Saturday, May 28, 2011

What to Expect- Dinner

A Typical Carnival Dining Experience

Dinner was a lot of fun. I should first point out that you have several dining options for dinner. You can eat at the lido buffet, in the main dining room, order room service, or any other place around the ship you choose. I would say the majority of the people eat in the main dining room so that is what I’m mainly going to cover in this post. If you choose the lido buffet to eat, the entire restaurant is usually not open, but there will definitely be a part of it open. Usually they serve very similar to foods as the main dining room, but it is in a much more casual setting.

In the main dining room you can expect a seated 3 course meal that includes an appetizer, main entrée, and dessert. The early seating begins around 6:00pm and the late seating begins around 8:30pm. Dinner typically lasts anywhere from 1.5-2 hours. They typically have 3-6 choices of each course, and they do cater to special dietary restrictions. You just need to inform the maître d beforehand. I’ll most likely do a more in depth post later about the food.

In the dining room, they have tables of all sizes available ranging from 2 seats to around 10 seats. On the past cruise it was open seating, thus you could pick wherever you wanted to sit. I enjoyed sitting at the larger tables so we would have the opportunity to meet new people. This is always a gamble though, but considering we are all Backstreet Boys fans, ideally there should be less of a risk of sitting with a ‘dud’ than on your normal cruise.

Spirit Dining Room

Once you were seated, you can expect a head waiter and assistant waiter to be serving you throughout the evening. Your head waiter will take your order, make recommendations, and serve your food. Your assistant waiter usually does drinks, bread, and clean up. You will also have a few other people stop by the table including a sommelier- who is in the wine steward. You will have a cocktail waitress come around and take any other specialty drink orders. Sometimes the maître d will stop by just to see how things are going. And then you will probably have photographers making their way around the room to take pictures of you individually and/or the table as a group.

They do offer a variety of different foods, which change daily. They also have some basics that will be available to you every night. I would say the quality of the food is good, not great. But obviously that is subjective because apparently Brian hated the food. I didn’t mind it, but I’m also not very picky. Carnival is also known to be the fun ship so as they are serving dessert, the waiters will typically to do some sort of song and dance number. That’s always a lot of fun. Another thing to look out for is formal night. They typically have 1 night on every cruise designated to be formal night. You will see people get a little more dressed up than normal. Speaking of getting dressed up…let me quickly provide a quick run-down of what you should wear in the dining room.

Dinner Attire in the Dining Room

From Carnival's Website:
Cruise Casual Dining Dress Code: Gentlemen - Sport slacks, khakis, jeans (no cut-offs), dress shorts (long), collared sport shirts; Ladies - Casual dresses, casual skirts or pants and blouses, summer dresses, Capri pants, dress shorts, jeans (no cut-offs).
Not permitted in the dining room during the Cruise Casual dinner for ladies and gentlemen: shorts, gym shorts, basketball shorts, beach flip-flops, bathing suit attire, cut-off jeans, sleeveless shirts for men and baseball hats.

Cruise Elegant Dining Dress Code: Gentlemen - Dress slacks, dress shirts. We also suggest a sport coat. If you wish to wear suits and ties or tuxedos, by all means we invite you to do so. Ladies - Cocktail dresses, pantsuits, elegant skirts and blouses; if you‘d like to show off your evening gowns, that's great too!
Not permitted in the dining room during the Cruise Elegant dinner for ladies and gentlemen: shorts, gym shorts, T-shirts, beach flip-flops, bathing suit attire, jeans, cut-off jeans, sleeveless shirts for men, sportswear, and baseball hats.

Not so typical Carnival Dining Experience- Dining with BSB

The big question- do the Backstreet Boys dine with us? On the last cruise, yes they did. I honestly don’t expect that for the 2011 cruise, but maybe we will be pleasantly surprised. Since everyone ate at the same time, the Backstreet Boys were able to join us for dinner during the late seating. They had their own private section in the back of the dining room where they ate with their friends, family, and staff. They would typically show up a few minutes late, but stayed for the majority of dinner. They were known to walk through the dining room past fans to get to and from their table, say if they had to use the bathroom or step out for a moment. Though they seemed to take a backdoor, crew entrance to enter and leave. Security blocked off access to the area where they were seating, but for the most part I thought fans were pretty respectful. I did see a few girls try to sneak in, but not much besides that.

