Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cruising with AJ

 AJ at the beach party
Part 3 of my miniseries on cruising with the Backstreet Boys. Time for AJ! I mean, what’s not to love about AJ? This sensitive “bad boy” stole quite a special place in my heart after last year’s cruise.

AJ during the She's a Dream Dating Game

Favorite AJ Moment #1:

Most of the Backstreet Boys were seen in the casino at the tables, but normally you could walk by them without even noticing they were there. After all, they are all just regular people like you and me so they do blend in to the crowd. However the one exception to this was AJ. People 3 decks below him would know where he is. He has such a unmissable presence. That's why on the third night after karaoke, I very quickly spotted AJ in the casino. When the other Backstreet Boys were playing, the most I did was steal a quick look and continue on through. However when AJ was playing that was nearly impossible to do. He was probably only sitting down 10% of the time because he was so animated telling stories, interacting with the fans, and just having a good time. It was almost as if he was inviting you to come join him because his vibe was just so friendly and warm. He is the only Backstreet Boy I really got that feeling from which is why I decided to stick around and just watch him play poker. There were maybe 20 fans around the table, so it was just a really neat experience. I wouldn't classify it as "meeting AJ", it was more like I was hanging out with him as a friend. So even though I didn't work up enough courage to actually say anything to him, I still rank this as one of my top moments of the trip.

Favorite AJ Moment #2:

Another instance where I would really say I was more so hanging out with AJ opposed to just running into a celebrity was in the club that very same evening. After the casino was closed, AJ moved the party into the club. By this time it was 4am, so while there were still a good number of people awake, there were also a lot that had retired for the evening. At first AJ stuck to the VIP area, but it didn’t take too long for him to come join us on the dance floor. That's right- no stage acting as a barrier, no ropes or barricades to keep you back, and even no security to push you away. There was nothing between you and AJ, except for maybe a bunch of other girls trying to dance with him as well. I loved this moment because it truly felt like I was clubbing with AJ.

AJ in the Club

Favorite AJ Moment #3:

One of my favorite AJ memories from the cruise occurred towards the end of International Luv night. The crowd had tapered off slightly as the night progressed, but I was on an adrenaline high and wasn't about to go to bed as long as the Backstreet Boys were still on that deck. At one point AJ decided to come down to the pool deck, but unfortunately he was on the other side from where I was standing. I grabbed my friend Anne Marie and we bolted to the other side of the deck to get a good view of him on the bar. We somehow ended up with a great spot and closed out the evening just listening to him ham it up with his microphone. He just made silly banter with the crowd- asking us questions like "Who went on the New Kids cruise?" and "Who thinks the Backstreet cruise is better?" Even though I didn’t go on the New Kids cruise, I still find myself screaming at an incredibly high decibel.

AJ hamming it up with the mic

Other AJ Highlights

And a few other awesome AJ moments from cruise 2010 that you other cruisers may remember:

  • AJ making a valiant effort to knock on cabin doors in the middle of the night.
  • AJ and his friend Mark singing Like a Virgin:

    Gotta Love AJ Singing Madonna
  • AJ wearing a kilt for international luv night
  • When he danced with my friend, Jessica, during dinner one evening.

Favorite AJ Quotes
  • “I would love to go to Greece….We should go down there and put on a concert by the Colosseum”
  •  “Sorry, they gave me a mic, what do you expect?”
  •  “Is anyone else feeling nauseous right now? Im sitting here trying to listen to you talk. Just go straight man! Straight! Who’s driving the boat?”

What I’m looking forward to most from AJ on cruise 2011?

Everything! Most of my favorite moments from cruise 2010 involve AJ in some way. I literally can’t wait to see what he’s going to come up with for cruise 2011 because I don’t think I can even fantasize the amazing moments that are sure to come. I really hope he decides to go around and knock on doors again, but I could see him doing something even more special. Ironically he is the only Backstreet Boy I didn’t really run into in the elevator, at the buffet, or around the hallways. I hope that changes this time around.

I want lots more of this on cruise 2011!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Why wait until December for the Fun to Begin?

While we are getting closer and closer to the time when we sail off into the sunset with the Backstreet Boys, December still feels like forever away. Last year I had the opportunity to do a pre-cruise ‘Backstreet weekend’ with several girls not too far from me. 6 of us set out for Atlantic City for a fun weekend full of gambling, eating, hanging out at the pool and more. We had so much fun chatting about the boys, the cruise, and just getting to know each other. This was such a great way to meet new friends and get a 'Backstreet fix' at the same time.

