Monday, June 25, 2012

New Kids vs BSB Cruise

So this is a post I had really wanted to write myself. But at the end of the day I decided not to do the New Kids cruise. Thus today I present to you, the lovely Cortney Gusek. She just got back from the New Kids cruise and I really enjoyed her review and analysis on how it compared to the BSB cruise. Even though they are 2 different groups, the cruises are still organized by the same company so I think it's interesting to see what BSB does better and where BSB has room to improve. Cortney is a Nick/Donnie girl from Ontario, Canada. She's super friendly so be sure to check her out on facebook and make a new BSB friend today :)

New Kids Cruise vs BSB Cruise

As most of you know I am a die hard BSB fan and always will be. However, the summer of 2011 changed my life when I discovered the Backstreet Boys were joining forces with New Kids on the Block to form NKOTBSB for the ultimate boy band experience.

Now I will be the first to admit I had never been a fan of the New Kids and wasn’t really familiar with them so going on this tour was strictly for BSB. I bought tickets to 4 shows along with Backstreet VIP’s. I was ready to turn on my inner fangirl for BSB when BAM, the curtain dropped and my world spun upside down. I was thrown for a loop as I found myself quickly swooning over 5 New Kids I never even knew existed!

After the first NKOTBSB show I knew I was doomed! Before I knew it I was purchasing tickets to 2 more shows and trying to get an NKOTB VIP with no luck – SOLD OUT! I had a lot to learn about these guys but the first thing I discovered was an entire Block Nation of fans who knew exactly what they were doing!

And so began my new found fandom for NKOTB. A small part of me felt guilty, like I was turning my back on BSB. Then I realized that was impossible! BSB would always be my #1, having been a fan since I was 9, you can’t take that away. And there’s no such thing as too much boy band love. The more I learned about NKOTB, the more I realized how very different these two groups really are. Yes they are both singing groups comprised of men with crazy and dedicated fans that defy time, but that is about as far as the similarities go.

Please remember that this review is simply my thoughts and perspective on these two bands, both of which are near and dear to my heart. I do not mean to insult or offend anyone in any way and you can take this however you’d like.

You may find it hard to believe but I never realized how reserved BSB really are. Compared to NKOTB they are squeaky clean! I can’t really decide if that is a good thing or not. In some ways it shows they are professional and stay true to the image they want to portray, however it makes me wonder if they are 100% genuine. Backstreet are always good to their fans and try to make us feel involved. I have never been disappointed in any VIP experience and they always perform their hearts out!

BUT, NKOTB really don’t hold back. They know who their fans and audience are. They realize we have grown over the years and treat us such. They aren’t afraid to say exactly what they think, they don’t censor their language, and I just get a sense that they are being real all the time! And I hate to say it but I have never seen any New Kid with their nose buried in a cell phone during a VIP or interview.

Is it fair to say BSB has taken some ideas from NKOTB with regards to VIP’s and other added features for the fans? Yes. And is it fair to say BSB might have some improving to do? Sadly, I think so. It’s no secret BSB fans have suggestions on how to make the VIP’s better and I think there is always room for improvement, even with NKOTB. But since I have not experienced an NKOTB VIP I’ll call this a tie since I don’t think either group will 100% make every fan happy.

Now for what you’ve all been waiting for, the Cruises!!! I went on the first two BSB Cruises in 2010 and 2011. I had already book the BSB 2011 Cruise when we found out that the New Kids were having their Cruise in 2012. While we were caught up in the moment on the NKOTBSB tour we said “screw it” and booked the New Kids Cruise too! After having experienced both group’s Cruises, I can tell you there were definite similarities and differences!

Let’s start from the beginning. On the first day we board the boat. We knew the guys have to get on the boat somehow and based on the BSB Cruise we had a good idea of where to stand in the lobby to get a good view. We thought we were being smart by heading to the Port at 10:30am when boarding didn’t even begin until noon. Boy were we in for a shock when we arrived only to find the lobby already ¾ filled with fans! These Block Heads don’t mess around. Right away I could sense the difference. Both bands had a full charter boat but BSB never sold out, whereas New Kids sold out almost right away! There were so many girls in this little terminal that I began to get a little nervous. This was a whole new ball park! Moral of the story, I learned right away that the BSB Cruise was way more mellow than a New Kids Cruise, if you can believe that!

So we didn’t get the greatest view of the guys boarding and we waited twice as long to get on board but all was going well. Once on board, we headed for the Lido deck to get some lunch while waiting for our room. Just like the BSB Cruise, the guys were having lunch in the same area at the same time. The difference…the New Kids stayed on the top floor and sent their security down to get their food. I found that BSB were able to mingle a little better and sat on the main floor, stood in line at the buffet with fans, etc. But maybe that is because they had less of crowd to deal with than New Kids, who knows?

