Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Recap: Day Three Cozumel

I had another early wake-up call this morning to make sure I didn’t sleep through the beach party. Well early by my standards. But after all, we signed up for no sleep when we booked the cruise, so I shouldn’t have been too surprised.

I moseyed up to the lido restaurant to grab a quick breakfast and tried to eat light since I knew we’d have a Mexican buffet at the beach. After I sat down, my friend across the table whispered to me that Howie was eating with his family right behind me. Sadly, I didn’t even realize this when I sat down. Not sure if I didn’t see him because I was becoming jaded to the fact that I was running into a Backstreet Boys every few hours or if it’s because Howie just blends in so well with the crowd. Nonetheless, a great way to start the morning.

After he was finished eating he stopped and did a few pictures, so I hopped in line. And by line, I mean mass of people. He maybe did 20 pictures or so and I was next up when he decided to leave. I was slightly disappointed but I never wanted to be that pushy fan so I didn’t force my camera in his face. Looking back, I wouldn’t have changed anything about this, though I really wish I was able to get a picture that morning since Howie was the only Backstreet Boy I didn’t get a picture next to from the trip. Oh well…hopefully next cruise.

Next item on the agenda- Beach Party! I went back to my cabin and dowsed myself with suntan lotion so I wouldn’t burn and then headed to the Palladium Lounge so I wouldn’t miss the bus. Based on how full the lounge was in Group A (and assuming Group B was the same size) I would estimate that there were around 900 people who did the beach party excursion, which seemed to be the majority of people. So I’m not really sure how “limited” the space to this event ever really was.

While I was walking to the bus, I heard that Nick was in Three Amigos at that very moment. I was so tempted to ditch the group and run for the bar! Alas, the practical side of me realized that if I missed my bus, I wouldn’t know where I was going. That in addition to the non-stalker side of me urged me forward to the buses.

Beach Party

When we arrived at Playa Mia, it was so nice to see the beautiful beach and the clear water. Far nicer than the crummy beaches I’m used to on the Eastern shore. I grabbed a table with a few friends- grabbed a drink, grabbed some food, and just relaxed. Overall a great atmosphere at Playa Mia. Even without the Backstreet Boys I'd go back... just not for the food.

Me and the Gals

Not too much time to relax before their crew arrived at the beach to start setting up the stage. The crowds quickly started to grow around the stage and I realized if I wanted any chance in hell to see, I’d better start waiting myself. After the crowd was maybe 5 rows of people deep, one of the crew members tried to send us back to our seats because it would still be a while before the stage was set up and the Backstreet Boys would come out. Apparently he didn’t know just how long us fans would be willing to wait for our Backstreet Boys. I still didn’t really know what to expect from this event as the only thing promised was “an appearance by the Backstreet Boys” But when I saw them set up 4 microphones I was hopeful that we might be in for more than just an appearance.

A few hours has passed since we arrived and still no Backstreet Boys. I was starting to get a little antsy, but they finally showed up on normal Backstreet time around 4:00. This gave me 2 wonderful hours to share the beach with BSB. They all stayed up in the VIP area for a bit. Nick, clad in his ‘I’m on a Boat’ T-Shirt, started squirting us with a water gun and it was so cute to watch Howie play with his son. I got a little nervous seeing him run around up there, afraid he might fall off. To clarify, I’m talking about James, not Howie. I don’t think Howie had that much to drink :)

Howie and James

Nick and his water gun

When they finally made their way to the stage, they did a round of twister. The winning girls received Platinum VIP tickets to a concert of their choice. What a fantastic prize!

Howie having fun with twister

AJ and Brian having fun

At some point during twister, Nick rather suddenly decided to go for a swim. Before I could blink he printed towards the ocean. I was so conflicted…I had a semi-decent view of the stage so I was unsure if I should stay put or follow Nick. Silly question- I opted for the latter. AJ was also quick to follow.