2010 Pre-Cruise Bash in Atlantic City

I would encourage everyone to reach out to try and find other cruisers nearby and plan your own backstreet get together. Even if it’s just meeting up for a cup of coffee, its so nice to chat with other people who are just as excited as you are about the cruise.

Last weekend I got together with a bunch of other friends who are going on the upcoming cruise and we had our very own Backstreet weekend.  We decided we were already in BSB withdrawal after the end of the NKOTBSB tour, so we planned a little beach get away. Really, the next best thing to being on the beach with the Backstreet Boys is hanging out at the beach with great friends listening to the Backstreet Boys. So we whipped out the old VHS tapes, dusted off the VCR, and even dug up the Backstreet Board game. I didn't think I'd remember a lot, but I ended up winning somehow.

The whole weekend was so nostalgic, reminded me of my backstreet sleepovers when I was in middle school. We stayed up until 3am watching classics such as Around the World, Backstreet All Access and other gems such as the Disney special and the Homecoming concert. Sadly I can still recite these videos word for word with about 75% accuracy. It’s amazing what sort of useless Backstreet knowledge I still have tucked away up there.

2011 Pre-Cruise Bash at the Beach
Yes, we really did play the Backstreet Board Game

I'm still hoping to do another pre-cruise extravaganza sometime in the October time frame. If you happen to be in the Washington, DC area let me know!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cruising Without BSB

Yeah, I know, where's the fun in a cruise without the Backstreet Boys? Anything else by comparison seems so dull. But I have to admit, I came pretty close to booking the New Kids on the Block cruise last week. If you told me a year ago that I would have been scrambling trying to get some money together to fund a NK cruise, I would've told you you're crazy. In fact, even 4 months ago I would've told you you're crazy. But after the NKOTBSB tour, I found myself becoming quite a fan of the New Kids. Their songs are just so catchy! It took about a month to get Dirty Dancing unstuck from my head.

Thus leading me to seriously contemplating spending $1000+ to go on their cruise next June. While my recent fixation for the New Kids doesn't even come close to my love for the Backstreet Boys, I thought I would still have a great time going to their events, deck parties, concerts, and meeting new friends. Plus my whole inspiration for this blog came largely in part from Katie's NKOTB Cruise Blog. I learned so much from her about theme cruising, and in turn got to know the New Kids a lot better in the process. In fact, I would probably be a lot more relaxed on a NK cruise since I wouldn't be constantly worried about running into Howie, Brian, Nick or AJ.

In the end I decided not to book it (at least for now). Though if it was just a smidge cheaper, I'd probably be one of the lucky owners of an interior cabin on deck 1 of the NKOTB cruise. But this got me thinking...what other themed cruises would I consider doing if money wasn't an issue?

I am a big TV watcher. I would probably consider going on a theme cruise if one of of my favorite shows did one. For example I would love to do a cruise for Friends or How I Met Your Mother. Heck, maybe I'd run into AJ on the Friends cruise ;) And I love How I Met Your Mother! They make several references to the Backstreet Boys throughout the series as well which just makes it all the more funny. Here is one my favorite scenes where one of the main characters gets his hair done before his wedding:

"...The Good Backstreet Boys?"

Another theme cruise I want to try that actually kind of exists is a Biggest Loser Cruise. It seems like an oxymoron to have a weight loss themed cruise, but nonetheless, I think it would be a really positive and beneficial experience. Plus I would love to meet Bob, one of the trainers from the show.

So what other theme cruises would you consider doing if money wasn't an issue?

PS- This is very loosely related, but my friend Cory passed along an NKOTB Cruise blog entry about booking the cruise that I found absolutely hilarious and completely relatable. Definitely worth a read if you have some extra time.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Countdown is On

Well cruisers, we are officially at the 100 day mark. Pop open the champagne because these last few months are going to fly by!

The Countdown is On

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Return of Sphynkter

First of all, I apologize I couldn’t get to this post sooner; I was out of town this weekend. Second, congratulations to Marjorie Shipman for winning the free cruise giveaway contest through the Fan Club. If you’re out there reading this blog, I hope you have a fantastic time! Third, if you are a member of the fan club, the guys announced yet another cruise giveaway twitter contest. It really seems like they are having trouble filling the boat up this year. Fourth and most importantly, themes were announced last Friday!! As a matter of fact, I was in the car driving with my dad when my phone started blowing up with emails so I knew we had to have finally gotten the email about the themes. I made my dad read the email to me while I was driving. I got a laugh out of him trying to pronounce Sphynkter and then another laugh when I tried to explain to him what that was. So here are the 2011 cruise themes:

1. Sphynkter 80s Night!
WE JUST WANT YOU TO KNOW that we can't wait to see your sexy booties done up 80s style. Rock that big hair, neon colors, leg warmers, lace gloves, etc and look out because there may be a special appearance by none other then everyone's favorite band, Sphynkter!

2. PDA Pajama Jam (PDAPJJ)
Intimate scenes fresh from my all running around a boat in our PJs! Let's get cozy and party it up sleepover style. Who wants to pillow fight with us?

3. The Perfect Fan Prom Night
Was your prom BLAH? Well that's sure going to change! Join us for our first ever BSB Prom Night! Get ready to relive that magical night together aboard the Imagination. Each King, that's us, will be crowning our PERFECT FAN or Prom Queen. Come ready for some FUN and lots of memories!
I’m thrilled they announced the themes so early this year, giving us ample of time for shopping. I have to admit, I’m neither overly excited nor upset with any of the themes. I’m only slightly disappointed that these themes are ones that the New Kids used for their cruises in the past, making them slightly less original and unique to BSB. But that is really only a minor complaint.

For 80’s night, I predict the theme of the evening to be fun. Lots of fun, bright clothes with high energy music. But my first reaction to this theme was that I think it made slightly more sense for the New Kids cruise as opposed to ours, since they were popular in the 80s and meanwhile I was only 4 years old in the 80s. So I will definitely have to do some shopping for this night. Thus far I'm well on my way with lace glove and some scrunchies.


For the PDA Pajama Jam, I envision the theme of the evening to be half fun, half sexy. I assume half of the fans will take a more conservative/cute approach- wearing actual pajamas. Meanwhile the other half will opt for the sexier approach, wearing lingerie type ensembles. I think I’m going to fall somewhere in the middle, leaning more towards the cute approach. I’m well aware no one wants to see me in some skimpy lacy outfit. Plus, I just don’t think the sexy approach is practical. It’s going to be cold and windy so I wouldn’t want to give everyone a show if the wind lifts up my dress. Plus, I don’t want to worry about falling out of my top while partying with the Backstreet Boys. I already have enough to stress about.

Prom night should be a fun evening as well. This will be the classy evening of the cruise and I’m always pumped for the dress to impress night. I don't have fantastic memories of my prom, but hopefully the Backstreet Boys will make this one better. Heck, it shouldn't be too hard to top mine. My biggest challenge here is to find a dress that is budget friendly, will travel easily, wont wrinkle, doesn’t take up too much space in the suitcase, is comfortable, sexy, but not too sexy, and is also appropriate for a Caribbean cruise deck party. Hopefully this dress exists and the ideal dress would be one I could wear again in the future. All I know is I don’t want a typical ball gown type dress because it’s just not practical.

My favorite part of the themes being announced is actually not to think about what I am going to wear, but what the Backstreet Boys are going to wear. It sounds as if for 80’s night they will be appearing as Sphynkter. This should be a fun evening full of laughs and I will definitely have my camera ready. I don’t think there will be too many surprises for prom night. I assume the boys will all be wearing a tux, unless AJ wants to be more of a rebel and wear one of those T-shirt tuxedos. And we all know Nick wearing anything beyond a Tampa Bay Bucs T-Shirt is him getting dressed up. So as a Nick girl, the thought of him actually putting on a suit is super exciting. I would just die if I could get a picture with him all dapper and dressed up.

The evening that is the most of a wildcard in my mind is the PDA pajama jam. A few of my friends and I were hypothesizing about what each guy would wear because I think each one is going to take a wildly different approach to the night. We thought Howie would be in some sort of classy silk robe; Brian in some goofy outfit like footie pajamas with funny slippers that make noises every time you take a step; AJ in some sort of revealing leopard print item; and we had trouble coming up with Nick’s outfit. I guess we'll just have to wait and see on that one.

And if the themes being announced wasn’t a big enough treat, ground control also ended their newsletter with this….
We are working on a pre-cruise bash the night of Thursday, December 1st in Miami.
Stay tuned for more details!
Just so much excitement to absorb in one email! I really hope by "bash" they mean concert and not some sort of after party. But you can be sure that no matter what it is, I will be there.

PS- Not sure what happened to our previous hint of 'white night' from the millennium album cover. I think its a stretch to say that alluded to the 'perfect fan prom night'. But truthfully I'm happier with these themes than 'white night'. White is not a good color on me.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Getting Front Row

Believe it or not, there are actually a few ways to get front row seats to the events in the main theater. None of which are very easy to get, but I wanted to share them with you so you have a heads up.
  1. Book the Owner’s Suite.

  2. Win the door decorating contest will also get you front row seats to the concert.

  3. They do a random drawing before every event to do a seat upgrade to front row for one lucky fan. But that was just for the one specific event you get called for, not for all subsequent events.

  4. Last year, every cruiser received a goody bag with little give-aways inside. One lucky fan got a golden rubber ducky and the prize was front row.
Seeing as how I cant afford option 1 and I’m horribly unlucky, I’m shooting for option number 2! I know the competition will be even tougher this time around but I’m hopeful. *Fingers crossed*

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Lose it All Challenge Part 2

It has been 15 weeks since I started the Lose it All Challenge. I wanted to give everyone a quick update on where I stand as well as provide the next set of challenges. Since I last posted this entry, we had a few more girls join the competition so there are currently 4 of us competing to lose it all before the cruise. Unfortunately though, I am not doing very well. In fact, I’m losing. Yes, its quite pathetic I’m losing at my own competition. But, don't worry, that's all part of my strategy, I'm going to step it up this second half!

Here are the rest of the challenges that will take us right up to the cruise:

Week 16: Create a new Backstreet Boy play list at least 10 songs long and go workout to it. I’ll tell you that ‘Burning Up’ will be #1 on my playlist!

Week 17: Honor Nick week! Nick has stated in recent interviews that he is “85% vegetarian.” While I’m not sure how he came up with 85%, being vegetarian certainly has health benefits. This week’s challenge is to go vegetarian for 1 day, or at the very least 1 meal.

Week 18: One of the best motivators for working out is to have a friend to go with. Grab one of your “backstreet friends” and go for a walk together. You can chat about BSB the whole time and will burn calories without it even feeling like exercise. If you don’t have a backstreet friend nearby, shoot me an email and we can be virtual walk buddies for the week :)

Week 19: Nick has said his favorite nutrition books are The All-Pro Diet and The China Study. Pick up one of these books at your local library or another nutrition book that catches your eye in order to learn something new or find some new motivation.

Week 20: Honor Howie week! Lets honor Howie’s Irish half and create a healthy Irish dish this week.

Week 21: Did you know shopping burns 75-100 calories an hour? We’re going to kill 2 birds with 1 stone this week. Go shopping for a new cruise outfit and lose weight while doing so! Win, win. Just don’t stray towards that food court. 

Week 22: Cruise Prep Challenge: In preparation for all the good, tempting food that will be available on the cruise, this week is all about only eating when you're truly hungry. So no mindless snacking this week. Here's a trick I heard: Ask yourself, "Am I hungry enough to eat an apple?" If the answer is no, you probably aren't that hungry.

Week 23: 10,000 Promises is your inspiration for this week because we’re going to work out for 10,000 seconds! Don’t worry, its not as bad as it sounds. That equates to 2.7 hours of any workout of your choice.

Week 24: Honor Brian week! Brian said one of his favorite home cooked meals is “baked chicken breast with rice with a cream of mushroom sauce and steamed carrots and green beans” This sounds nice and healthy so take some inspiration from Brian and recreate this for him!

Week 25: You’ve heard of a drinking game?  Well, I’m taking that same concept but challenging you to a Backstreet Workout game. Put in the cruise DVD (or any other BSB video) and you have to do 20 jumping jacks every time Brian cracks a joke, 10 pushups anytime you see AJ ham it up with a mic, 10 crunches anytime you see Howie wink, and 10 lunges anytime you see Nick without a shirt. Also, run in place anytime you hear a song from the This is Us album. Feel free to create your own rules as needed.

Week 26: Get those creative juices flowing again and this time come up with a healthy dish inspired by the album “Black & Blue”

Week 27:  Honor AJ week! Time to switch it up a bit an do some weight training but you’re going to do it while listening to AJ’s album ‘Have it All’

Week 28: Cruise Prep Challenge: We've got to get ready for all those buffets that are available on the cruise so your challenge is to work on portion control. Pay attention to the servings sizes of food and don't overeat. I like to use smaller plates to help keep myself in check.

Week 29: It's been a little while since NKOTBSB has been on tour, so lets have the good 'memories come flooding back' by learning that dance routine for Don't Turn out the Lights and burn some calories in the process.

Week 30: Congratulations, hopefully by now you did 'Lose it All' or are well on your way to losing it all. With the cruise 1 week away, time to take a break, celebrate your successes, and pack!

Good luck everyone!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What to Expect- Cabins

A cruise cabin is not quite like your average hotel room. It’s very similar but with a few subtle nuances of a difference so I wanted to give you a quick rundown of what to expect with your cabin.

Standard Oceanview Cabin

Most importantly, depending on which deck and which cabin you booked, you will generally find the room to be smaller than your average hotel room. It’s completely livable, but not quite as spacious as you would hope for. The cabins have all your standard hotel items- seating area, tv, storage, desk, beds, etc. Most will have twin beds, which you can push together upon request if you’re traveling with a significant other (or you just like to be cozy with your roommate) If you have any more than 2 people in your room, don’t be alarmed when you only see 2 beds in there upon first walking in. Any remaining beds will actually pull out from the ceiling, to create a sort of bunk bed.  However they are generally not pulled down during the day so the room doesn’t feel as cramped.

Other points of note. There is a safe in the room if you want to lock up your valuables. I’ve never actually used it before but its operated with your credit card or a driver’s license. In the room you should also find bathrobes. If you like them, you can purchase them to take home, but they are free to wear during your stay on the cruise. There is generally 1 or very few outlets in the room. Plan accordingly.

There will be a TV in the room that generally broadcasts a few of the major US networks (ABC, NBC, CBS), several channels with ship information, and 1 or 2 movie channels. I find that they work better when you’re in port, but not as well when you’re at sea. Another nice feature of the TV is that it is interactive. You can now check your shipboard account from the TV, order room service, and order pay per view movies. But when you’re on a Backstreet Boy cruise, the only channel you really need to worry about is the Backstreet Boy channel.

Oh the bathroom….what to say about the bathrooms. Cozy does not even begin to describe the bathrooms. It can only fit 1 person, and I wouldn’t even say 1 person comfortably. You can practically take a shower, brush your teeth at the sink, and go the bathroom all from the same spot in the bathroom. While cozy, it does have everything you need.  If this is your first time on a ship, be warned the toilet flushes different than what you’re used to- remember you are on a ship. Basic toiletries will be provided every day including a shampoo and conditioner dispenser in the shower as well as soap. They may have a few other goodies in there as well. Most bathrooms are also equipped with a hair dryer, though its notorious for being pretty weak. So if you need a heavy duty blow dryer to look your best for the boys, Id suggest bringing one from home. One other tip with the bathroom is that there is generally a clothes line hidden in the wall of the shower that can be pulled out to hang wet clothes.

You will have cabin stewards clean up your room twice a day. Once in the morning to make your bed and replenish toiletries, towels and such. And once again in the evening before you go to bed they will turn down you room, which is where the cabin steward basically gets your bed ready for you, puts a chocolate on your pillow, and turns your towel into a fun sort of animal. In my cruising experience, the cabin stewards are usually fantastic. You rarely see them actually in your room, yet every time you return to your cabin its spotless. My only tip when it comes to cabin stewards is that they will be in your room at least twice a day so just be cognizant about leaving valuables out in the open. And not even just valuables. There job is to keep the cabin clean, so sometimes they will move your things around which may cause some confusion later.

Towel Animal!

While I’m rarely in the cabin, the key times that you will actually find me in there are when I’m sleeping or getting ready. Discuss with your roommates what their shower schedule is. My biggest piece of advice when it comes to the cabin is to coordinate getting ready with your roommates. There really isn’t enough room for more than one person to get ready at the same time, plus there aren’t extra mirrors and outlets. So for example if you all wanted to shower and change before dinner, I would suggest you assign times for people to get ready. 5:00- girl #1 gets the entire cabin. 5:30- girl #2 gets the entire cabin; etc.

My last tip for you interior cabin folks is to take advantage of the cruise channel that is a live feed of the outside of the ship. Otherwise you have no concept the weather outside when you’re getting ready. I like to keep this channel on overnight so I can still wake up to “sunlight” and not oversleep. Otherwise that cabin is pitch black and you have no concept of what time of day.

 Standard Interior Cabin

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Platinum VIP vs Cruise

I finally did my very first VIP experience the other day on the NKOTBSB tour. And since I was doing it, I figured I may as well and do it right, so I splurged for platinum. In case you aren’t familiar with platinum VIP- it costs $520 for a sound check party, an individual photo with you and the Backstreet Boys, an autographed picture from the guys, a backstage tour from one of the Backstreet Boys, and an individual picture with that BSB as well.

So you may ask, Laura, why are you comparing platinum VIP to the BSB cruise? Well, at the end of the day I found the costs to be pretty comparable. Hear me out on this. If you look at the cost of a concert ticket and a platinum VIP, its going to run you about $640 or so. Meanwhile the cruise costs on the lower end $900 for the cheapest cabin (with fees). Though I also figure a normal carnival cruise would cost about $250 so if I back that out and only look at what I’m really paying for the Backstreet portion, it’s about $650.

If I could only afford one, I would absolutely do the cruise. For starters, the cruise lasts 3 days and the platinum VIP experience lasts maybe 50 minutes. Maybe an hour and a half if you’re lucky with a longer tour. For both events, you will be guaranteed a concert. The concert on board may be on a smaller scale, but its still just as enjoyable and I think the odds of getting a better seat on the cruise is better. For both events you get the opportunity to ask the guys questions. On the cruise the event lasted well over an hour and they answered a good 25 questions. During the sound check you only get 4 questions. For both events you are guaranteed a picture with the guys. The only pro to the platinum is that you get a solo picture with the guys. But the pro for the cruise is that last year there was no barrier. So if you were lucky with your platinum vip experience and were able to snag a no-barrier picture, than hands down the photo session for platinum is better.

Me + the Backstreet Boys= Pure happiness

There are a few other differentiators for the platinum experience that I do feel are pretty amazing. Thus includes the backstage tour and a guaranteed a solo pic with one of the Backstreet Boys. The backstage tour is certainly really neat, but its still going to be you and 25 other girls in the group. Personally, I had the opportunity for more intimate experiences on the cruise as well as the opportunity for solo pics. The last thing is that you get autographs for the platinum VIP…which for me personally, doesn’t do a lot for me. I’d prefer to get a hug, picture, or the opportunity to say something to them rather than get an autograph.

Me and Nick. He looks so high haha

Meanwhile the cruise has TONS of activities you won’t find anywhere else- family feud, dating game, karaoke, beach party, themed deck parties, and hopefully even more amazing events are in store for next cruise. Plus you will more than likely run into them around the ship, see them eating, playing in the casino, hitting up the club, waiting for an elevator, etc. Then there’s fun other BSB bonuses such as the door decorating contest, BSB TV, the opportunity to see their family, a possible visit from AJ in the middle of the night and much more!

I guess it boils down to the fact that its 8 months after the cruise and I’m still on a high reliving the whole experience. Its been a little over a week since my VIP and while I’m still on a high, it no where compares to the feeling of leaving after the cruise.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Cruising with Howie

Part 2 in my mini-series on cruising with each Backstreet Boy. Next up on the list, bringing those infamous famous latin moves to the high seas, is the one and only Howie D! 

 Howie playing twister at the beach party

Favorite Howie Moment #1:

I did not previously publish this story for various reasons, but anyway, here goes! I basically had the opportunity to go backstage during the cruise so after the Q&A session I decided to head backstage and try my luck at running into a Backstreet Boy. I figured I may be able to catch AJ on his way out for a smoke break or something. Well, I did not catch AJ but rather Nick and Howie coming out after the show. I had a very brief chat with Howie as they were waiting for the elevator. I was so nervous I can't even remember what we talked about. This was obviously a really cool moment for me because I’ve never had the opportunity to be backstage before let alone talk to a Backstreet Boy backstage.