After eating we took a quick stop at our rooms to freshen up before heading to the Sail Away deck party. First of all I have to say I like the Destiny better then Imagination. The deck allows a way better view anywhere you stand and seems more roomy. But none the less, there were still those crazy fans who staked their claim on the prime spots and “camped out” for hours. Some things will never change for either group!

New Kids Sail Away Party
First I have to address the weather. The BSB Cruise was in December both years so it was usually quite cool and windy. At the time I hated it but what I wouldn’t have done for it to be cold again. Florida in Jun is friggin’ HOT! For me the Sail Away party was the worst. It was in the middle of the day, in the blazing sun, and we were crammed on a deck filled with 3,000 screaming fans! I was miserable…until the guys appeared and then the weather was the last thing on my mind! I am curious to know what it was like cruising in May – maybe next year??!!!

Along these lines was the rockiness of the boat. In December I found the water to be a bit more rough. I handled the movement fine but some people were out of commission for the first day and missed all events because they were so sea sick. In June, I didn’t even know I was on a boat most of the time so that was a huge plus!

Another major difference at the deck parties was that NKOTB had 3 small stages on the main level of the deck. Just like BSB they came out on the top deck by the railing but quickly made their way to the lower stages. I found this amazing since it allowed us to have a good view of each of them no matter where we were standing. The guys also took turns switching spots, crowd surfing through the fans to get from one stage to another or just walking through everyone! Each guy only had one security guard and I found they were really good at staying back and not being too pushy with fans. BSB did make an attempt to walk through the fans but it was literally a few minutes, quickly walking past everyone from one set of stairs to the other and back to the safety of the top deck with two security around each of them! Whereas the New Kids spent almost the entire night on the deck mingling with the fans.

Another huge difference between the two groups was that New Kids were constantly signing autographs for fans. If you were gutsy enough to go into the sea of fans in front of the stages and hold up something you were guaranteed to get it signed. The guys would also grab cameras and snap shots of themselves or with fans. They were just way more interactive! If you were like me and stayed back on the tiered railings you weren’t out of luck either. Some of the guys weren’t afraid the venture up further for us less “aggressive” fans! If I could suggest anything to BSB it would be to loosen up and trust your fans a bit more. We pay a lot of money to be there so try to make it a little more worth while.

I also found that the New Kids spent a lot more time on the microphone. As much as BSB tried to party I hate to say they really have nothing on NKOTB. These guys can drink and really know how to have a good time. They dance, pull fans on stage to dance with them, sing along to songs, give speeches, tell jokes, etc. Yes there were a few funny moments on the BSB Cruise and the guys had their fair share of drinks, etc. but I just found I spent a lot of time watching BSB hang out with each other and their friends/family from behind the railing and only occasionally addressing the fans.

New Kids at Pajama Night
One thing both groups need to improve on is the DJ! How many times can we hear the same song in one night? And it would be nice if we could hear an entire song in full before it gets cut off by another crappy song half way through. And seriously, enough with the blow horn – we get it! P.S. – theme nights usually mean we would like to hear songs that match that theme. We can hear the top 20 on the radio any day! And on a side note, 90’s does not equal all rap – seriously know your audience!

Moving on… be prepared to not sleep, on any cruise! Those deck parties go to the wee hours of the morning and you’ll have to get up the next morning to do it all again. Wear comfy shoes!!! I paid the price on this cruise by wearing flip flops the whole time and my feet got so swollen from the heat and never sitting down. Comfort is key!!!

Next up…Beach Party. I have to say neither group had the best Beach Party. For Backstreet we were taken to the beach where it was a free for all to get spots in front of the stage. We had to eat our lunch in the sand at our spot because there was no tables and we waited for over 3 hours until the guys finally arrived. Once they got there it was great though. They sang a couple acapella songs and played a bunch of beach games. I found BSB got the fans more involved and spent more time on the beach playing games. They moved around and divided into two groups so there were more options for fans to get a good view at the guys doing something.

With New Kids they offered a reserved area for priority wrist bands, which I was lucky enough to have however, we were the first ones to get off the boat and had to stand in a line away from the beach for hours until we were finally let into the area closer to the stage. We were dying from standing in the heat all day but luckily the reserved area went into the water so we opted to stay a bit further back to cool off. The regular wrist bands were being kept off to the sides of this area but it was not officially blocked off. We thought we had it good until suddenly the stupid security guards let EVERYONE rush the stage at the last minute right before the guys arrived and they all ran in front of us in our reserved area so in the end we had a crappy view after standing in a line all day while the others got to relax on the beach and then took our spots. I was pissed!