Not all Backstreet Boys were present every night. The number of BSB members present at dinner seemed to dwindle as the cruise progressed. By the last night I believe only Brian and Howie came. From what I understand, Nick and AJ ate upstairs at the buffet. However when Nick and AJ were present, they each got involved during the mini performance at dessert that the Carnival waiters put on for us. That was TONS of fun.

AJ dancing with Jessica at dinner (That's me in the lower left)

Since the Backstreet Boys ate with us and it was open seating, you could obviously guess that getting to the dining room early was important. On the first night, my friends and I lucked out picking a great table not knowing what was in store. As the cruise progressed, fans caught onto the fact that the boys were there and where they were seated. Thus in true Backstreet fashion, it did get rather ugly. Fans were lining up earlier and earlier. I’d say by the last night people started lining up 45 min to 1 hour early. That part did not bother me. But what did bother me was that some fans got very pushy and sneaky. They were cutting in line, pushing, cutting off wheelchairs (which really disgusted me), sneaking in to “ask the maitre d a question” then not get back in line, even sending men from their groups in early to go stake out a table and save seats. I personally got very frustrated by the whole experience. I hope that if the Backstreet Boys do eat with us this year, that Rose Tours brings some order to this process. Whether its assigned seats or having security present in line to monitor people.

Overall, great experience dining with my friends and the Backstreet Boys. Should they choose to eat with us again this year, I would be thrilled, but I’m not counting on it. If they choose not to eat with us, I will look forward to a much more relaxed dining experience.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

NKOTB Cruise 2011

The New Kids got back from their latest cruise a little over a week ago. I know we shouldn't necessarily compare the 2 trips, however the Backstreet Boys did seem to adopt many elements of the previous NKOTB cruises, so I feel there's a good chance we might see some similar activities on our cruise.

Having a full ship and a full deck of people looks insane!

Here is the New Kids 2011 Cruise Itinerary. There's definitely a few activities on here that I would really enjoy of the Backstreet Boys did including acoustic shows, yoga, and red carpet night. The also did Double Dare for their game show. It all sounds like a blast and I can't wait to receive our itinerary this year!

NKOTB Cruise 2011 Itinerary

Day One: Thursday, May 12th, 2011
12:00PM - 2:30PM Arrival Onboard the Carnival Cruise Ship Destiny
3:30PM - 4:30PM Mandatory Emergency Boat Drill
4:45PM Sail Away Party with NKOTB on Lido Deck 9 & SPA Deck 10
6:00PM Doors Open Group B* Palladium Lounge (Event is Assigned Seating)
6:00PM Dinner Group A* (Galaxy Dining Room or Universe Dining Room Lobby Deck 3 & Atlantic Deck 4)
6:30PM Game Show Group B
8:15PM Dinner Group B* (Galaxy Dining Room or Universe Dining Room Lobby Deck 3 & Atlantic Deck 4)
9:30PM Doors Open Group A* Palladium Lounge (Event is Assigned Seating)
10:00PM Game Show Group A
11:30PM Deck Party Groups A&B Lido Deck 9 & SPA Deck 10
12:00AM - 1:00AM
Cocktail Party Open Bar Groups A&B Lido Deck 10
Tonight’s Theme is "Totally 80's Night"

Day Two: Friday, May 13th, 2011
9:30AM Silver Gold & Pink Wristbands meet in Palladium Lounge to board the tenders
10:00AM Orange Wristbands meet in Criterion Lounge
11:30AM - 1:30PM Lunch is served at Half Moon Cay.
You will be able to purchase soda & alcoholic beverages via your sail & sign card. Don't forget to bring your picture ID, Sail & Sign Card & plenty of sun screen. All other wristband colors, times and locations will be announced onboard. You are welcome to eat or wait on Lido until your wristband color is called.
1:30PM Concert on Half Moon Cay Beach
Guests with priority seating, Silver Gold, Pink and Cabana wristbands, will be admitted to a reserved section. All other guests will have standing room general admission.
3:00PM Beach Games - Medals will be awarded
6:00PM Dinner Group A* (Galaxy Dining Room or Universe Dining Room Lobby Deck 3 & Atlantic Deck 4)
7:00PM Last Tender Departs Half Moon Cay
8:15PM Dinner Group B* (Galaxy Dining Room or Universe Dining Room Lobby Deck 3 & Atlantic Deck 4)
10:00PM Blue Bloods Screening with Donnie- Event is General Admission- Lido Deck 9 & SPA Deck 10
11:15PM Deck Party Groups A&B with DJ Lido Deck 9 & Spa Deck 10
Tonight’s Theme is "Pajama Jam & Toga Party"