AJ and Nick on the water trampoline

AJ trying to get out of the water...
...Nick having a slightly easier time

The rest of the afternoon was fun-filled with Brian and Howie hosting limbo; AJ and Nick hosting tug of war; and the guys playing volleyball (though I unfortunately missed that) Guess you can’t be everywhere at once. Overall, a fantastic excursion with some memories I will never forget.

Howie Playing Limbo

Brian and Howie get low for the limbo

Once I made it back on board, I had another lovely dinner with a view of Brian out of the corner of my eye. No exciting antics in the dining room that night, probably because AJ didn’t show up. He was definitely the life of the party on the ship, and I loved him even more for it. Nothing else horribly exciting happened in between dinner and the karaoke. I did catch Nick and Howie in the casino playing some black jack and craps. I like how they had caution tape around the table to block them off from the public. I wish I could have gotten a picture of that, but no cameras allowed in the casino.

Shining Star Karaoke

I would have to rate this event as the most unexpected fun I had on the trip. I was really expecting drunk fans to get up on stage and butcher BSB songs, but that was far from the case. It turned out that the Backstreet Boys were up on stage hosting karaoke, and they would occasionally get in on the act as well. Fans got up and sang 10,000 promises, I Want it That Way, Larger than Life, We’ve Got it Going On, as well as a few non-BSB songs as well. One highlight for me was AJ and his friend Madonna Mark singing like a Virgin. AJ just got so into it! However the clear favorite of the evening from the Backstreet Boys and fans alike was Baby Got Back. Not much more I can say beyond sharing the video:

I love how embarrassed Nick gets

Hearing Howie rap made me smile

The Backstreet Boys at Karaoke

Karaoke ended around 2:00 am, but the night was far from over. After I freshened up, I went back to the casino probably around 3:00 and saw a crowd of people around the black jack table. Gee, I wonder why? Turns out AJ was there playing. However I would almost call it more of a mini-show. Unlike Nick and Howie in the casino earlier who couldn’t really be bothered by the fans, AJ was chatting and interacting with us, telling us funny stories, etc. I so wish I could have taken pictures/videos of this, but the memories will have to suffice. He talked about his Halo photo shoot, was playing with a doll of himself that a fan made- deeming it his good luck charm, and just having a great time. He also talked about the beach party earlier that day and how he was so out of breath when he ran into the water after Nick to go swimming. He was joking how out of shape he was. The casino finally kicked him out at 4:00am, so he told us to all meet him in the club.

I had a blast at the club with him! He continued to be so great with the fans, I don’t know how he didn’t get sick of us. At one point he was on the dance floor dancing with us and had about 3 layers of girls around him. Meanwhile there were a few other guys off to the side who looked so disappointed that it wasn’t them in the middle of all those girls. AJ also DJed for a while, really getting the crowd going. I unfortunately left the club before AJ decided to do a meet and greet with everyone there. I found out the next day and I’m still kicking myself over that. This is my one and only regret of the cruise…so I’m just going to move on before I make myself too upset :(

DJ AJ getting the party started at the disco

Friday, December 24, 2010

Recap: Day Two Key West

I woke up on Friday still unsure of whether or not I wanted to get off the ship to see Key West. Figuring I could decide over breakfast, I grabbed my bacon and eggs and sat near the pool under the beautiful Key West sun. Somehow that quick breakfast turned into an hour just relaxing, chatting with friends, making a few phone calls, etc. Thus I decided to stay on the ship and skip out on going to explore Key West. I just needed the time to unwind do nothing.

I turned out to be quite happy with my decision. I took the time to explore the halls and check out everyone’s door decorations. I had put mine up the day prior:

Not going to lie, I was kinda upset that I didn’t get at least an honorable mention.

I had tons of fun making this, even though it took quite a while. It’s basically thousands of pictures of the guys that are arranged to make up one larger picture. I just knew I wanted to do something different than your average collage. Though I probably should have taken my own advice and done some sort of theme as those were the ones that seemed to catch the judges eyes. I really enjoyed walking down the halls and seeing how creative people got. I could have spent 5-10 minutes at each door appreciating all the subtle nuances of each one, but I didn’t have quite that much time or energy.

