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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.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Sometimes the best vacation is one where you don't go anywhere at all. For the last three years Ray and I have been spending a week in Palm Springs just like the other tourists going to the Palm Springs International Film Festival. Sonny Bono started the film festival 23 years ago and it keeps getting better every year.

The weather was warm and sunny, the relatives flew in from Florida to join us, and we got to do my two favorite things, go to the movies and eat out. As if that wasn't enough we got to see George Clooney. But this year he was just one of the stars who turned up. Brad and Angelina, Charilize Theron, Adrian Brody, Glen Close and Olivia Wilde to name a few all walked the red carpet. We even gawked as the limos pulled up depositing the stars at the convention center.

The picture my cousin Robert took of George Clooney

This is a great film festival because it features the best foreign films from across the globe and if you can't visit a country the best way to travel there is by watching a movie or reading a book. This blog is about great movies based on great novels.

All I had to do was go into the theatre, wait for the lights to dim and I was sitting in a cafe on a square in 1930' Belgrade. Montevideo, the Taste of a Dream is based on a novel by Vladimir Stankovic. This is a beautiful film, filmed with beautiful actors, which tells the story of a Belgrade soccer team trying to reach Montevideo to participate in the first World Soccer Cup. Some movies are so evocative of a time and a place. Slick and sexy the scene in a jazz club is one of the best I have ever seen.

We wrote our novel Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships after working aboard a luxury cruise ship. I loved the cruise to Scandinavia and Russia, so when I saw how many movies from that area of the world were showing, I bought tickets to many of them.

A great movie out of Norway is Headhunters. This movie is a thriller in every sense of the word. It is slick and sleek just what you would expect from a Scandinavian movie and the best thing is that the thrills and chills are created without the special effects of most Hollywood blockbusters. Even if you can't see the movie you can read the book. The movie is based on Jo Neb's novel, Headhunters.

The next movie on my list is Generation P out of Russia. There is a chapter in our novel devoted to Moscow; Ray worked there after the fall of communism, when it was just becoming the wild and wicked city featured in the film. This movie is a mixed bag. The first hour is one of the best examples of Russia's transition to capitalism through the eyes of a writer who gets a job in advertising. The second hour however is a bit of a mess. But maybe you just have to be Russian to get all the inside jokes and references, because this movie was a game changer in Russia. This book is based on the novel Generation P written by Victor Pelevin.

I much preferred My Father Baryshnikov which was centered on the school where the Bolshoi dancers are trained. It is a charming tale of a young man who doesn't know who his father is and so he pretends he is Baryshnikov. It was written about a time when all Russians lived in the same type of apartments, ate the same food and wore the same clothes. This movie is an uplifting tale that will make you see 1980's Russia in a new light. A Russian friend of mine agreed that the movie got it just right. Although it was based on the writers life there is no book.

A movie, like a book has the power to change your heart. I defy anyone to go see A Separation, and not come out of the theater with a new understanding of Iranian society. This is just a simple tale of two people going through a divorce, both with faults and problems, but the insights it gives us into modern day Iranian society are priceless.

I love my city and I hope all of you will one day have a chance to travel here during the festival. Where else in one week can you get the chance to see over 200 films from over 70 countries, and only have to pack your bags once?

Below is the links to our novel.
Click the link to find at Amazon.com
Click the link to find at Amazon United Kingdom
Click the link to find at Amazon Germany  

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Ray attending a lifeboat drill

Last Sunday night the Costa Concordia sank off the coast of the island of Giglio, enroute to Civitavecchia, a port I had visited many times working for Princess Cruises. I would like to say that in all my years at sea I never encountered a captain like Francesco Schettino. I considered all the captains kings of their ship, they were all very professional, attentive and if I have to admit it, a little bit scary.

While normally I am not one to comment on ship safety the lack of knowledge of some of the announcers made me feel I had to write this post. A newscaster was interviewing some passengers after they had made it back to safety in the US. They told him that when they realized that the ship was in trouble they were dressed in formal wear, an evening gown and high heels. Reasoning that this was not the proper attire for lifeboat travel, they returned to their cabins and changed their clothes.

The commentator congratulated them, "What clear thinking,"

NO, NO, NO, it was not clear thinking returning to their cabin. It was a horrible idea. It is never a good idea to return to your cabin when a ship is possibly sinking. There are just too many things that can go wrong, What if the ship is on fire? What if the electricity goes off? What if the ship tilts and you can't open the door to your cabin? When you hear any kind of alarm you should proceed to your muster station and if you don't know where it is then proceed to the highest open deck.