A note for next year, the reserved area should be roped off right into the water and monitored better by security to make it fair for those who were supposed to have the priority wristbands. It’s a “reserved” area for a reason!

But in the end, having a reserved area at the beach for wristbands is a great idea that BSB should consider too, it just needs to be organized better!

I also wasn’t a fan of the concert being on the beach for NKOTB. Because of the heat they only sang a few songs, whereas BSB had a full on concert with lights and effects back on the boat. I think it’s more fair to have the concert in the theatre on the boat where everyone has an assigned seat instead of the mayhem that took place on the beach with general seating!

I found the New Kids only did a few beach games and even though they brought up fans, they themselves didn’t really participate in the games as much as BSB did so there was less interaction. They only spent a couple hours total on the beach whereas BSB were there all day with us! I think the Beach Party needs a lot of improvements for both groups and it’s hard to say which was better or worse.

Donnie at the beach party
Now for the photo-op. This too was a mess for both groups. We are told to pre-arrange groups with two fans per guy. This is easier said than done! When you finally have your group formed you spend most of the day standing in a long line waiting nervously to meet the guys. And when you finally get there, it’s over in a blink of an eye. It also doesn’t help having security yelling at you the whole time to keep it moving, turn around and snap/flash, get out! What just happened??? Both groups spend about a millisecond giving each person a quick hug and a half-hearted hello. It always seems like they are pre-occupied and bored which really doesn’t help.

I understand it must be tough taking photos all day and meeting 3,000 fans but there really HAS to be a better way to organize this! Just don’t ask me how! My only suggestion to make up for this a little bit is to give each fan a autographed photo like at the BSB VIP so everyone walks away with something. It’s the least they can do when we spend so much really!

Ok back to the positive…shows on the boat! I have to say I LOVED the shows put on in the theatre. First was the game show. I thought NKOTB Squares was hilarious but they should have invited one fan to sit with each of the guys to play together to make it more interactive rather than having all the fans off to the side. Other than that it was great. BSB also did a great job at their game shows each year and they really know how to involve the fans so I have no complaints there!

NKOTB on the other hand had extra shows in the theatre that BSB didn’t. They divided it into two days with two guys each day. Danny’s show was really moving and raw and the Joe Show was hilarious! He is so talented, I would pay just to see him perform that alone. Then there was the Backrub which I really have no words for and only wish I could have brought my camera but what happens on the boat stays on the boat (sorta)! And I couldn’t have been more excited to see Jordan perform his Live & Unfinished show again, and he didn’t disappoint! There really is nothing I would do differently about these shows!

BSB on the other didn’t do anything above and beyond like this to showcase themselves as individuals or even offer extra events in the theatre. So I think that is something they should consider adding for the next cruise because it really does make a huge difference. We get to see them more and having it in the reserved seating theatre is very fair!

Each group also offered a gift bag and it’s hard to say which was better. NKOTB had a drawstring beach bag as the actual gift bag whereas BSB had a cheap plastic bag. NKOTB had sunglasses and chap stick whereas BSB had trinkets that matched each theme night to bring with you to the deck parties. Another thing I liked with BSB was they planted 5 golden ducks one year and 5 golden crowns the next year and whoever had these items in the gift bag got to go on stage with the guys on one theme night to hang out with them. However, NKOTB had a water bottle which was by far the best gift! We brought it with us to the beach which was a lifesaver and then used it for the deck parties so we didn’t have to keep buying drinks! Perfect!

I think overall I saw BSB around the boat more but that could be because the boat was less full and a downfall was they always had tons of security. I only saw NKOTB a couple times and they passed by quickly but I did see that Donnie and Danny signed almost everyone’s door decorations that I passed by which means they took the time to walk around and leave autograph’s which is awesome!

Doing these cruises can’t be easy for either group and I’m so glad they put in the effort to do this year after year but I still think there can be improvements. I had an amazing time on each cruise I’ve been on and I’m sure it won’t be my last! I can’t say that one group is any better than the other but the best way I can describe it is they are very different!

I said from the get-go that I have always been a BSB fan and they will always be #1 but they’d better watch out because they have some serious competition!!! After this summers’ NKOTBSB tour and the New Kids Cruise I now officially call myself a Blockhead even though BSB will always be in my heart! I can’t even imagine what the future holds…all I know is I’m in trouble!!!


  1. Thanks Laura for posting my review!!!

  2. so did nkotb(donnie/danny) sign your door?

  3. Very descriptive and helpful! Thanks to both Laura and Cortney for sharing so much of their perspective on these experiences! :)