Day Three: Saturday, May 14th, 2011
9:00AM Nassau
5:15 PM Doors Open for Group B * Palladium Lounge (Event is Assigned Seating)
5:45PM Acoustic Wood & The Joe Show Group B Palladium
6:00PM Dinner Group A* (Galaxy Dining Room or Universe Dining Room Lobby Deck 3 & Atlantic Deck 4)
8:15PM Dinner Group B* (Galaxy Dining Room or Universe Dining Room Lobby Deck 3 & Atlantic Deck 4)
11:00PM Dance for the Cure- Make your $10 donation in the Carnival Formality Shop to participate Lido Deck 9 & SPA Deck 10
12:00AM Deck Party Lido Deck 9 & SPA Deck 10
Tonight’s Theme is "Pink Night"

Day Four: Sunday, May 15th, 2011
6:30AM Must be back onboard Destiny
10:00AM Poker Tournament in the Casino Promenade Deck 5
The 90 Selected Players Names will be posted in the casino and the hospitality desk in the Downbeat Lounge Deck 5.
10:30AM Photo Session Group A (groups of 10) Criterion Lounge
12:00PM Photo Session Group B (groups of 10) Criterion Lounge
3:30PM Stretchify with Jordan Knight- Lido Deck 9 & SPA Deck 10
This Event is General Admission- Bring your yoga mat from home
3:30PM DDub Back Rub- Criterion Lounge Promenade Deck 5
This Event is General Admission- Space is limited
5:00PM NKOTB*I*N*G*O- Lido Deck 9 & SPA Deck 10
This Event is General Admission
6:00PM Dinner Group A* (Galaxy Dining Room or Universe Dining Room Lobby Deck 3 & Atlantic Deck 4)
7:45PM Doors Open Group A * Palladium Lounge (Event is Assigned Seating)
8:15PM Acoustic Wood & The Joe Show Group A Palladium
8:15PM Dinner Group B* (Galaxy Dining Room or Universe Dining Room Lobby Deck 3 & Atlantic Deck 4)
11:00PM Poker Tournament Final Table in the Casino with Donnie Wahlberg
11:00PM Deck Party Groups A&B with DJ
Tonight’s Theme is "RED CARPET"

Day Five: Monday, May 16th, 2011
Day of Debarkation
8:00AM Arrive at Miami Cruise Terminal
Additional Information
The NKOTB Concert will be held on Half Moon Cay. All guests with preferred seating will be admitted into a reserved section. Only guests with Silver, Gold, Pink and cabana wristbands will be admitted to this section. Any guest that attempts to enter the reserved section without a proper wristband will be removed. All other guests will have general admission for the show. Please respect your fellow guests during the concert. The concert is standing only. VIDEO IS NOT PERMITTED DURING THE CONCERT! There will be limited shade during the concert. Please remember sunscreen, hats and drink plenty of water.

Stretchify with Jordan Knight
If you would like to participate with Jordan, please bring your yoga mat from home.

Guests with Early Dining are in Group A. (Galaxy Dining Room or Universe Dining Room Lobby Deck 3 & Atlantic Deck 4)

Guests with Late Dining are in Group B. (Galaxy Dining Room or Universe Dining Room Lobby Deck 3 & Atlantic Deck 4)

You will receive your dining room assignment at check in. Seating in the dining rooms is open. Please arrive at assigned dining room with your party, the Maitre D’ will seat you. Other options for dinner are 24 hour room service, dinner buffet on Lido Deck or the 24 hour Pizzeria.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Aren’t they Grandparents Yet?

Sorry for bad quality pic but you get the idea

Perhaps my title has confused you, but if you’re anything like me you are probably just as excited about the Backstreet Boy cruise as I am. And assuming you are just as excited as me, I’m sure you have told many people about it. Well, I have heard every reaction under the sun, both positive and negative about my trip so I thought I'd share some of the more memorable reactions. My favorite is when I told my dad the first time around and he responded with “Aren’t they grandparents yet?” One of my coworkers evoked a similar response with “Aren’t they as old as dirt?” I always calmly reply back with a gentle “No, they are all in their 30s” I have come to expect these responses, but I don’t let it bother me one bit.