Even though international law states that a lifeboat drill has to be held at least 24 hours after a boat leaves port, every ship I ever worked on held an emergency drill as soon as the ship sailed. As a crew member I also attended many drills over the course of my career at sea. If you read my book Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships, I talk about the 'how to board a lifeboat drills', 'how to locate a bomb drills', 'how to crawl out of your cabin in case of a fire drills', and even a drill about the proper way to jump off the side of a ship without breaking your neck!

The following story perfectly illustrates my point.
Ray had been working on a Greek ship for three months and was very familiar with his surroundings. One day while the ship was docked in Patras he went out to lunch with a friend. When they returned to the ship they discovered the engine room was on fire and the ship had been evacuated. After a few hours the fire had been put out but the ship was declared out of service for repairs. They allowed the crew to board so that they could collect their belongings.

There was no power or lights working on the ship. When Ray left the ships entrance and headed to his cabin, he became disoriented walking down the pitch black corridor. He found his cabin by counting the doors. Once inside he relied on the light from the porthole as he gathered his belongings, but leaving the his cabin he found it very difficult to find his way back to the gangway. His walk was further complicated by the debris that had been dropped in the hallway, by the other crew in their scramble to get off the ship.

Our main point is that even in this situation when the ship was stable and upright and there was no immediate danger or rush and no crowd of panicking passengers, finding his way around the bowels of the ship was no easy task - and he was a crew member. So imagine the problems a passenger would have in the middle of an emergency situation.

Although ships are very safe and safety is taken very seriously on a cruise ship accidents can still happen.
We hope this helps you if you ever find yourself on a sinking ship.

As an update to this article we are sorry to report that Sandor Feher the violinist on the Costa ship, helped children into their lifejackets and then left to return to his cabin to retrieve his violin and was never seen again.

Below is the links to our novel.
Click the link to find at Amazon.com
Click the link to find at Amazon United Kingdom
Click the link to find at Amazon Germany 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


If you are reading this blog post right now it is probably a good guess that your are interested in Casinos and Cruise Ships. So to keep our readers up to date and current with what is happening in both industries we have created a new online paper Casinos and Cruise Ships, and the best part is that the subscription is absolutely FREE. So keep yourself informed about the latest developments in the casino and cruise ship industry across the globe. You don't have to subscribe to check it out.


Sunday, December 25, 2011


Today, I am thrilled to host Cara Bertoia, co-author of an amazing travel novel which is as much about romance as it is about travel (the novel is based on their real-life love story). So read on to find out more about the book “Cruise Quarters” and how she met the man of her dreams. You would not want to miss infectious laugh on her witty answers as a bonus! :)
I am just thrilled with the new interview at The Review Girl. Komal Mansoor thought up some wonderful questions that were a lot of fun to answer if you have a chance click this link to read the interview.
The Review Girl Interview of Cara Bertoia

Friday, December 9, 2011


The last time I was in Vegas was to visit the gaming show. The gaming show is the trade show for casinos, imagine visiting a vast hall filled with the newest, greatest slot machines and table games. Now imagine that you can play anything you want - for free! Because maybe if you play that game and like it you will put it in your casino.Well I don't own a casino but I wrote about them in my novel Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships.
Since I'm a dealer, a table games kind of girl, it was easy for me to walk past those machines. I prefer blackjack to Wheel of Fortune. But this year was all about poker. Poker is everywhere. You can play it at your house, you can watch it on television or you can trust your money to some operator out of the Cayman Islands and play online from the comfort of your desk. Vegas has huge poker rooms filled with dreamers, who have all heard about the World Series of Poker and fantasize about winning the million dollar pot.
All this could be yours!

I'm not talking about that kind of poker. I started out dealing in Tahoe where friends of mine were married to people that played poker in the casino every night because that was their job. Poker rooms are also filled with crafty retirees who play every day and as the saying goes if you practice for 10,000 hours you will get good. Those people scare me and they should scare you. I lost my hard earned tips to those guys too many times. But there is a way to play poker and not be intimidated.

The hottest thing at the gaming show was the carnival games. The ones I am going to focus on are variations of poker that you play at a table that looks a lot like a blackjack table. It isn't you against the other players at the table, no ringers here. It is everyone against the house. The most popular of these games are three card, four card and ultimate Texas hold-em.

Three card poker is just what it sounds like, your three cards against the dealers. It is exactly like regular poker only in three card a straight is higher that a flush. I don't know why that is, but someone smarter than me has figured out the odds. All these games are carefully vetted by the Nevada Gaming Commission before they ever hit the casino floor. But if you want to know the odds on any casino game just google The Wizards of Odds.

Four card has a twist, you get five cards but you only use four. But this is straight poker with a bonus, if you bet it you get paid extra on any hand trips or better. Trips is a quick way to say three of a kind. And in this game trips are a better hand than either a straight or a flush.

Probably the most popular is Ultimate Texas Hold-Em. I don't have time to explain Texas Hold-Em but if you know how to play you know that it all turns on the river. But at a table game all the players can win, there is no pot to split. You also don't have to wait for a game, you only need one player and a dealer and the game is on.

But straight poker isn't enough there are more bells and whistles. With a dollar you can enter a progressive that pays out thousands for a royal flush. This is called a side bet. A few weeks ago someone won $69,000 at my casino, not bad for a buck. And sometimes they combine games; at one table you can play three card and five card poker at the same time. All of these games go by different names and have different rules that vary from casino to casino so you need to visit some websites and study the odds. I know it all sounds complicated, but with the dealer ready to help you, in a few minutes you can be playing poker in the casino and have a lot of fun!

Click the link to find at Amazon.com
Click the link to find at Amazon United Kingdom
Click the link to find at Amazon Germany

Saturday, November 5, 2011


With the demise of bookstores all around us, both national chains and local independents, the question now is how do you find a good book? My favorite hobby used to be browsing through the bookstore stopping to read the first few pages of any book that caught my eye. I also am a subscriber to the Los Angeles Times and so every Sunday I would look forward to reading their book review section, but over time I found that most of the books reviewed there didn't really interest me. I enjoyed books that made me laugh where the words flowed easily off the page and where I picked up some insight into human nature.

So two years ago when my husband surprised me with a Kindle for my birthday I wondered how I would find a good book. But in the last two years E-books have exploded and I have found that there are so many great sites that inform the reader about new books that I don't have room to even begin to describe them all here but I will spotlight some great ones.

The most notable of all would have to be Daily Cheap Reads. Here new books priced up to $9.99 are introduced all day and links to the book at Amazon are provided. You can browse their archives to find books in a genre that interests you.
Click the link for Daily Cheap Reads

There is also another great site, No Trees Harmed, and as you can tell by the title the focus is on E-books. Their motto is 'Good Reads for a Paperless World'. There you will also find links to many other blogs reviewing books. Click on some of the links and you will find a maze of websites all designed to find you a good book.

Another excellent blog is 'I am a Reader not a Writer'. I hosted a book giveaway there. If you follow the link you will find my interview and the great contest entries the readers provided.

I have been fortunate to have my novel Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships featured on all of these sites. The links take you to my interviews and from there you can navigate around the sites, and then on to Amazon. If you are anything like me you will download free sample chapters from the books that interest you. What a great feature, by being able to download the first chapter I never end up with a dud book.

I also wonder how did you find my blog? I know that just this week I have had readers from Russia, Australia and the United Kingdom as well as the US. So if you are a reader please let me know a little bit more about you. You can comment here but sometimes that can be difficult, so feel free to e-mail me at carabertoia@yahoo.com.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


Cruise Quarters

A Novel about Casinos and Cruise Ships

Cara Bertoia with Raymond Bertoia

ARAY / Productions
Email: Ray92262@yahoo.com
Copyright 2011 by Cara and Raymond Bertoia

Other work by these authors

Camino De Santiago – The Walker’s Guide
A 2 Hour DVD that follows the couple as
they walk across Spain.