Favorite Howie Moment #2:
I woke up early for breakfast one morning because I was having trouble sleeping, even though I was so tired. I think the adrenaline kept my body from staying asleep too long. Normally I have trouble sleeping after a concert, but trying to get sleep on the cruise, it’s like 20 times worse. Anyway, I grabbed some food and tried to find a familiar face so I wouldn’t have to eat by myself. It didn’t take too long before I found a lovely girl who I met from Australia the day prior. So I joined her while she was finishing up her breakfast. We were probably chatting for a good 5 minutes or so and she abruptly said, “You know Howie has been eating right behind you?” Me- “NO!” Then I pull an awkward maneuver trying to turn around and catch a glimpse of him without it seeming terribly obvious. The rest of my breakfast involved my trying to maintain a normal conversation with this girl, but in my head all I’m thinking is “Omg, Howie is right behind me!” When Howie finished up his breakfast, he graciously decided to take a few pictures. I tried to grab my spot in the mere resemblance of a line and unfortunately just missed him. That’s happened to be several times now so I’ve decided I’m a jinx when it comes to getting a picture with Howie.
Favorite Howie Moment #3:

During the last day at sea, I went to the back pool area to scope out some snacks. After grabbing an ice cream cone, I grabbed a seat to just enjoy a calm moment to myself away from the craziness. Not long after I had grabbed a seat, Howie strolled by with apparently the same idea. I didn't approach him, follow him, or whip out my camera. I just continued with my snack and took in the moment. Nothing like hearing the sound of the ocean and relaxing with with some ice cream with Howie a few tables away. Oh how I wish I could rewind to that moment right now.

Other Howie Highlights
In addition to my personal memories, here are several that I think most of you previous cruisers remember:
  •  The ironing board story. If you were on cruise 2010, enough said.
  •  The fatherly side of Howie definitely came out with him playing with James pretty much the majority of the cruise.

    Howie and James. So cute!
  • Howie rapping during karaoke night
Howie rapping!

Favorite Howie Quotes
  • “Actually my house payments depend upon on you guys so I can’t live without you guys.”
  • “I actually get excited when I hear [a BSB song] in the grocery store. I like want to tell people ‘Hey hey, that's me! In LA especially nobody cares there. Whatever dude. Do your thing. You crazy nut.”
  • “What is your treasured position and why…Possession!

What I’m looking forward to most from Howie on cruise 2011?

Getting a solo picture with Howie! He is the one Backstreet Boy I wasn’t able to get a picture with so that is my goal for the upcoming cruise. I’m also really looking forward to seeing him interact more with his son. This was just so adorable. With his son being a year older, maybe we’ll see them in the pool or around the ship even more than last year.

I’d also really like to see him get more involved in the deck parties. Last year I felt he was probably the quietest BSB at the events so I’d love to get some more cerveza in him so he loosens up ;)
Lets start a campaign for more outgoing Howie next year!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Top 5 Nassau Shore Excursions

Hey Cruisers! We will be spending 2 full days in Nassau this upcoming cruise. Here are some great excursion ideas that sound like a ton of fun. Courtesy of

Here are our top 5 shore excursions you should definitely consider when taking a Caribbean cruise to Nassau, Bahamas.

Kayaking in the Lucayan National Park

Explore this spectacular 42-acre eden with an amazing kayaking tour through the Lucayan National Park. Explore the park’s pristine beauty by kayak as you paddle underneath the mangrove canopy and take in the stunning array of Animal and plant life and go on to explore the mysterious caves and Lucayan Relics.

City and country tour

If water sports or beaches aren’t really your thing, then why not partake in a sightseeing tour of Nassau and its rich history. Tours will typically take you to some of the most historically important and monumental spots on the island. You will get a chance to see the historic downtown area as well as the beauty of the Nassau country side.  The Tours include the ancient forts where pirates used to attack and hide out in, Fort Fincastle and Fort Charlotte.

Scuba diving in Stuart Cove

Just a short ride from Nassau and Paradise Island, Stuart cove is a stunning dive site teeming with Tropical fish and sunken wrecks to explore. Wrecks include a mammoth 100-foot freighter, 50 feet below the surface and the acclaimed James Bond wreck in 40 feet of water in the form of a former tugboat known as the Tears of Allah, which starred in Never Say Never Again. Another James Bond wreck is the Cessna used in the film, "Jaws."

Glass Bottom Boat

Want to see the fabulous marine life without getting wet? Then a trip on the glass bottom boat is perfect. With a completely see through glass floor, you can view the vast array of fish all from the comfort of the boat.

Biking tours of Nassau

Another great way to explore what Nassau has to offer is via a guided bike tour. This is perfect for families and can cater for all fitness levels, giving you the chance to view the island and stop off for a spot of shopping or relax by the beach.

Ellis Green writing on behalf of