For future reference, these are the doors that received an honorable mention/won
  • Pirates themed
  • Now Showing Backstreet Boys' movie theater theme going all out with curtains
  • iPod
  • Love Boat
  • 3D Diorama of the I'll Never Break Your Heart Rooms
  • Disco Ball stage
  • And the Grand winner of front row seats to the concert did a locker theme
Here are some pics of the doors that caught my eye:

INBYH door

Everybody themed door

Pirates of the Caribbean Theme

My Neighbor's Door with their concert tickets

Winning DoorInside of Winning Door


This was another one of my favorite events (Yes, I realize I say that about all of them, but they were all great!) I was pleasantly surprised how long this event ran and how thoughtful and unique most of the questions were.

I found the Q&A to be quite an informative hour and a half. I learned not to get Howie an ironing board; that Nick has a ‘high crack’; AJ’s drag queen name would be Priscilla Queen of the Desert; and Brian bought his wife 2 cars in the span of a week . I was seriously laughing for the entire time. I just about lost it when Nick got up to pee in the middle of the event.

Here are a few of my favorite clips:

Howie's Ironing Board Story

Brian Emulating Kevin

Nature calls for Nick

After the Q&A, my tummy was grumbling, though I wasn’t nearly as hungry as Nick seemed to be. Unfortunately I was not the only one who had the idea to head to the grill so the lines were crazy long. However, as I was headed across the pool deck to go wait in line, I bumped into Nick and his bodyguard which was absolutely delightful. There were no other fans around, so I shook his hand and had my fleeting moment with Nick. Even though I wasn’t going to ask for a picture, his body guard still yelled “No pictures!” He should just record himself saying “No pictures!” so he can save his voice.

Next item on the agenda- hit up the BSB merchandise store. They had lots of fun goodies- tshirts, hoodies, key chains, shot glasses, tote bags, beach towels, etc. I did some major credit card damage in here. I had always wanted the ‘This is Us’ hoodie , so I decided to splurge on that along with a few other cruise themed items. Toting all my loot, I headed back to my cabin and got ready for the Captain’s dinner.

Waiting for the Captain's Dinner

This night, dinner was slightly more chaotic, and would get increasingly more crazy as the days passed. Once people realized where the Backstreet Boys were sitting, people got pretty agressive and were fighting over where to sit.

We managed to snag another great table near the Backstreet Boys and met some other great fans at our table. The best part of the evening was when AJ came over and danced with our friend Jessica, who happened to be sitting next me.

Masquerade NightThis was my favorite deck party of the cruise. It was nice to see everyone dressed up including Nick in his scary mask. Overall just a great vibe. They were throwing out bead necklaces into the crowd and I was able to catch one from Brian :)

Masquerade night

Nick with his creepy mask
I thought they did a nice mix of their songs, music by other artists, and even some stuff not released to the public yet! They played a new NKOTBSB song- 'Don't Turn out the Lights Now' and a few songs off of Nick's new album. The fact that they played these new songs for us made me feel really special. One of my highlights of the whole trip was when AJ sang London. Something about this song- I just love it!

My absolute favorite song- London

New NKOTBSB song- Don't Turn out the Lights Now
After the party was over, I headed to bed with the anticipation that AJ may come knocking on my door to wake me up. By the way, that's such a fantastic way to head to bed. Wish I could do that every night. And I'm not going to lie, I got slightly dressed up to sleep that night, but unfortunately I didn't have any luck. Though from what I understand AJ did hit a few decks that evening and treated many fans with a surprise. While I wasn't one of the lucky ones, I thought it was just great that he did this. They really do care about us fans :) I don't think I managed to get to sleep until 5:00 that night due to the anticipation.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Recap: Day One

I got out of bed this morning from another sleepless night of anticipation for the cruise. Our goal was to get to the terminal early so we would be among the first to board, and hopefully catch a glimpse of the Backstreet Boys. So around 10:00 we made our way to the terminal.

