I F things go as planned, Cambodia's new floating casino moored in front of the
Cambodiana Hotel will open with a bang - literally. With a soft opening slated
for May 1, dozens of workers are scrambling over the entire 12,000 ton vessel
painting walls, laying hundreds of square meters of plush red carpet, hanging
glitzy curtains and installing a half dozen metal detectors to keep out cameras
Last but not least, they're putting the final touches on a
cavernous Pirate Theme Park in the hold of the ship where fun seekers who want
to take a break from the roulette wheel can experience the excitement of
yesteryear when buccaneers roamed the seven seas in search of buried treasure.
"Its an Indiana Jones kind of thing for kids just to have fun," said
Liao Khoon Ngain, who went on to describe how visitors will sit on a mechanized
platform and be entertained by a synchronized light and sound show depicting
cannon fire and a variety of other Disneyesque representations of the likes of
Blackbeard and Long John Silver.
The ship's innards have been kitted out
to resemble a rocky coast, with furled sails hanging along the roof of what
would have been the engine room. Above the fake rocks are stage lot-like fronts
of 17th century pubs and long forgotten ports of call. The platform is on metal
tracks and will move 30 meters up and back the ship's hull giving passengers a
ride into fantasyland.
Liao, chairman of Naga Resorts, the management
company hired by Malaysia-based Ariston Ltd. to run the "floating entertainment
complex", says his company hopes to develop "a landmark in Phnom
He says that the ship can accomodate up to 1,000 customers at any
one time. Most of these would fill the five floors of casinos at the back of the
vessel where dozens of blackjack, baccarrat and roulette tables are set up and
ready for business.
According to Naga Resort's CEO, Lim Kim Hock, "Every
floor has a different ambience."
To give a Cambodian flavor to the whole
operation, the firm hired local artists to paint the ceilings of the casino's
VIP levels 4 and 5 with scenes from the Ramayana. "This is a government project,
so we want to make sure it looks Cambodian," says Naga's Vice President S.