Caroline Popov Casino Manager at the Night Hawk Would Like to Introduce Herself to You!

 

Hi, I’m Caroline Popov, casino manager for the Night Hawk. I was more surprised than anyone when I was promoted to this position. The first woman casino manager in the valley. John, the tribal chairman likes to call me the Casino Queen but that doesn’t sit well with me. Whenever I think of a Queen, Mary Queen of Scots comes to mind and we know she was beheaded by her cousin. 

It’s funny living up here in the High Desert between Joshua Tree National Park and the world’s largest Marine base. There isn’t much around here some scrub brush and twisty mountain roads bordered by rocks that look like Jenga pieces. The kind of place where you would film a car commercial. The sky is always crystal blue and it barely rains, but when it does it is quite spectacular. A few days after a rain storm the desert wildflowers bloom painting the hillsides in a rainbow of colors. There is something spiritual about the place.



I worked hard to deserve the job. I was such a scared lonely person when I came to work at the Palm Oasis in Palm Springs. I needed money and John Tovar our Tribal Chairman promised me a future with the tribe. He guaranteed it would be a trial by fire. I know there were some skeptics who didn’t think a woman couldn’t be tough enough to run a casino. Especially that chauvinist Derrick. He’s from Ireland and speaks a nice brogue but I can tell you his words are all Blarney. You have to be tough, but there is room for a little heart in this business. John taught me that.

One thing they never tell you about when you are training is at end of the day your feet feel like lead weights are attached to them, and your hair and clothes smell like cigarettes. Not the glamorous image of casinos you see portrayed on the movie screen. I can’t remember the last time someone walked into the Night Hawk in an evening gown. But there was something about the business that drew me in.

There was a fun atmosphere in the casino, you worked with hundreds of people. Every night was a mini adventure. I was alone, but I never felt lonely. Because dealers are working with math, after an hour the numbers start to get jumbled in your head and you lose concentration. That’s why if you are dealing you get a twenty-minute break every hour. That meant I had plenty of time to read, most dealers always have a book on the go. But most breaks I shot the breeze back in the break room with my team members.

Working with dealers from all over the world opened me up. Rui came from China. June came from Wales, she won the Green Card Lottery. Binh escaped from Vietnam on a leaky boat. Nadia came over as a mail-order bride. So many countries, so many stories. I could spend all day telling you about them. I was completely fascinated by them, Sometimes they made me cry but I admired the way they all fought to be part of the American dream. Although I doubt living forty miles off the highway slinging cards or pouring drinks was part of that dream. But the money was good, the hours were flexible and the job came with health insurance.

Here at the Night Hawk, my team really works well under pressure. You try dealing to someone when you’ve just relieved them of $10,000. Sometimes customers can be less than diplomatic. I’ve been called a bitch on many occasions. But it comes with the territory. On the other side I’ve had a player throw me a $500 chip. You learned fast in this business to take the bad with the good.

Of course, there are a few bad apples around here. When people work in the money store, they begin to think the money is theirs. Look around there are cameras everywhere. Everything you do is being recorded. We trust our employees but we believe in trust but verify. There are so many inventive ways to steal from a casino.

When you come visit the Night Hawk, I’ll show you some of the scams people have tried to pull on us. There is the famous wall of shame filled with photos of all the finest hustlers, petty thieves, hookers, drug pushers and gambling addicts the valley has to offer. Keeping one step ahead of them is a big part of my job.

You can tell I really love this place. I confess, the business is in my bones. I’ve seen people leave but they always come back. Come to work for me, you’ll find out why. But in the meantime, let the casino buy you some dinner.


Cara Bertoia is the author of Casino Queen a new suspense novel published by The Wild Rose Press. It is based on the many true stories she lived through in her many years in the casino industry although the names have been changed to protect the guilty. Read the blurb here.

Caroline Popov, alone, heartbroken, and deeply in debt ends up in glamorous Palm Springs, California where Native casinos have just opened, offering employment to thousands. She lands a job at the Palm Oasis Casino and is mentored by the charismatic tribal chairman, John Tovar.