I think the most popular response I get is “Are they still around?” Again, I have to point out that while they are one member down, they are still around putting out albums and touring around the world. I also tell these people that they are about to start a massive tour with New Kids on the Block. They are very much still around! There’s another whole group of people I tell who just can’t fathom I’d spend that much money on a essentially a 3 day cruise. My boyfriend falls into this category. He has been very supportive of all my Backstreet antics. Sometimes I don’t know how he puts up with it all. So while he does encourage me to go on these trips and have a good time, he just cant get past the cost. I think this is what shocks most everyone I tell. But then again, sometimes it shocks me as well.

One response I get quite often is people just laugh at me, probably because they don’t know what else to say. I used to be more embarrassed about being a Backstreet Boy fan, especially when I was younger and still in school. But I’m at the point where I don’t care. Let people laugh. When I tell people who obviously don’t get why on earth I would go on a Backstreet Boy cruise, I turn it around on them. I say “Well, I know you are passionate about [insert what that person is passionate about]. I bet if there was a theme cruise for that, you would go.” This usually shuts most people up because it gets them excited about the idea of their own themed cruise. Whether its sports, another musician, a TV show, or even a famous clothes designer most everyone has SOMETHING they are passionate about. I find this tactic helps put it into perspective for most people and helps them relate to how excited I am.

More often than not, I get the negative responses. However I do occasionally get people who are really excited for me and even a smaller group who wish they could come. It is when I point out the price tag that they quickly back down so I have yet to convince anyone to actually go. I think a lot of people still have fond memories of I Want it That Way and All I Have to Give, so they do get really excited when I tell them about the trip. For those who will listen, I love sharing all the great experiences I had last time around. I’m very lucky that my boss is in this group of people. I was hesitant on coughing up the money the first time around and she really encouraged me to go because she knew it would be such a good opportunity and memorable experience (which it was!)

So, what sort of reactions do you get when you tell people about the cruise?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I Have an Idea

The New kids just got back from their cruise and I was reviewing their itinerary. I noticed that many of the members did their own events like Donnie for example did a poker tournament. 90 players were selected and the winner got to play Donnie at midnight.

But this got me thinking. I feel like it would be a good idea to have each of the Backstreet Boys host their own event. Last year all of the official events included all 4 members. I’m not suggesting we take away those group events, but add these individual events on top of it. So it would add 4 more things for us to do, but it would require significantly less time for the guys than having them all doing 4 more events. So it’s really a win/win. Another approach is if all the guys hosted their own event at the same time, and then we could pick which one we wanted to go to. Or maybe it would have to be assigned to avoid chaos. But regardless, I feel like it would give you the opportunity to spend some time with your favorite Backstreet Boy in a more intimate setting since theoretically it would only be a quarter of the ship instead of the usual half. I know I’m rambling here, but hopefully this makes sense to someone other than myself.

So anyway, then I got thinking some more. What would each BSB do as their event? I thought the poker tournament would be appropriate for AJ. He seemed to spend quite a bit of time at the casino last year playing black jack. He closed that casino down at 4am. I'm kind of surprised they didn’t keep it open later for him. I feel like Brian could do a similar type of tournament for Basketball since he loves it so much and was even playing on the ship last year with his son. If he did this, I’d better hit the court and start practicing now. I can’t score a basket to save my life. Maybe Howie could teach us some salsa dancing. Help us learn some of those infamous hip moves. Only problem with this is that I suspect there won’t be too many men for us to have as dance partners. Heck, I’d enjoy for any of them to do a dance class. Who better to teach us classic BSB dance moves than BSB themselves!

Meanwhile Nick could do a health seminar or something. Teach us what he does to stay healthy. I would be very interested to see what Nick has to say on this topic. I have trouble maintaining a healthy lifestyle and I have a relatively normal 9-5 job. I don’t know how he does it on tour being away from home all the time. I would actually be really interested to hear from their manager, Jen, as well. In general I like those behind the scenes stories. I’m sure she does a ton of stuff for the group that we don’t even realize is going on and I think she’d have a really unique perspective on everything. So not that I would choose Jen over a Backstreet Boy…but you know what I mean. I just feel like the possibilities are endless on what the guys could come up with for their individual events.

So these are the types of things I think about on my commute to and from work... Can you come up with any other fun solo events?