For more information visit


Regal Queen Crew Pass Name
Sarah Seldon


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.
On that particular day, Sarah perched on a chair to get a better view through her salt-stained porthole onto the dock, filled with people busying themselves with the activities necessary to supply a huge cruise ship. Port activities in Hong Kong demonstrated a model of modern efficiency. Even though the ship had been docked for under an hour, already the crew had begun to perform the necessary safety checks. At the same time operators steered forklifts, moving wooden pallets filled with provisions into the hold. Like a patient hooked up to life support, long, fat hoses attached to the side of the ship fed water and gas into tanks, providing nutrients for the upcoming voyage.
Through all this mayhem, she hoped to catch a last glance of Adam. In a few hours he would be leaving on a plane, flying home to Wales. Goodbyes on a cruise ship were always frantic, with people leaving for all parts of the world. In her five years of working as a croupier for Regal Cruises she must have said goodbye to hundreds of people, always fearing that she would never see those people again. With twelve ships in the fleet, it was a very good possibility. But before today she hadn’t been in love with any of them, and that changed everything.
The vessel was beautiful, a holdover from the grand old days of sailing. The floors covered with the finest carpets; the walls paneled in mahogany, millions of dollars of artwork hanging from them, some of it a little too abstract for her taste. It all added up to the illusion of wealth. For one week, anyone could buy that illusion.
It was also her illusion, as long as she stayed in the passengers' area. Upstairs she convinced herself that she lived in an oceanfront condo, but down here in crew quarters, her ten by twelve foot cabin located in the bowels of the ship, she could conjure up no grandeur. Industrial carpet covered the floor. Metal bunk beds were attached to one wall, a sink to the other. Everything painted grey, battleship grey. Every inch of space covered with essential appliances - scattered everywhere - hair dryers, a microwave, television-video combination, and laptop. 
She glanced at pictures of Adam tacked all over the wall. Adam, of the piercing blue eyes, Adam, whose prematurely gray hair had the sheen of the finest silver. Handsome Adam, she needed his face to be the first thing visitors saw when they walked in the room. She was besotted.
Adam’s collection of Hard Rock glasses lined the desk. He had been nutty about The Hard Rock CafĂ©. Sarah found it hard to believe, with all the great spots in the world, that he only wanted to go to the Hard Rock. Forget Raffle’s bar in Singapore; they ate at the Hard Rock. In fact, collecting pins from the Hard Rock was a hobby shared by many of the crew. It seemed bizarre to her, collecting tacky souvenirs, but finally she got it. When they got home, the small metallic pins shaped like guitars proudly displayed on their worn denim jackets proved that they had really been to faraway places.
Did she hear a knock on the door? She turned around. Adam walked in the room wearing his Hard Rock London leather jacket. She had been so focused on searching for him on the dock that his physical presence in the cabin startled her. Standing up, she pressed firmly against him, trying to memorize the way his body, sculpted by his work as a plumber, felt. No exercise regimen worked better than manual labor.
"Oh Adam, you haven’t left yet!"
"Before I go, I wanted you to have this." His melodic voice with a Welsh accent exuded sex.
She gazed into his piercing blue eyes as he handed her a white industrial jumpsuit. "You can wear it when you do the drop." He smiled. Every week the casino staff crawled on their knees and unlocked the cabinets under the slot machines to count the coins the passengers had lost.
Holding the jumpsuit to her nose, she breathed it in. "I could never. I’ll sleep in it. It smells like you." When you’re in love, even dirty laundry is sexy.
A loudspeaker attached to the wall of the cabin announced, "Last call for all crew going ashore."
"Gotta run." Adam kissed her.
"Just remember - be home on my birthday. I’m going to call you from New Zealand. It would just ruin my day if I didn’t get to talk to you," she pleaded. We each have our own personal vision of Hell. Sarah’s would be replaying her horrible birthdays.
"Oh I’ll be there. Just remember, Sarah, we don’t just love each other." He dropped his voice even lower, which always sent a chill through her. "WE LOVE EACH OTHER."
Sounded good, didn't it: a man willing -- not afraid -- to say the “love” word? Six months of solid devotion, with never so much as a telltale glance in another woman's direction. He kissed her one last time, and left for the airport.
A few hours later, she met the casino staff for lunch at one of the city’s massive dim sum halls, the ultimate dining experience, meals on wheels, a lazy-man’s buffet, the food came to you. She loved all food, but Chinese was her favorite. All across the room, petite women wearing aprons pushed steaming carts filled with tasty delights. They stopped by each table, trying to entice the customers to try their dishes. But when her favorite--fluffy steamed dumplings made with delicate bits of shrimp nestled between chewy homemade noodles--passed by, she felt so distraught she could barely raise her index finger to point to them.
Adam should be here instead of on his way to Wales. Soon, she would be sailing to New Zealand; they would be lovers moving to opposite ends of the earth. 
