryland Lottery offers a top prize of $100,000 for $10 games and, $1,000,000 (paid over 20 years) for $20 games.

Another downside I found to the Royal Caribbean games is the odds get worse! as they get more expensive. According to one of the tickets I bought, the overall odds of winning something in their $20 game called Glittering Gold are 1 in 5.09. In Maryland, the normal odds for a $20 game are 1 in 3 or slightly less. This confounded me a bit.

Overall odds for the $5 and $10 games are the same at 1 in 4.48 which in my opinion is also poor. These odds are more in line with Maryland Lottery's $1 games which offer the worst overall odds of all their games.

Their $10 game called 20X THE CASH offered the most instant winner chances. This game is very similar to Maryland Lottery's 100X game except the instant win symbols go from 2X to 20X whereas in the Maryland game, they go up to 100X. The instant win symbols are 2X, 5X, 10X and 20X where you win the prize instantly times the instant win symbol example: if you hit a 5X symbol, you win 5 times the prize shown below the symbol so, if it was a $20 prize, you would win $100 in this case.

The $20 game does have a one instant win chance on this game. At the top of the ticket is a round covered chance which you scratch off and if you scratch off a coin with a dollar symbol on it, you instantly win $100. Otherwise, this game is like ALL the other games in that you try to match 1 or more of the 5 numbers at the top of the ticket to win some prize.

Another gripe I have with Royal Caribbean is they don't show the various prize amounts in their games except for the top prize. Presumably, you have a chance of winning at least what the ticket cost you but, it's anyone's guess what prize amounts are in between that and the top prize.

One last note: if you win a prize of $100 or higher on ANY of the games, you will have to provide the following information on the ticket: sign your name, print your name, the prize amount, your cabin number and the date. Also, the cashier will have to sign the ticket.

Overall, I wasn't impressed with Royal Caribbean's scratch off games. Like all scratch off games in general, they're easy to play and probably the easiest games in the ship's casino. Still, the poor overall odds and smaller prizes are a real downer for me. I can't recommend them. I think players in the United States of America at least could find better games in their home states. Best of luck to any gamblers among my readers. Cheers!

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Feedback On Cruising Out of Baltimore, Maryland

As I mentioned previously on my blog, I was going to do a cruise on Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas out of Baltimore, Maryland. I did the cruise and thought I'd offer a little feedback/information on it.

The cruise started April 5, 2018 and finished April 14, 2018. It lasted 9 nights and visited the following ports:

Charleston, South Carolina,
Orlando (Port Canaveral), Florida
Miami, Florida
Nassau, Bahamas (2 days)

The cruise was supposed to make port at King Bahama, Bahamas but, Royal Caribbean changed the itinerary to 2 days in Nassau citing necessary small repairs on the ship (don't know if this was true or not).

As far as in-processing at the Cruise Ship Terminal, people directing the traffic were mixed. Some were helpful and some definitely weren't. One guy told my driver and me to get off the crosswalk BUT didn't tell us where to drop my bags. Security was tough though not as tough as at any airport. The person who checked me in did a fine job and was very courteous. Once you've checked in, there is a waiting area if they haven't started boarding yet. Pinnacle Crown & Anchor members as well as those staying in suites on the ship have a separate waiting area.

The cruise itself went fine and, I'll be doing the same cruise again on Grandeur of the Seas in January 2019.

Upon the ship's return to Baltimore, disembarking went very smoothly and, I believe they stayed on schedule with getting the various groups off. Customs was a breeze to my surprise and, I didn't have to fill out a customs form stating what I'd bought in the Bahamas (the only foreign country the ship visited). I think I was through Customs in 5 minutes to my delight. When I exited Customs, the baggage handlers were on their mark and all my bags were in their assigned area waiting for me.

Some plusses I want to mention about cruising out of Baltimore providing you don't fly into Baltimore to catch the cruise like me. First, no baggage fees. Second, you don't have to worry about the weight of your bags. Third, no long travel time to catch the cruise (providing you live some where in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area). It took me only 30 minutes to travel from Jessup, Maryland to the terminal.

One potential negative is if you have to drive your own car to the terminal and park it there. I believe they charge $15 a day to park it there while you're off on the cruise. Another potential negative is if you have to use a taxi. Due to a friend dropping the ball on me at the last minute, I had to use a taxi (I didn't have the Uber or Lyft apps). I asked the taxi driver for an estimate and, he was very vague on it. The fare ended up being a steep $67! I wasn't pleased about this and will have either Uber or Lyft's app next time. One last negative is you will have at least 1 day at sea to get any where with as many as 3 (Royal Caribbean has that many coming back from their Caribbean cruise). I know some folks enjoy days at sea but, I don't.

Overall, I was very pleased with how things went at the Baltimore Cruise Ship Terminal. I'm looking forward to my January 2019 cruise on Grandeur of the Seas and feel my next visit there will go even smoother. I'd definitely recommend cruising out of Baltimore for those who live in the area.