Now if only I worked for Rose Tours and could actually make this happen…

Saturday, May 14, 2011

What to Expect- Photo Shoot

I thought it would be a good idea, especially for those new cruisers, to do a series on 'what to expect' for each aspect of the cruise.

So I'm going to start out with the photo shoot because I get really excited thinking about meeting the Backstreet Boys, and you should too! I figure it would be slightly more fun that starting with something like debarkation. I don't even want to think about that because its too depressing.

Okay lets dive right in. Last year they split us up in 2 groups for the photo sessions, and your group was determined by the color of your wristbands. The wristbands were given to you at the time of check in, and they also determined your seating in the main lounge. It's tough to say if that will change this year or not since it will be a full charter. If we want to base it on how New Kids' worked- they also had 2 photo sessions even with the full charter. One for each group. Thus I imagine they'll stick with 2 groups so as not to over-complicate things.

Last year they were supposed to have the first session for black and blue wristbands, and the other session for all other colors. This initially generated some panic because people had already figured out their groups for the pictures, but their friends may have had different color wristbands. Not to worry though. Rose Tours was incredibly flexible switching the time of your photo session, as long as you had your group ready.

The photos were with the 4 Backstreet Boys (obviously) and 8 fans. Lets pray they don't up that number this year. I felt like the constant buzz around the ship was who you were taking your picture with and which BSB you wanted to stand next to. In the end, Im happy that my group turned out perfectly. Everyone was able to stand next to who they wanted. If you don't have a group, or even only have a partial group, Rose Tours was available to assist. As the line of people grew and grew, you would see Rose Tours staff walking through making sure you had a group of 8. If you didn't, they would pluck you out of line and yell for other groups who needed "x" number of people, so as to match you up. So if you care about which BSB you stand next to, I'd recommend going in prepared.

People were lined up pretty early to get their picture. I didn't stress too much about this because I knew I was guaranteed a picture and I didn't want to waste my time in line. It didn't matter to me if I was first or last. The line was crazy long. It started on one end of the ship and went pretty much straight to the other end. Once the doors opened, the line moved very quickly. This is one event that I thought went very smoothly, unlike the acoustic show pictures. Once you approached the door, there was a security guard punching holes in your wristband, on the exact same spot for every person. I thought this was a good way to do it. Otherwise my mind was wandering.what if I just rotate my wristband, or perhaps hide it all together to see if I could sneak in another picture. Not that I would actually do this.but I'm sure Im not the only one who thought that way. I guess more than anything, it reassured me that other people weren't taking advantage of the system by getting multiple pictures.

People Waiting in Line
The line continued...

Anyway, once you're in the door, the line continued to snake around the room so you could see the boys while you waited those last 5 minutes. This allowed me some extra time to calm myself down until we made it up to the front. The staff very clearly indicated that no hugs were allowed, just handshakes. Some girls would still sneak in their hugs, but I respected the rules because I know they had a lot of pictures to take. I hope they still allow us to do handshakes this year. One more thing- They also had a few of the Backstreet Boys kneeling in front, so you just have to make sure that no one is standing in front of you blocking your picture. On the flip side, if you're in front, try to be respectful of those behind you. I definitely saw a few ruined pictures that way. And unfortunately the photographer will not give you a second picture, you only get one shot.

Typical photo shoot.

Once our group finally made our way to the front, it was really all a blur. You really only had like 5 seconds with each BSB. Just enough time for your quick handshake and maybe a few words. Then you quickly have to go stand next to the Backstreet Boy you wanted to stand next to. I just remember so much going through my head at that moment.. "OMG I'm meeting the Backstreet Boys!" "Oh geez, I hope my hand isn't too sweaty as I go to shake their hands" "Don't trip or say anything too stupid" "Make sure I say everything I planned on saying" "Now I changed my mind and want to stand next to Nick" "No, no, I'm standing next to AJ. The other girls would kill me if I changed my mind now" "Oh crap, I need to go run to AJ before they take this picture" "Does my hair look okay?" "I hope I don't seem as nervous as I feel on the inside" "Well, maybe now I want to stand next to Howie" "Oh my gosh, Im standing next to AJ" "Oh no! Brian is in front of us blocking us in the picture" "I can't push Brian out of the way, what do I do?!" "Calm down, AJ is still standing next to me, does it even matter if the picture doesn't come out perfectly?" "Yes, yes it does! I need to get Brian to move!" "Okay good, he finally moved" "Photographer is counting down. Alright, lets make sure I don't screw this picture up" "Make sure not to blink and make sure I'm smiling nice and big" "What, we're done already?" "I don't want to go!" "Let's hope the picture turned out okay" "Phew!"