The cruise south passed slowly. Sarah filled her days writing long, romantic love letters. At night, she lulled herself to sleep playing back the movie of their romance. Lying in her bunk, under the covers, she pulled Adam’s jumpsuit from under her pillow and breathed him in. She always dreamt about the same amazing day, her first day with Adam, just six short months ago and a half a world away. 
She closed her eyes recalling that day, in St. Mark’s Square. Drifting off, reliving the excitement she had felt over her first season in the Mediterranean. It had taken her a long time to earn a place on the Regal Queen. The second the ship had cleared Customs, she had rushed off the gangway; anxious not to miss anything. There are few things that can compare to waking up in a new port. But as a traveler, Sarah also realized that few places lived up to their hype. Venice not only lived up to the hype, it exceeded all her expectations.  
Leaning against a fountain, alone, surrounded by thousands of other tourists in the Square, Sarah caught snatches of many languages floating by. Beside her stood two Japanese schoolgirls dressed like Goths, their faces painted white and their lips painted black, desperately trying to pretend they weren’t on vacation with their parents. A guide holding a banner identifying her group summoned her strays. Even without understanding the language, Sarah knew the guide was scolding the girls for wandering away from the group.
Instead of feeling like the town was overrun by tourists, Sarah savored the anonymity of being just one more tourist among thousands. She stood still, trying to take in all the activity. She wondered if she blended in with the locals, or was American written all over her face. 
Like her, almost all the women wore modest skirts, covering their knees, the proper dress for entering a church in Italy. The waning afternoon sun bathed the Doge’s Palace in gold. Sarah melted into a group of Spanish tourists and followed them through the Basilica, only understanding bits and pieces of the commentary, but still awed by the massive amount of gilt blanketing the nave.
Upon leaving the church she walked over to the crowd gathering under the clock tower. On the stroke of three, everyone looked up, and watched statues of two men striking the bell. The statues cast in bronze were nicknamed the Moors, because the figures resembled the Moors that ruled Southern Europe for centuries.
From behind her she heard, “Mystical, isn’t it?” He spoke in English, so she guessed the comment was directed at her. Turning her head, she found herself staring into sky-blue eyes. A string quartet began to play in the distance. She recognized Adam; they had joined the ship the same day and listened to the same captain’s welcome speech. It wasn’t really such a coincidence that he was here. The tender that traveled from the ship deposited everyone at the dock for St. Mark’s Square.
“It looks better than the postcards,” she replied.
“I would love to explore Venice, but I wouldn’t know where to start.” He smiled.
He waited patiently, fishing for an invitation, but she didn't mind. “I know where to go. I’m on my way to the Gallery Dell'Accademia. It's the largest museum in Venice. If you'd like, you could join me. The rest of the casino staff flaked out on me.” On a ship, there wasn’t a lot of time at each port. “I came prepared with a map and a plan,” and now she had a man. Could this day get any better?
Welsh Wizards. They had been around for years, arriving at a ship in groups of two to four, repairing things that required their technical expertise. They never hung around that long; they fixed what needed to be fixed and were gone. Their positions were so temporary, they even lived in passenger cabins. She figured she was relatively safe with Adam, probably safer than touring around Venice by herself.
Strolling through narrow streets, bordered by shops and courtyards, they passed purple sheets drying on a clothesline stretched over a canal. The line connected to the third stories of the narrow houses on either side of the water. The sight of laundry swaying in the breeze reminded her that Venice wasn’t just a theme park, people actually lived here. It took a while before she realized that there weren't any cars. A romantic mood prevailed, created by the silence of a city. “Listen,” she said. “No motors.”
She snuck glances at his handsome profile. He walked, hands in his pockets, slouched over like a bad British schoolboy. The heels of his leather boots clicked as they hit the sidewalk. His long hair flicked up at the ends where it touched the collar of his crisp white cotton shirt. 
“Trust me, the real Venice tops the Venetian in Vegas,” she joked. Adam didn’t talk much, but he seemed enthralled as she told him the history of the city. “Venice has been a city-state for a thousand years, the most advanced city in the world at one time.”
In the museum, they studied intricately-detailed paintings illustrating Venice in the fifteenth century. Each picture was the size of an entire wall, larger than life, documenting the everyday scene. Magicians and jugglers wandered the streets in colorful costumes. As they stepped back to admire the paintings from a distance Adam commented, "I think I saw him today."
“You’re right.” Earlier in the day they had stopped to watch buskers dressed in medieval costumes playing in the square.
“The city has changed so little since then; it makes me feel the past,” she added.
“I feel something,” he replied.
