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When people sat down at Sarah Seldon’s blackjack game, they always wanted to talk about The Book. “Should I double down? Should I hit? Dealer, I know you’re a gambler; you could let me win if you wanted to. What does the book say?” She had never read this book, this mythical Bible for gamblers. The truth is there are 2256 books, each teaching its own foolproof winning system. But Sarah had been in the casino business long enough to think with a gambler’s mind. Gamblers knew they could follow all the rules of basic strategy, utilize money management and still lose if they weren’t dealt the right cards. The allure and curse of gambling was that there were no sure things. In the end it all came down to luck; gamblers prayed that Lady Luck would show up and that she would stick around for awhile.

Friday, April 6, 2012


People always ask me why I love cruising so much. What makes it so special? They ask me this because I once worked on a cruise ship. I love cruise ships because I love the ocean. But what make a cruise ship so special? Well my favorite thing about a cruise ship is the sail away. I know that you also sail into a port but that usually happens when you are fast asleep in your cabin encased in your soft, high thread count luxury sheets. But sail away is a time when most of the passengers gather on the deck to watch the ship leave a port, drink frou-frou drinks and wave at those unfortunates on the dock that won't be sailing with us. This week I will tell you about my favorite place to sail away from.

My number one place to leave is Venice, and not because I want to get away but because I love Venice so much. In fact much of the first chapter of my novel Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships is set in Venice. One of most memorable experiences was planning a pizza party on the crew deck. Earlier in the day I had bought cheap bottles of red wine in town but I didn't have to bring the pizzas because onboard an Italian head chef made sure that the pizza was thin and crispy with just a smattering of sauce and cheese that is hard to duplicate in American but can be found in any town in Italy.

The most beautiful sail away in the world - Venice, Italy

The sail away from Venice was set in the late afternoon for the greatest dramatic appeal. The whole city takes on a golden glow. It is a balmy summer day, with the movement of the ship creating a soft breeze on deck. The ship meanders past medieval houses and cathedrals painted in muted earth tone colors. The harbor is crowded with water taxis, gondolas, and boats moving produce and goods through the canals. Commerce moving as it has for thousands of years. While the ship meanders past all of this splendor all the casino staff are lounging on the crew deck, sipping local red wine and chewing on crispy hot, fresh pizza that has just been delivered from the kitchen.

And then we sail past St. Marks Square, if there is a more beautiful place on earth show it to me. Thousands of tourists are gawking at the Doge's Palace and the Basilica waiting for the The Moor to strike his bell. The music from the violinist playing in the square is barely discernable from the ship. The day is perfect, the chance for days like that are why I lived on ships for many years.

I know that some of you have been to Venice, some left by plane where long lines and customs awaited you. Some of you went by train and what a great way to see the countryside. But just for me I will always cherish those sail aways from Venice.

About the author:
Cara Bertoia is the author of Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships. Her novel is really a travelogue, a narrative, a romance, a self-help manual for gambling and cruising, and a real-life story all rolled into one funny, obsessive, and entertaining story of two people whose separate life journeys meet at a crossroads. Kindle Fire Dept. says, "This novel is a gem that is nothing short of a vacation in a book!"

Please check out her most popular posts at CaraBetoia.blogspot.com  to find more blogs about cruising, casinos and anything that catches her fancy.

Below are the links to Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships