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.
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.
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!"
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.