My photo session and that's me in the back next to AJ!

Oh gosh, I get all anxious just reliving that moment. Hopefully this year will go a bit smoother for me. So after the picture is taken, you are quickly directed out of the room and just left to take it all in.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Hint on Theme Night

Today we got an email which gave a hint as to one of our possible deck party themes...

Oh, and by the way, here's a little hint regarding one of the deck are you going to miss this?:

"White Clothes"

My guess is that we will have a 'white night' similar to what the New Kids did on their cruise. I think that would be fun! It seems like white night is the most obvious but I suppose it could also be a Millennium theme or maybe a theme based on one of the songs from Millennium?

So the big question- do I go get a new white dress now with the hopes that it will be a white night, or should I be patient and wait? I know- I'll go get a dress now and leave the tags on ;)

Does anyone have any other speculations on what it could be?

Monday, May 9, 2011

8 Things I Plan on Doing the Same for Cruise 2011

So I shared with you all what I plan on doing differently for the next cruise, so I figured I’d also share what I want to make sure I do again.

  1. Try new foods: This isn’t exactly Backstreet Boy related, but last cruise I tried new foods that I wouldn’t normally otherwise try. After all, its free, so if you don’t like it you’re not out the money. Last year I tried some new stuff which I really enjoyed and I want to make sure I do that again.
  2. Get to Miami early: It’s just too stressful traveling the morning of the cruise. Any number of things could happen like the random freak airport fire in Miami. It’s just not worth it, especially in December one would expect potential weather delays. You never know what will happen so I plan on getting there early.
  3. Not a lot of alcohol: I did have a few drinks on the last cruise (mainly when they were free) But I found I had an absolutely amazing time without drinking. I didn’t need it and it saved me a bunch of money and a hangover the next morning. So, I don’t think I’ll be drinking a lot on the 2011 cruise either.
  4. Take advantage of the Fan Club: I met so many great people on the BSB fan club before the cruise, that I already recognized so many faces by the time I stepped on the ship. I went up to people to say hi (although some I accidentally got wrong…oops lol) and I had people come up to me to say hi. I will definitely be doing that again.
  5. Look Presentable: At all times! Maybe I wasn’t great about this last time, but considering how I normally look on vacation I was doing pretty well. You never know when you may run into a Backstreet Boy and if they are willing to take pictures. I happened to luck out that Brian was posing with fans right when we came on board after lunch, before we even had time to get to our cabin. Good thing I wasn’t wearing my usual sweats.
  6. No Cell Phone: As soon as we sailed away from Miami I turned my phone off and didn’t really turn it back on until we arrived back in Miami. It was so nice not to have to check in with work and the rest of the outside world. I also didn’t get slammed with any crazy roaming charges. But what I may do is get a larger text plan for that month. I was texting everyone like crazy those days leading up to the cruise and those first few hours on the ship. Mainly because I was in BSB overload.
  7. Decorate my Door: I had so much fun last time decorating the door and I felt like I came up with a pretty unique idea. It definitely felt nice to have people acknowledge my work, even though the Backstreet Boys themselves didn’t. Plus I felt like this was a great way to meet your neighbors because people were decorating those doors all around the same time.
  8. Plan Outfits Ahead of Time: Once we got the itinerary, it was very easy to see what you would be doing at each point during the day so I could determine what I wanted to wear and when I would change. I found this to be very helpful because it helped me pack exactly what I needed- no more no less. I also didn't waste time on the cruise pouring through all of my clothes deciding what to wear for any given event because I had already tried on my clothes and knew ahead of time what I was wearing. It worked out very well for me last time and its one less thing to stress about while on board.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


The first cruise had tons of great merchandise, rather overpriced, but what else would you expect when it comes to BSB? I spent $130 on merch, only leaving with 3 items. I bought the This is Us hoody (since I regretted not getting it on tour) a cruise t-shirt and the towel. Side note- I mistakenly told my boyfriend how much I spent on my hoody, and he will now tease me every time I wear it to be careful not to ruin my ‘super expensive sweatshirt.’
When it comes to merchandise, there’s only a few things you need to be aware of. I felt that the hours of the store were very limited, but this could have been a limitation of the half charter. Due to that, the lines were almost always very long. They had everything spread out in the library, which was a tiny room that could accommodate around 10 people comfortably. The problem is that you are browsing and potentially trying on clothes, so the line moves rather slowly.