She blushed because he wasn’t looking at the painting, he was studying her. She was glad that she had carefully chosen her clothes that day. The pretty dress she wore, with a cinched waist and a gathered skirt, flounced when she walked, making her feel feminine. She felt like twirling when she put it on.
After they finished browsing through the museum, Adam suggested, “Fancy some grub? All of this culture is making my eyes bleary. We could grab some dinner, maybe at a Hard Rock?”
She spotted a woman behind an information desk. “Manga?” Sarah inquired, using one of the few Italian words she knew. “Hard Rock?”
The woman had never heard of the Hard Rock. Sarah asked her if she could suggest another restaurant. With much hand-waving and explaining, the woman scribbled directions to a small square on a scrap of paper.
Their noses informed them they had found the right spot when they turned a corner into a small cobblestoned square and were greeted by the aroma of pizza baking. At the cafe, they ate pasta marinara accompanied by crusty bread and drank red wine from a jug on the table.
She was careful not to ask him any personal questions; it would only spoil the mood if he mentioned a wife or girlfriend. For one night she wanted to pretend that the handsome man sitting across the table belonged to her. “What kind of music do you enjoy?”
“I love the classics,” his face lit up. “In England there’s this fab Manor House all plastered with gargoyles and turrets. All the greats play at The Knebworth Fayre. I saw Queen perform their last gig there.” That explained his love of the Hard Rock, all the memorabilia.
“Imagine: a summer night, a million stars, Clapton,” he paused. “Then it starts pissing down rain, a bloody mess but a cracking good time.”
“Only you Brits could enjoy getting soaked in the rain.” She supposed it was because it rained every day there.
“We’re hardy people. If we let a little rain stop us we would never get anything done. If you fancy it, next year I’ll take you down on my bike. Maybe change your opinion of the rain.” It amused her, how casually he dangled the implied future before her. Just like a man to talk about next year, when he couldn’t commit to next week.
Maybe to show he was serious, he placed her hand in his. Her fingers glided over the calluses on his palms. She liked the way his hand felt, it felt strong.
From Venice, the ship meandered across the Med. Adam and Sarah couldn’t get enough of each other; they climbed the hills of Athens, stopping to eat moussaka in The Plaka. In Santorini, they held their breath as they rode donkeys up the sheer cliffs overlooking the sea. One misstep would send them crashing into the churning water.
Midpoint in the cruise, a visit to the French Riviera. The ship tendered in Cannes. Sarah put on a mini-skirt, piled her hair on top of her head, covered it with a wide-brimmed straw hat and bought a pair of oversized knockoff Dior sunglasses from a street vendor. On the beachfront promenade she tried on haughty poses, pretending to be a movie star in town for the film festival, while Adam snapped photos of her.
On to Rome; at the Vatican they walked under Michelangelo’s magnificent frescoes. Words fail to describe the beauty of Botticelli’s Venus Rising, at the Uffizi in Florence. Women never forget that Venus, the most beautiful woman in the world, had a belly.
Finally, the ship arrived in Barcelona, where restaurants didn’t even open until 9:00 p.m., with streets as crowded at midnight as they were at noon. Seven ports in ten days, Adam and Sarah explored them all. The ship stayed the night while it took on new passengers before turning around and repeating the journey, in reverse order.
On the return trip to Venice, they made love for the first time. When they woke up in the morning Adam whispered, “I love you, Sarah Seldon.”
“No silly, you’re not in love with me, it’s just the Med. We’re two people on a very big yacht, living on siesta time.”  She couldn’t really believe him; after working on ships for a while she had learned that only a fool pinned her hopes on a shipboard romance. But that didn’t mean she couldn’t enjoy the hours spent making love on their afternoon breaks while they traveled to the world’s most beautiful and alive cities. Every day she woke up exhilarated by the incredible sightseeing and every night she fell into bed exhausted from working until the wee hours of the morning.
Their time together could only be temporary; one day soon, Adam would fix whatever it was he was working on and then be gone. Only the memory of a romantic summer in the Med would remain. The precariousness of the situation only added to the drama. Every night, he would report that he had found something else to fix, because he wanted to stay with her. He didn’t have to search very hard; the Regal Queen was a very old ship. Things were always breaking down.
Summer turned into fall, the time for repositioning. The ship left the Med, crossed the Atlantic, and traveled through the Panama Canal in order to reach the South Pacific where it would spend the winter. Adam remained on board, still declaring his love. Around Tahiti, against her better judgment, she began to believe him; maybe he really did love her, the way that she loved him. Because any day could be their last together, they started to plan their future, in the real world, on land. The ship traveled on to Singapore and then the cruise line finalized a deal to sell the Regal Queen. Abruptly, the investment in expensive repairs stopped, and the next morning Adam was booted off. A dramatic ending to the movie she played of their romance, and if in the privacy of her head she took poetic license with the dialogue, enhanced the scenery or added special effects, who could blame her? She was besotted.