After checking in, we plopped ourselves in front of the VIP check in area. No sooner than we sat down and get settled that I saw Nick sneak into the VIP check in area, followed by girls rushing over. Thus would start the pandemonium of the next 4 days. This poor couple in front of me asked what was going on. They had absolutely no idea that this was a Backstreet Boy cruise and had a look of ‘Oh oh, what did we get ourselves into?’. Though we pointed out to the gentleman that there would be plenty of young ladies on board which cheered him up… his wife, not quite as happy. I still can’t believe they didn’t tell the ‘regular’ cruisers that this was going on.

Anyway, it was nice to see all of the Backstreet Boys along with their family members board.

Howie and his family boarding

My memory is a little fuzzy, but I believe it was around 11:30 that they started to let us board. This was probably the most exciting part of the trip for me- finally to step board the Destiny with the whole vacation to look forward to. However there was no time to enjoy the moment, as we were whisked away to the main dining room to check in and get our wristbands. My assumptions were correct, I was in Row D, which in reality was the 6th row. 6th row sounds great, but I was way off to the side so unfortunately I had an obstructed view for some of the events. But I still can’t complain, just to be anywhere in that lounge was an incredible opportunity.

Once I completed check in, it was time for some much needed lunch. On the way to the buffet, I ran into Nick at the elevator. What a great way to start the trip! He was in a rush somewhere, thus I decided not to bother him. So I continued my journey to the buffet- where I saw Howie and Brian both eating with their families in the corner. I was lucky to have some friends who snagged a table right next to Brian, so I happily decided to join them. The only downside eating next to Howie and Brian is that I was too excited to eat much of anything. Nonetheless, it was nice to catch up with these girls whom I hadn’t seen in a few months. For the most part, people seemed to be pretty respectful of their space, though there were a few girls who were taking pictures and would try to grab a picture with him. I waited patiently for them to finish eating, Howie ran off pretty quickly but Brian stayed for a while and took pictures with the fans. I was one of the lucky few to grab a picture :)

Me and Brian :)

Ok, so I was on the ship for not even 3 hours and I’ve already run into 3 of the guys and was able to take my picture with Brian. I knew this would be the trip of a life time! And with that, I made my way to the lounge for the Family Feud and Dating Game Show.

I absolutely LOVED the family feud event. I thought it was so funny, with quite a few references to porn throughout the show. I could tell you about it, but instead I’ll just show you a few of my favorite clips:

AJs alternative career paths

Name something Brian would bring on tour...

The dating game was also a great time, but I didn’t enjoy this as much as family feud. I just think it would’ve been more entertaining to see the roles reversed where the Backstreet Boys answer the questions, and the girls ask the questions. My favorite part of this show was when Brian asked the girls their favorite position, just because you could see how uncomfortable it made him.

Brian at the dating game...

No time to rest after the show…we quickly ran to the welcome aboard cocktail party, hosted by the Backstreet Boys and drinks were on them! I had a delightful blue fruity concoction. I probably should have grabbed more of those when I had the chance.

After the cocktail party up on deck, we headed to the Universe dining room to wait for dinner. They opened the doors and at this point it was still unknown if the Backstreet Boys would be eating with us or not. The dining room was empty, but Cory did catch one of the Rose Tours staff in the corner of the room. So we decided to grab a table by her…..just in case. Boy did we luck into the right table! By the time our appetizers had arrived, all of the Backstreet Boys, their family and friends, crew, etc were all just feet away eating dinner from us. We deemed the table “the princess table” since it was literally overlooking the Backstreet Boys. Unfortunately, they decided to reserve that table the following nights for security, so we were the only ones to have the opportunity to eat at that table. I felt so special.

Me and the gals at the princess table

We were very respectful of their space and didn’t take any pictures except for the one above, thus unfortunately I don’t have any better pictures to share. But I had a great view, great company, and a great waiter- Big D. I was still too anxious from all the festivities, and didn’t eat too much at dinner. By the time dessert rolled around, the dining room erupted with the music of T-Pain and Apple Bottom Jeans. Before I knew what was going on, AJ and Nick were rushing past me to join the waiters to dance on the tables. I’m still heartbroken that I wasn’t able to capture that on film, but lucky for me Cory was able to capture a video. Cory, you saved the day!

Not sure why I enjoyed this so much. Just a lot of fun to be a part of

I was too distracted after this to finish my chocolate melting cake, which was probably for the best.

By the time I got back to my room, I was pleased to find a little goody bag on my bed that contained a rubby ducky, masquerade beads, bubbles, a program, a temporary tattoo, glow in the dark bracelets, and a photo of NKOTBSB. Most of the items were pretty cheap, but I suppose it was a nice touch for all the theme parties. I also realized that channel 36 was my dream channel playing Backstreet Boy DVDs and TV show appearances 24/7. As if I already didn't have enough to do! But I thought both of these were really nice extra touches that I enjoyed. Every subsequent time I was in my room, the first thing I would do is turn on the Backstreet Boy channel.

International Luv Night
What a great way to kick off the cruise! Everyone was in high spirits and I think Brian won the best dressed award. He sure as heck beat me on the US costume

Me in my O's gear

Brian showing his US pride

It was great to see what everyone wore. I played it pretty low key and wore my Baltimore Orioles jersey figuring baseball is about as American as you can get. Brian was obviously showing some USA love, AJ representing Scotland with his kilt, Nick decked out in Japan gear, and Howie with his Portugal jacket (ok this one I dont get lol)

There were so many highlights from this night that I cant possible share them all. AJ and Brian had a hilarious dance off trying to do some of their choreography, but failed after numerous attempts. AJ again referenced how much he loved friends by running through each BSB and deciding which Friends character they were most like. They all came down and interacted with the fans on the deck, or at least tried to before getting mobbed. Nick was handing out free shots. The night was just amazing. This is one of my favorite parts when Nick and AJ were on the bar goofing around:

Shot, Shot, Shot

Figuring the night couldn't get much better, I went to bed probably around 4am or so waiting to see what Key West had in store.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Recap: Acoustic Show in Miami

The trip finally started with an early wake up call on December 8th so I could make my way down to Miami. Met a few interesting characters along the way- got to sit next to a pilot on the plane and a scout for major league baseball in the terminal. They both had some pretty cool stories, but my mind was really only focused on the trip ahead.

Once I finally touched down in Miami airport, I could see the palm trees and was ready for the vacation to begin! I knew I wanted to get to the venue as quickly as possible for the show that evening (darn general admission) After a lot of running around and some gross McDonalds French fries, the 4 gals arrived at the venue to see that the line was probably already 100 people long.

Waiting in line for the show to begin

I’ve been to many BSB concerts in my day, but this acoustic show ranks up there as one my favorites. It wasn’t a long set, maybe 9-10 songs, but it was so nice seeing them in a different element and being themselves. They sang a lot of their classics along with Siberia, Undone (LOVED THIS), Drowning, Bigger and a few others. The concert was interspersed with some questions from fans in the audience. One fan asked for them to sing Happy Birthday while another asked them to sing Christmas Time. Hadn’t heard that one in quite a while.

Undone- My favorite of the night (Pardon the shaky camera work)

My favorite question was “If you could be any character, who would you be?” AJ immediately chimed in with ‘Chandler’, which would be the first of many times he referenced Friends throughout the trip.

"Who's Chandler?" Seriously, Howie??

Once the concert was finished, time for the meet and greet! I was so nervous/excited because I had only met Howie previously.

The process was incredibly rushed and at the last moment they decided to add 3 more people to our picture. I know people had it worse than we did, but I was determined to make the best of the moment. So that is exactly what I did. Iwas able to squeeze in next to Nick. I knew he would be a lot harder to track down on the cruise (which turned out to be pretty accurate) so I'm glad I got my picture with him then.

Poor Howie got blocked :(

After the show I was on cloud 9, and I wasn't even on the cruise yet! I didn't think it was possible for the trip to get any better, but it certainly did. I only managed to eke out a few hours of sleep due to all the excitement.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Back Home

Well I just made it home and I'm so exhausted after going off of 3 hours of sleep for the past 5 days. Hope everyone makes it home safely and is returning to warmer weather than I am. Its 21' here! Makes me miss the cruise that much more.