Review of Maryland Lottery's Willy Wonka Golden Ticket Scratch Off Game

One of the newest games to come out of the Maryland Lottery is their Willy Wonka Golden Ticket scratch off game. The game costs $10 and offers a top prize of $100,000 (common among $10 games). The game was launched on April 23, 2018 and has all 8 $100,000 prizes as well as all 12 $10,000 prizes at the time of this post. Four lucky winners have won the third tier prize of $1,000 though 48 of those remain at the time of this post.

The overall odds of this game are 1 in 3.44. The game has 3 instant win symbols: a top hat which causes the winner to instantly win 5 times the prize shown, a lollipop which causes the winner to instantly win 10 times the prize shown and a ticket which causes the winner to win ALL 25 prizes shown on the ticket (figuring on $10 per prize, that means if you hit this symbol, you've won at least $250!). Barring these instant win symbols, you have to match 1 or more of 5 numbers to win a minimum prize of $10.

One very unique feature of this game is its second chance drawing. There will be 6 drawings on:

May 28, 2018
July 2, 2018
August 6, 2018
September 10, 2018
October 15, 2018
November 19, 2018

The winner of each drawing will be flown to Las Vegas, Nevada with a guest for a Billion Dollar Challenge contest where they will compete against their other winners as well as other winners from other states that participate in this contest. The winner will have a chance to win from $1,000 to $1 Billion dollars.

Besides getting flown out to Las Vegas for the contest, the winner and their guest gets free airport transport, free hotel accommodations for 3 nights and $1,000 spending money.

Overall, I think this is one of the more interesting scratch off games that Maryland Lottery has come up with. I think the second chance drawing will attract a lot of interest too as who wouldn't like to win a BILLION dollars. Personally, I've played this game twice using my own money and had a little bit of luck with it. I do like the Willy Wonka theme. The tickets feature a Willy Wonka character on the ticket that to me looks like Gene Wilder who played the character in the first Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory movie. I very much liked that movie and feel Wilder was excellent in it. This is one game I'd recommend to would be players though do remember to play responsibly please.

Sources: 1 of the scratch off tickets I bought with my own money and the Maryland Lottery website. I haven't received any compensation for writing this review and all opinions expressed in this review are my own and not reflective of the Maryland Lottery nor do I have ANY association with them.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Review of Arizona's Sweet Tea

While at the Jessup, Maryland Dollar Tree about a month ago, I wanted a cheap caffeine fix. I decided to try their Arizona Sweet Tea. It costs only a $1, comes in a 42 ounce plastic bottle and, they had it in the refrigerated section so, it was already cold.

In my opinion, the tea turned out to be pretty lacklustre i.e. it wasn't terribly good. For starters, it didn't seem very sweet. This may be because they used high fructose corn syrup instead of real sugar to sweeten it. Sweet tea is supposed to be so sweet that you would get a huge sugar high from drinking it. I didn't get that from this product.

One slight plus to the product is they add ascorbic acid so you get 100% of the vitamin C you need in an 8 ounce glass of the tea.

Arizona claims the tea is real brewed. Maybe but, the tea itself isn't noteworthy either. Some teas have particularly nice flavors depending on what you like example: Russian Caravan tea has a nice smoky taste to it. This tea didn't have any noteworthy flavor to it. I would guess they used plain black tea.

Overall, the best thing I can say about this tea is it's cheap. As I mentioned previously, a 42 ounce bottle cost just a $1 at Dollar Tree. I don't know how caffeine it has in it so, I can't say how much of a charge you'll get from drinking some of this tea. As far as thumb scores go, I give this tea 2 thumbs down. I'd recommend you drink some other kind of tea. Happy drinking all!

Monday, March 05, 2018

Review of Maryland Lottery's Triple 333's Game

On February 26, 2018, the Maryland Lottery came out with a new $2 scratch off game called Triple 333's. The game features 8 top prizes of $10,000. Other prize amounts start from $2 and go up to $5,000. At the time of this post, no one has claimed any of the top $10,000 prizes.

The game gives you 10 chances to win. In order to win, you must reveal either a single "3" which means you have instantly whatever the prize amount is to the right of the number OR get three 3's i.e. "333". If you get a triple 3, you win triple the prize amount shown.

Overall odds of winning in the game are 1 in 4.04 which is normal for the cheaper games.

The game is incredibly easy to play as all you have to do is scratch straight down on the left side that has the numbers and see if you have either one 3 or three 3's.

Losing tickets do qualify for lottery reward points.

Overall, this is a very easy and quick game to play. For those who can't afford the higher priced games, this is a more affordable way to play for some reasonably big money. I think it's an ok game.

One final note: if you need to find the ticket numbers in order to enter ticket for lottery reward points, you'll find them along the right side of the ticket just past the prize amounts. I was wondering where these numbers were and had to search for them.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Review of Jack Links A.M. Breakfast Sausage

You never know what you'll find at Ollie's Bargain Outlet. Recently, I discovered their Jessup, Maryland store received a shipment of Jack Links A.M. Breakfast Sausage. As I like their beef jerky, I decided to try their breakfast sausage.

The sausage comes in 4.4 ounce resealable bags, is dried, fully cooked and ready to eat. Ollie's was selling it for $1.99 and claims it normally sells for $3.29. I counted the number of sausages in 1 bag and found a total of 10 which breaks out to nearly 20 cents a sausage. If I had to pay the full price, that would break out to around 32 cents a sausage which isn't cheap though I don't know what is a good price for sausage.

Jack Links claims the sausage is hot and spicy. I didn't find it hot though I did find it had some spice in it. They use chipotle pepper, red pepper and black pepper to season it. I feel it wasn't overly spicy.

You can heat the sausage up in a microwave for 10 seconds though do take it out of the bag first as they recommend.

I feel one plus of this sausage is you don't have to refrigerate it until you open the bag unlike regular sausage. This sausage might be handy on a camping trip.

Overall, I feel this is decent sausage that could be handy in certain circumstances like camping or hiking. Also, I thought I got a good deal on it at Ollie's. Do remember if you find it at an Ollie's where you live that you should buy it right then because you may not find it there when you come back. Ollie's doesn't joke when they say when it's gone, it's gone. It really is in their case. Bon Appetit all!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

An Update on My Blogging

To any readers I have, no I haven't stopped blogging. I didn't realize I haven't posted anything since October 2017. I will post some new stuff soon. I just finished a mini-adventure where I stayed at 2 different Holiday Inn Expresses 2 different days (Springfield, Virginia and Prince Frederick, Maryland) made more memorable by the fact that due to some freakish Maryland weather I caught some kind of virus I'm now trying to kick.

Another issue I had was trying to get back into my blogger account. It took me over a very frustrating hour before I finally was able to figure out how to call it back up. To Google's credit, their blogger troubleshooting list did help me eventually solve the problem.

So, stay tuned for some new stuff. I have more interesting adventures coming this year with 3 cruises booked with Royal Caribbean. And thank you for reading my blog. Cheers.

Update February 27, 2018: I managed to kick the virus I caught and have started taking Vitamin Shoppe's Sambucus Black Elderberry extract to stay healthy. I'm not crazy about the taste of the stuff as it tastes like licorice but, if it keeps me healthy, I'll take a dose every day.

On new blog topics, I'll be blogging about some more products I've tried like Pringle's Extra Hot Chili & Lime chips and the new Maryland Lottery $30 game they came out with this week. It looks like it'll be an improvement over the first $30 game they came out with so stay tuned.

Update March 29, 2018: I know I haven't posted a review on Maryland's new Megabucks $30 scratch off game. It is an improvement over their first $30 game called $2,000,000 Fortune. It has 3 different possible instant win chances in the main part of the ticket and four bonus instant win chances at the top of the ticket - $30, $50, $200 and $500. I still plan to write a review on this game.

Another thing to watch for are some posts on my upcoming cruise with Royal Caribbean. I'll be cruising out of Baltimore, Maryland on Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas. It'll be my 3rd cruise on this ship BUT, the first time I'll in-process through the Baltimore Cruise Ship Terminal. I've read the people are rude there. I'm curious to see if it's true. We'll see. I'll try to post some pictures too. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Jot Ballpoint Pen Review

Among the good size selection of pens you'll find at Dollar Tree stores, the cheapest are the Jot Ballpoint Pens. The pens come in packs of 10 (at a $1 a pack, this breaks out to 10 cents a pen) with a choice of 2 different type of pen bodies (white and clear) and 3 choices of ink color (Black, Blue and, I think Red). All pens as far as I know have a .7 millimeter nib.

I bought 2 packs of the pens myself to test them and, I found they write well especially for such cheap pens. One down side to them is their stick pens meaning they don't retract and, you have to use a pen cap each pen comes with to keep the ink on the pen from drying out. I suspect the pens use a standard oil based ink which doesn't dry out for a long time though they will eventually.

Of the 2 pen bodies, I'd recommend the clear body pens as you can see how much ink the cartridge has left. With the white bodies, you'd have to pull the ink cartridge out of the pen to see how much there is.

Overall, these are decent cheap pens that write well enough. At 10 cents each, I don't think it's worth going through all the hassle of replacing the ink cartridge when you've used it up. Also, I'm not wiped out by the extremely basic ink color selection. However, for most business writing, I think you're supposed to use black or blue ink any way so, this shouldn't matter to most folks. As with many things at Dollar Tree stores, the selection of these pens may vary from store to store. If you want to get a specific pack of them, you might want to see about ordering them on their website.

That's all for this post. Happy writing all!