Embraced by casino culture, Caroline works her way up to casino manager of the Night Hawk, in the High Desert town of Joshua Tree. There, she is responsible for managing multicultural team members, satisfying the demands of challenging guests, growing revenue while rooting out corruption.

In the process of rediscovering her inner strength, she learns, you have to gamble like your life depends on it. With her life on the line can she pull out a win?

                          

                         To check out my interview in The Big Thrill, click the link below.

Casino Queen by Cara Bertoia | THE BIG THRILL

The Big Thrill Interviews Me, Cara Bertoia About My Novel Casino Queen

 



I want to express my appreciation to The Big Thrill for including an author interview from me in their April issue. I consider it a great honor to see my name beside so many accomplished authors. In the article I trace the inspiration for my story and the crazy journey I took to becoming a novelist.

When you write a novel you have a vision, and Susana Kuehne got it! My inspiration for a suspense novel was based on the noir classics. I love stories with quick-witted characters, twisty plots with red herrings thrown in for flavor, and realistic storylines. But Casino Queen was written for this century, it tries to capture the craziness of the first two decades of this century, when casinos opened in Southern California.


                        Check out the article here. Please share if you enjoy it.

Click the link below.

                                Casino Queen by Cara Bertoia | THE BIG THRILL


Tribal Chairman and Fan Favorite John Tovar from Casino Queen Returns to Palm Springs High to Give the Commencement Speech

 


Hi, everyone my name is John Tovar although most of you probably know me as Kevin’s father. It feels funny returning to my alma mater Palm Springs High to give a speech. I was embarrassed when they first asked me. Believe me in high school I would have been voted least likely to succeed if anyone paid any attention to me at all. I didn’t have fancy clothes, a nice car or any car. I went to school to get the free meal at lunch, and to hang out with my friends. My mother worked three jobs to keep a roof over my head, and she would have kicked my ass if I ever dropped out. So, I limped along and finished high school with a very below average G.P.A. Not setting a very good example for you, but this is a redemption story.

Native American Women in Palm Springs 

I’m going to give it to your straight because I believe you are old enough to learn how the world works. When I was growing up, I wasn’t proud of being Native American. I wished I could be one of the kids who had a celebrity for a parent. This city was swarming with them when I was young. They lived in big mansions behind high walls and we were shuffled to Section 14, one square mile in the middle of the city. When the city decided to develop it, some people would go to work and return home to find their homes had been bulldozed. The only time I felt like I belonged was when I went to play with my cousins in the High Desert.

I am a member of the Shotowa Tribe and my ancestors have lived in the Coachella Valley for thousands of years. We were the original immigrants, when this land was wide open. Now it’s time for a little history lesson. I believe it is important that we learn the history of this country good and bad. Native American tribes were always considered sovereign nations which usually meant we were on our own.

Ultimately the secret of my success did lie in my heritage because in 1987 the supreme court decided a tribe could have gambling. I was born into the right tribe. It was like we won the lottery not the mega millions but one that will pay your bills. It allows us to offer educational and job opportunities for our members. Maybe a casino isn’t a fair trade since we lost a whole country to illegal immigrants but it’s a start. But it feels pretty good to be the tribal chairman. It was a thrill to be introduced to Queen Elizabeth as the leader of the Shotowa. Not bad for a kid raised in Section 14. Today our story is in the Smithsonian.

I know that there are casinos all over Southern California now, but in the early days opening a casino wasn’t easy. We had to sneak slot machines in at two a.m. For the first few years we lived in fear of the feds shutting us down, Then the voters of California made it legal under Proposition 5.

I know everyone tells you get your education but when I left this place more school was the last thing on my mind. I joined the Marines and stayed there for about ten years and one divorce. But when I returned home with no career path, I went to work at a Native bingo hall. I learned owning a casino was like printing money. I had found my calling. I could help do good things for the Shotowa Tribe.

I pledged that if the tribal council would send me to college for business I would find a way for us to open a casino. This time I studied hard because it was my idea and I couldn’t let the tribe down. My most helpful class turned out to be business etiquette. I learned how to have a meal with potential investors and more importantly how to listen and when to speak. Because in life it’s all about the relationships you create. Always surround yourself with good people.

I will leave you with this piece of advice. Try not to dwell in the past. If Native Americans felt like that we would never get up in the morning. Your story will contain twists and turns which will make for an interesting life. You have to lose a few times to appreciate winning.

I start each day anew and thank Mother Earth for her bounties. I ask her how can I best help the Tribe. We live in a beautiful place and we need to care for it. Go out in the world and make your mark, take advantage of all the opportunities life gives you. You may not be the smartest or the richest, I sure wasn’t. But you are the only you, and you have your own story to write. 

                    

Cara Bertoia is the author of Casino Queen a new suspense novel published by The Wild Rose Press. It is based on the many true stories she lived through in her many years in the casino industry although the names have been changed to protect the guilty. Read the blurb here.

Caroline Popov, alone, heartbroken, and deeply in debt ends up in glamorous Palm Springs, California where Native casinos have just opened, offering employment to thousands. She lands a job at the Palm Oasis Casino and is mentored by the charismatic tribal chairman, John Tovar.

Embraced by casino culture, Caroline works her way up to casino manager of the Night Hawk, in the High Desert town of Joshua Tree. There, she is responsible for managing multicultural team members, satisfying the demands of challenging guests, growing revenue while rooting out corruption.

In the process of rediscovering her inner strength, she learns, you have to gamble like your life depends on it. With her life on the line can she pull out a win?


Click the link below to order at Amazon

Casino Queen (Night Hawk Casino Series Book 1) - Kindle edition by Bertoia, Cara. Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.    

Click the link below to order at Barnes and Noble 

Casino Queen by Cara Bertoia | NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble® (barnesandnoble.com)

.                         

                         To check out my interview in The Big Thrill, click the link below.

Casino Queen by Cara Bertoia | THE BIG THRILL

A Day At The Beach Is Just Around The Corner, So Swimsuit Season Is Here Again, Welcome To The New Normal!

 


What is normal these days? They sell a mixture that contains 15% pink slime, and they call it lean ground beef, they put high fructose corn syrup in canned tomato soup, and when you fly on a plane you have to pay to check your baggage. These things happen and gradually we just accept them. And now in clothing sizes who the hell knows what the new Normal is? I am planning on going on a cruise next month and that means I have to buy a new swimsuit! 

I was dragging my husband with me shopping the other day. If he doesn’t like something I wear he lets me know it, so I decided he should go with me while I picked an outfit out, to bypass the insult. We were wandering around the department store where I was trying to find some new t-shirts. Well, that might seem easy enough, but I wanted a shirt that you couldn’t see through, that you could wash and that came past my belly button so that the top of my ass wouldn’t show every time I bent down.

My sweet husband picked up a t-shirt and held it up for me, “I like this it must be about your size.”

Bless his heart he had picked up a small. “A small are you kidding, have you looked at that shirt.” He held it up, and I would have sworn it wouldn’t fit a young child, but I looked around, and we were in the women’s department.

“Well, how about this one,” he reached for a medium.

“A medium, who do you think I am, one of the Olsen twins? When they were in Full House."

“What do you mean - you aren’t a medium?”

“A medium, I hate to break it to you but for the last five years I have been an extra large, not a large but an extra large, and god forbid I ever throw it in the dryer.” I grabbed an extra large shirt and held it up to me.

I could see his confusion. I am 5'5" and weigh 135 pounds on a good day, 137 on a bad one. A weight that shouldn’t be considered extra large. A weight that wasn’t considered extra large not so long ago. A weight that is a little below normal on the height and weight charts. A weight that I worked damn hard to get to in the last two years. I have lost weight but the funny thing is the more weight I lose the bigger my clothing size. I know there is something funny going on.

I am convinced that all the clothing manufacturers got together and said. Hey, how can we make the American woman feel even worse about herself? We can resize all her clothes. We will base all our measurements on a thirteen year old girl. And since everything is manufactured abroad the manufacturers can send anything over here slap any old size on it and save on materials! It doesn’t mean that the clothes will be cheaper. I keep hoping that since everything is made in China this is only a translation problem and XL really means Extra Lucky.
The perfect fit, a Grecian Slender Suit!
                                                            

But if you won't tell anyone I will let you in on a little secret. I don't dread buying a bathing suit. Would you like to know how you will never again have to stand under those unforgiving fluorescent lights in a retail store fitting room? One of the happiest days of my year is when The Lands' End swimsuit catalog arrives. For the last ten years I have ordered all my bathing suits through the internet. I choose a size larger than my own a 12 instead of a 10, and god bless, besides a great selection they even have long waisted swimsuits.

No, I don't have any affiliation with the company, and I am not getting a free swimsuit. But if they happen upon this blog and they are feeling generous I would love a Slender Suit, holds you in at all the right places, in the Sweetheart or Grecian style in that pretty rose color I saw in the catalog.

In the meantime, we the American consumer will grit our teeth and swallow a Zanax every time we have to go to the mall. It just means that if we find anything that fits we will wear it until the seams dissolve. I don't think it is as bad in Britain when my husband and I go to Scotland to visit his family I always go to Frazer's to  buy clothes because I seem to wear an average size there. As for gifts I never give anyone clothes anymore, I don’t want my friends to unwrap something labeled XL and get insulted.

Yes, our destruction is complete; the sexy, curvy American woman has been replaced by a botoxed, size 0 model, what kind of size is 0? So I give up and surrender and wait for the day when I become an extra, extra large or extra, extra lucky.

Cara Bertoia is the author of Casino Queen a new suspense novel published by The Wild Rose Press. It is based on the many true stories she lived through in her many years in the casino industry although the names have been changed to protect the guilty. Read the blurb here.

Caroline Popov, alone, heartbroken, and deeply in debt ends up in glamorous Palm Springs, California where Native casinos have just opened, offering employment to thousands. She lands a job at the Palm Oasis Casino and is mentored by the charismatic tribal chairman, John Tovar.

Embraced by casino culture, Caroline works her way up to casino manager of the Night Hawk, in the High Desert town of Joshua Tree. There, she is responsible for managing multicultural team members, satisfying the demands of challenging guests, growing revenue while rooting out corruption.

In the process of rediscovering her inner strength, she learns, you have to gamble like your life depends on it. With her life on the line can she pull out a win?


Click the link below to order at Amazon

Casino Queen (Night Hawk Casino Series Book 1) - Kindle edition by Bertoia, Cara. Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.    

Click the link below to order at Barnes and Noble 

Casino Queen by Cara Bertoia | NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble® (barnesandnoble.com)

.                          

                         To check out my interview in The Big Thrill, click the link below.

Casino Queen by Cara Bertoia | THE BIG THRILL


7 Awesome Things I Didn't Realize I Would Love So Much When I Moved Into A High-Rise

 

Share a glass of wine with me on the balcony!

There are seven awesome things I didn’t realize I would love so much when I moved into a high rise. I have lived in many places, houses, apartments, a cabin on a cruise ship, and even lived in a trailer in the desert one hot miserable summer. But a few years ago, my husband and I moved to Florida, so I could move closer to family, and he could work at the Hard Rock. I had one demand I wanted to live on the ocean. It had been a dream of mine all my life. I wanted to go to sleep at night with the sound of the waves roaring in the background. Unfortunately, we installed hurricane doors and windows that work so well I can’t hear the ocean when the doors are shut.

We sold our house, and moved into a much smaller apartment, almost half the size. We live in a complex of four buildings, 800 apartments. Of course, the haters all wondered how I could leave a house for an apartment in the sky.

From Boca Raton to South Beach the A1A is high rise heaven. The road is bordered with high rises Fifty miles of ocean front apartments for every taste. From the glamour of Bal Harbour to the futuristic skyline of Sunny Isles there is a wide range of choices. 

My husband and I love to travel and it is so nice not to have to worry about our apartment when we are gone. Another great perk there is always someone at the reception desk to accept our packages and make sure they will be there when we return from our trip. My husband works until four in the morning, I love knowing that security is near.

 

Our newly renovated lobby!

I don’t know about you, but I have bought many gym memberships but at the end of a long day the thought of getting back in my car and going to the gym is daunting. Now I just have to take the elevator down to gym, they even offer yoga. It is hardly ever busy, and I can always get the machine of my choice.   

Even better than the gym is the restaurant. It will never be awarded a Michelin star but if I’m hungry and lazy I can go downstairs. I hate to get a lukewarm pizza, well I can order a handmade one just a short elevator ride away. That means it is hot and tasty when it arrives at my door.

This is the perk that really seals the deal. The first time I saw beach service was on the French Riviera. You could rent an umbrella and a chair, at exorbitant rates in Cannes. Now, when I decide to go the beach, I ride the elevator down. Someone grabs me a beach chair and an umbrella and I’m set up for a day at the beach, like at a fancy hotel but better, it’s free. Then I grab lunch, beach service is a game changer.

To live in an apartment, you have to embrace a minimalist style. Too much clutter, and you begin to seem like a hoarder. I had to get rid of most of my furniture. It was too big for my apartment, but then I got to buy new stuff. Since I love furniture shopping maybe it was a plus. 

Southern Florida is a mecca for people from all over the world. They all want to live here, Russians, Colombians, Venezuelans, Canadians, and even a few Americans mostly from New York. Needless to say, our homeowners’ meetings are very entertaining.

 

I finally found the end of the rainbow!

The most amazing thing is living on the 22nd floor. I am always in sight of the sea. When I sit on the balcony, I get to watch the birds fly by. Since our apartment overlooks the beach and the famous Broadwalk in Hollywood we can watch the action below us. As a city girl I like to be around people, and here I never have to be alone. One of our favorite things is sitting on the balcony, and watching the cruise ships sail out of Port Everglades. I can lie in bed and pretend I am on am onboard.

I am just trying to spread a little cheer in the world. I would love to hear what is awesome about where you live. Because sometimes we forget that, ‘life is good,’ is not just a slogan on a T-shirt.



Click the link below to order at Amazon

Casino Queen (Night Hawk Casino Series Book 1) - Kindle edition by Bertoia, Cara. Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.    

Click the link below to order at Barnes and Noble 

Casino Queen by Cara Bertoia | NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble® (barnesandnoble.com)

                      

                         To check out my interview in The Big Thrill, click the link below.

Casino Queen by Cara Bertoia | THE BIG THRILL

Cara Bertoia is the author of Casino Queen a new mystery novel that will be published by the Wild Rose Press on March 16th. It is based on the many true stories she lived through in her many years in the casino industry although the names have been changed to protect the guilty. Read the blurb here.

Caroline Popov, alone, heartbroken, and deeply in debt ends up in glamorous Palm Springs, California where Native casinos have just opened, offering employment to thousands. She lands a job at the Palm Oasis Casino and is mentored by the charismatic tribal chairman, John Tovar.

Embraced by casino culture, Caroline works her way up to casino manager of the Night Hawk, in the High Desert town of Joshua Tree. There, she is responsible for managing multicultural team members, satisfying the demands of challenging guests, growing revenue while rooting out corruption.

In the process of rediscovering her inner strength, she learns, you have to gamble like your life depends on it. Because it often does.


Married at first Sight - Boston Redeux


Married at First Sight returns to Boston and I couldn’t be happier. When I was younger, I lived in Boston, had a job in high tech, and bought an apartment. At the time I worked at a high-tech firm and traveled the Northeast as a systems analyst on an expense account. I moved there to take advantage of the fact that it is a walking city filled with ethnic neighborhoods, beaches, and a river runs through it, but best of all my father grew up there. There are so many entertainment options, classes, shows, plays, festivals and even rowing that it would be hard to get bored. I also love the accent.

There was just one thing I couldn’t find, a good boyfriend. It would seem like in a city loaded with young, smart and educated people this would be a snap. But in reality, I just met crazy people each one crazier than the next. A boyfriend that didn’t want to see me on our days off, one that always wanted to remind me I wasn’t the one, and one that was massively depressed all the time. If I close my eyes, I can see that lonely woman looking for love. At the time I would have loved a panel of experts picking a mate for me. Since I didn’t have them, I began to think it was me. Discouraged and bored by my job, I ran off to sea to become a croupier and met the love of my life. Glad to know, it really wasn’t me, it was them!

I really feel for these couples. I have watched MAFS faithfully since season one. This is the only reality show I would have applied for if I was single because single people need all the help they can get.  I consider myself a ‘Hopeful Romantic’ and every season I hope the experts get it right. It also has a remarkable success rate. Way higher than the Bachelor. It is great to see all the happy couples the show has produced like Shawniece and Jephte from season 6, the first time the show filmed in Boston. Now it is season fourteen and the weddings begin soon. After watching the matchmaking special, I will make my predictions, then later on in the season I will update them. It is always so great to see how these new couples react to one another. I think watching MAFS is the greatest tool singles can watch and learn from to help them navigate relationships.

 


Our first couple Lindsey and Mark seem ideal on paper. Both are kind, caring and love cats. This is the second time that Mark has tried out for the show. The first question is, will Lindsey be attracted to him? Attraction seems to be the most important part of the equation. Occasionally, a woman will grow attraction for a guy so let’s hope Lindsey appreciates Mark’s finer qualities. Also, will Mark be able to tolerate Lindsey’s hyper personality? I’m sure she acts out because of insecurities so let’s hope the he makes her feel secure. I have a feeling this couple is doomed.

 


Noi and Steve are another couple that seem great but don’t they all in the matchmaking special? These two come from big beautiful families. The only problem is that Steve doesn’t have a job at the moment. He is also suffering from a case of wanderlust. Will he be able to stay in Boston long enough to make the marriage work? I think they just might pull it off and stay together.

 


Katina and Olajuwon look great together. My only question is, why do men think that women want to go to strip clubs with them to look at other women? That does not seem like a very fun thing to do. Ask Yara from Ninety Day Fiancé, Jovi took her to a strip club, and she was bored to tears. The fact that he is just a little too much into his looks, that does not bode well for them. I think they will break up spectacularly.

 


I think this can work out if Jassmina can get over the fact that Michael is short, not that short, just too short for a woman who wants a tall guy. He seems wonderful and very dedicated to the process. Can he get over the fact his sisters have spoiled him like no other woman will? I just don’t think she will be attracted  to him and that it will all fall apart. So regretfully I am giving them two thumbs down.

 


This last couple pull at my heartstrings. Chris is the kind of guy I would have loved to have found when I lived in Boston. He is cute, motivated to work hard, he even does his own videos as the ‘Real Estate Professor.’ Alyssa rescues animals and he wants a dog, what could go wrong? I don’t know if she will be attracted to him, he seems a little softer than she is. He probably isn’t the type of guy she will fall for, but he is the type of guy she should. I don’t see it lasting but the great thing about the show is that we will soon find out!

 Let me know what you think about the new couples. Check back here throughout the season for updates and predictions.


.

Click the link below to order at Amazon

Casino Queen (Night Hawk Casino Series Book 1) - Kindle edition by Bertoia, Cara. Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Click the link below to order at Barnes and Noble 

Casino Queen by Cara Bertoia | NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble® (barnesandnoble.com)

Cara Bertoia is the author of Casino Queen a new mystery novel that will be published by the Wild Rose Press on March 16th. It is based on the many true stories she lived through in her many years in the casino industry although the names have been changed to protect the guilty. Read the blurb here.

Caroline Popov, alone, heartbroken, and deeply in debt ends up in glamorous Palm Springs, California where Native casinos have just opened, offering employment to thousands. She lands a job at the Palm Oasis Casino and is mentored by the charismatic tribal chairman, John Tovar.

Embraced by casino culture, Caroline works her way up to casino manager of the Night Hawk, in the High Desert town of Joshua Tree. There, she is responsible for managing multicultural team members, satisfying the demands of challenging guests, growing revenue while rooting out corruption.

With her life on the line, can she pull out a win?

.

 

 

 

Below Deck Season Nine Sails From Saint Kitts -- On Bravo

 

THE FIRST CREW OF BELOW DECKS ABOVE DECKS

Ever since I was very young I always wanted to run away to sea. I was born in Charleston, S.C. and love the ocean. I did finally join a cruise ship as a croupier and everywhere we sailed to, there were yachts. At the Cannes Film festival there were gorgeous yachts filled with beautiful Europeans. In the Caribbean the yachts moored in secluded coves too small for cruise ships. Have you ever been curious about what it is like to be part of the crew on a private yacht?

Now I have your answer. Bravo's reality show Below Decks is returning with its ninth season, and I have been cruising with them since the launch. In the pilot the show sailed out of Saint Martin which holds a special place in my heart because my future husband and I had our first date there. It is a beautiful island divided into a Dutch side filled with duty-free shops and a French side filled with fantastic restaurants.  We both worked on a cruise ship, the best part of a cruise ship is that you have much more time off than the crew of a private yacht. They work with fifteen other crew members we worked with over six hundred. This season the crew will sail out of Saint Kitts another beautiful island in the Caribbean.

In the show the crew is on call twenty-four hours a day. The officers are trained professionals, but most of the cast is a group of attractive people doing essentially service and maintenance jobs; you won’t need your college degree here. But since the pay is all in tips and room and board is included what a great place to save up money to pay off those loans. The cost of the cruise can run up to $150,000 a week, and the average tip is between 10 to 15%v of the cost, so tips for each crew member averages between $1,000 and $2,000 a week. That being said some of the guests are very difficult, the chef has to change his menu on a guest’s whim, and the stewards might have to not only unpack but iron all the passengers’ clothes. You would think they would go on vacation to relax but to type ‘A’ personalities making demands and finding fault are part of a good vacation. Since most people bring their friends it is also a way to try to impress your mates with your importance. It really does show how hard the work is and that you have to have nerves of steel, to handle out of line comments such as ‘how great your tits are’.

Because this is a reality show, the focus is definitely on bad behavior. On their one day off a week it is all about getting pissed and hooking up. It was like that on a cruise ship we even had a crew bar, but we had some time off everyday, so when we got to port our major focus was sight seeing - and then getting pissed. As for shipboard romances, being a hopeful romantic I am all for them. I met my husband when we both worked on a cruise ship, and with no commute to work, or bills to pay for rent or food, it was a wonderful experience, a vacation from the real world. We computed everything in ships time, a week at sea is like a month on land for a new romance. The most fun part of every season is figuring who will hook up.

Every season has their issues. This is what I wrote about the first season. Sam hates Adrienne her boss because she is very demanding. CJ is upset because the captain keeps telling him to put his shirt back on. I can tell you if Sam was on a cruise ship she would have been booted off before the week was over for insolence. On a cruise ship an officer is to be obeyed. Only Captain Lee and Eddie Lucas are still cast members and they are the heart and soul of the cast.

This show will be interesting for anyone who loves to cruise. The setting is beautiful and there are facts to be gleaned between the cat-fights. The crew works hard and parties hard, but the work is the main focus for any crew. I just wish the show was more focused on the mechanics of the cruise world but alas the show is on Bravo not the Discovery Channel. I left cruise ships with wonderful memories and a Scottish husband, and thought not everyone can be that lucky. I am sure the crew of Below Decks will cherish this experience for the rest of their lives.



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Casino Queen (Night Hawk Casino Series Book 1) - Kindle edition by Bertoia, Cara. Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Click the below to order at Barnes and Noble

Casino Queen by Cara Bertoia | NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble® (barnesandnoble.com)

Cara Bertoia is the author of Casino Queen a new mystery novel that will be published by the Wild Rose Press on March 16th. It is based on the many true stories she lived through in her many years in the casino industry although the names have been changed to protect the guilty. Read the blurb here.

Caroline Popov, alone, heartbroken, and deeply in debt ends up in glamorous Palm Springs, California where Native casinos have just opened, offering employment to thousands. She lands a job at the Palm Oasis Casino and is mentored by the charismatic tribal chairman, John Tovar.

Embraced by casino culture, Caroline works her way up to casino manager of the Night Hawk, in the High Desert town of Joshua Tree. There, she is responsible for managing multicultural team members, satisfying the demands of challenging guests, growing revenue while rooting out corruption.

In the process of rediscovering her inner strength, she learns, you have to gamble like your life depends on it. Because it often does.rtoia is the author of Casino Queen a new mystery novel that will be published by the Wild Rose Press on March 16th. It is based on the many true stories she lived through in her many years in the casino industry although the names have been changed to protect the guilty. Read the blurb here.

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