Overall I had a fantastic time and everything far exceeded my expectations. I can't wait to swap stories and pictures with everyone. I'll be sharing both after I catch up on work and sleep.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Bon Voyage

Well guys and gals, the time has come. I’ll be flying to Miami early tomorrow morning and I should be arriving around 11:00 am or so. *crosses fingers that there will be no delays* I was hoping to escape the cold weather for a few days, but apparently there is a cold front coming into Miami, so I may trying to squeeze a few jackets into the already jammed suitcase. It can’t possibly be colder in Miami than where I currently am so as long as it doesn’t rain, I’ll be a happy camper.

For those of you going on the cruise, I wish you all a happy and safe trip! I’d love to meet any and everyone so feel free to say hi if you see me roaming the ship. You can also swing by cabin 2288 (ask for Laura) though you’ll most likely find me running around.

I won’t be updating the blog while on the cruise, but I promise to post some great recaps and pictures after I get back. If anyone wants to share their stories, pictures, experiences or whatever else they can think of from feel free to email me and I’ll be happy to post it when we return.

Boy Voyage!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Miami Acoustic Event Overbooked

A few fans received an unfortunate email yesterday from Ground Ctrl basically saying that their tickets for the acoustic show have been refunded. Apparently the fire marshal changed the code and they had to cancel several orders. Thank goodness I haven’t received any such email, but here is a copy of the email in case you’re interested:

We regretfully write to tell you of an unfortunate situation that has recently been brought to our attention. The venue for the Backstreet Boys Fan Club event taking place in Miami, FL next Wednesday has placed a restriction on the capacity of the event that directly affects the quantity of seats that were originally approved to go on sale. Although it is the very last thing that ground(ctrl) wants to do, and we have fought for all other possible alternatives with the parties involved, we are being forced to refund your ticket to this upcoming event.

Order Number Affected -###### - If you have other orders for this event those will still be valid.

You DO NOT need to do anything as the refund will be issued to you via check. If you would like to check the status please feel free to contact us @ or 1.877.GND.CTRL / Monday - Friday between 9:30 am and 5:30 PM PST. If you would like to be refunded via PAYPAL please call us at 1.877.GND.CTRL and we can process the same day.

Although we know that we cannot replace this exact event, we want to make this up to you as best we can. We would like to offer you a complimentary Bronze VIP package the next time Backstreet Boys come to a venue near you, or a credit toward the purchase of a higher level VIP. All you need to do is contact us at or call us at 877-GND-CTRL Monday - Friday from 9:30am - 5:30pm PST whenever the Boys are coming to your town, and we will gladly accommodate you with a Bronze VIP or VIP credit to your show.

We apologize from our hearts about this unfortunate situation over which we have no control, and we thank you for your continued support and loyalty to the Backstreet Boys and the Backstreet Boys Fan Club.

My heart just sank for anyone who got this email. It’s nice that they are offering a VIP package to rectify the situation. However if you’re traveling from overseas I dont think that would do much good. All I know is that I would not be a happy camper if I received this.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

1 More Week and Sun in the Forecast

We’re actually close enough to the cruise that we can check the extended weather forecast. I asked my brother if I needed a jacket and he just laughed at me. Here's a quick preliminary peak at the weather:

December 8th in Miami: Party Cloudy. Low of 53’ and a high of 69’
December 9th in Miami: Mostly sunny. Low of 57’ and a high of 74’
December 10th in Key West: Mostly sunny. Low of 69’ and a high of 74’
December 11th in Cozumel: Partly cloudy: Low of 64’ and a high of 78’

I can’t believe we’re a week away. I thought the time would never come. I’m just happy that at this point, there is nothing left to do beyond get to Miami and have a great time. I know some people are already on their way but I’ll be heading down early on Wednesday. I can't wait for this vacation to begin!