However its worth going earlier on in the cruise and waiting the extra time in line because you will have a greater selection in terms of items and sizes of clothing. I found that select items had run out by the end of the cruise, most notably the tote bag. Most of the shirts sizes ran from small to XL, but the white cruise t-shirt ran to XXL. So if you are in the market for a size that’s more uncommon, definitely make sure you get your shopping done early in the cruise.

While I don't have any insight into what will be available on the 2011 cruise, in case you were wondering here is what they had available on the 2010 cruise and the associated costs:

White T-Shirt: $35
Light blue Baby doll T-Shirt: $40
Tank top with picture of sunset: $35
White Cruise Hoody with the burnout material: $50
Gray Hoody (Same as on This is Us tour): $65
Gray cruise Hoody: $65
Beach Towel: $30
Tote Bag: $15
Shot glass: $12
Photo album: $20
White Baby Doll T-Shirt ‘Straight Through My Heart’: $35
Silver Baby Doll T-Shirt ‘This is Us’: $35
Black Baby Doll T-Shirt with a bulls eye: $35
Pink Tank Top: $35
Purple Baby Doll T-Shirt: $35
Hat: $35
Cup: $10
Keychain from This is Us: $5
Glossy 8x10 in color: $5
Glossy 8x10 in black and white: $5
Program from This is Us: $20
Laminate: $15
Dog Tag with ‘Soldier Down’: $15
Stickers: $5
Pack of 6 buttons: $10
This is Us CD: $20
Millennium Platinum Frame: $325
Black & Blue Platinum Frame: $325
BSB Cruise Towel

BSB Cruise T-shirt

This is Us Hoody (My fave!)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Pre Cruise Hotel 2011

I’m rather delinquent on posting this but Rose Tours announced not too long ago that they negotiated a rate of $189 at the Intercontinental Hotel for the night of December 1st. You can check out more information about the cruise special rate here.

InterContinental Hotel

Personally I don’t think that’s a very good rate. Last year I stayed at the Holiday Inn, which was a great location near the port and a lot cheaper. Plus a lot of fans were there and I think there is something to be said for staying where a lot of other fans are staying, made me feel safer. Another large group of people stayed at the Marriott Biscayne Bay, since that is where Rose Tours negotiated the rate last time. However without a negotiated rate, that particular Marriott will be a bit more pricy this year at $229 a night. I enjoyed staying at the Holiday Inn and I’d recommend it for anyone looking for a cheap, but nice hotel near the port.

For some of you first time cruisers, you be wondering why you want to get a hotel at all and not fly in the morning of the cruise. Yes, you can fly in the morning of the cruise if you wish. I’ve done it before with no problems, but for this particular cruise I did not want to take any chances with weather delays or missing a plane for whatever reason. It will be winter in the US so you never know if a storm might hit. My mom took a cruise a few weeks ago and her flight got cancelled due to a freak fire accident at Miami airport. So you just never know what might come up, so I would recommend arriving the night before to be on the safe side. Plus the Backstreet Boys have hinted that they may do something the night before in Miami, in which case you would definitely need a place to stay that night.

I was debating whether or not I should create a nice spreadsheet for you all with all the hotel options, but there are over 200 hotels near the Port of Miami so I decided I should probably not waste my efforts. Plus some of you may not want to stay in Miami and some of you may be looking at hostels. So instead I’ll just give a high level overview on my top hotel choices. I’ve done some research and found that hotels range from $59/night-$1,733/night near the port. Those prices range from a random motel to the Ritz. I would say a good rate would be between $120-$150, to make sure you don’t end up in a complete dump. Based on what fans are saying in the fanclub, the majority of people seem to be staying at the Holiday Inn this year. The current rate for the Holiday Inn Port of Miami is $136/night so its definitely a great deal for what you get. I would also recommend splitting the hotel with multiple people to cut costs. That is what I did last year, and it turned out not only to save me money, but I met 3 wonderful girls that I continue to talk to on a daily basis.

As for me, I plan on staying at the Courtyard Miami Downtown with several other ladies I met last year. I want to stay at a Marriott because I have rewards points to use towards the room, which will cut costs, and it looks like a decent hotel near the port. We just need to get our act together and book the room soon!