This year I decided to fly down to Miami 2 days early in order to relax and do essentially nothing before all the festivities began. Initially I was planning to get in extra early in anticipation for a pre-cruise event, but alas, no such luck. But even without the official pre-cruise event, I found I really enjoyed getting there early and relaxing. We went to South Beach, ate some good local food, hit up the beach in between downpours, sat by the pool, got manis/pedis, scrambled to complete our door decoration, and just got excited for the cruise.
I stayed at the Holiday Inn and there were a bunch of fans around the area. It's come to be an annual tradition for me to stay there, and even though its no 5-star hotel, I love seeing all the fans around. We also checked out the Bayside Marketplace and I met some first time cruisers. As more cruisers passed by and found us, our group grew to 12 people as we chatted the night away.
I headed to the terminal pretty early as I like to be one of the first on board and start meeting up with all my friends. Plus I like to be there to see the guys board. Lets face it- every second with BSB I can get, I will take. As I've said before, waiting for the boys to show up in the terminal is one of my favorite parts of the whole trip because in that moment I had the entire trip to look forward to. And I didn't have to wait long before the guys trickled and the entire terminal erupted with cheers. I always chuckle watching the Carnival staff laugh at us. But honestly, sometimes I don't blame them.
Anyway, I was right up front where the guys came out and already got a taste of the pushing that would follow the rest of the cruise. Part of me was hoping they'd stop for pictures, hugs, or even a quick handshake. But all 5 of them swiftly moved past me to make their way onto the Imagination. One thing that did immediately catch my attention is that 4 of the 5 guys were traveling without their wives/families. Leighanne was the wife who came. And Howie's brother, John, was also there. Every year the entourage seems to dwindle down.
|Brian broadcasting his entrance to the terminal|
I was group 2 to board so I eagerly rushed up the gangway to get the cruise started. The atrium was overflowing with BSB decorations including huge banners, cardboard cutouts, and even posters spanning the length of the elevator. I was already impressed!
Next stop- lunch. I was actually a bit nervous to eat, but did manage to get some food down. While I was eating they brought around pretty pink drinks with umbrellas in them. Normally I'm quick to say 'no' but upon closer inspection I saw they were served in a 20th Anniversary BSB cruise cup. Dammit, Carnival, just take my money already! They really do see us coming a mile away. As I was sipping my fruity drink, I spotted a crowd of girls scrambling near the buffet. I spotted a thick beard through the throngs of girls, which could only mean one thing- AJ grabbing some lunch. Eeeek! I love the random boy sightings. They never get old.
|Me and my 20th anniversary BSB drink|
|Me and Brian!|
We eventually made our way to the cabin and scrambled to put on BSB TV, which I was devastated when it wasn't turned out yet. I also had a mini panic attack when I saw we didn't have our goody bags, thinking they were doing them this year. But my roommate, Chrissy, gently reminded me that they would be delivered later. Silly me! Clearly I'm not thinking straight. So we threw our luggage down and started putting up our door decoration. Our concept was '500 Reasons BSB is Larger than Life'. We had a lot of fun with the concept and had a few friends stop by as we were putting it up. Even though we didn't end up winning, I'm pretty proud with how it turned out. I'll also post the 500 reasons in a later entry for your reading pleasure.
|Me, Chrissy, and 500 Reasons we love BSB|
Because we didn't have Backtreet TV in our room yet, we flipped on the channel that had a live stream of the pool deck and noticed that crowds were already forming rows deep around the stage. Uh oh. This cruise was definitely going to be different than the past two cruises. We scrambled to get upstairs to do the life boat drill and then faced the crowds as we waited to sail away.
I was happy and surprised when the guys finally emerged and they were all clad in sailor suits. I thought that was such a nice touch! The sail-away party lasted about 50 minutes and I thought they kicked everything off well. They played a lot of fun music and some of boys braved the mobs and made their way around the deck. One of my favorite quotes from the event:
"Hey, we're going to try to photos with everybody as much as possible. But i gotta tell you, is that everyday we're going to be in a different outfit but we're still the same guys. Alright? So if you got a picture the first day, its okay to let someone else get a picture the next day." - Howie
|BSB welcoming us aboard in their sailor suits|
|I just had to share this pic of Brian|
|Nick sneaking up behind me causing pandemonium|
This was my first event in the lounge and was slightly disappointed by my seat. I know there were some far worse off, but I was way off to the side and had a pole blocking my view of Nick. *sad face* Luckily Chrissy had the same pole blocking her view of Brian so we switched. It actually works out quite nicely that we don't have the same fave guy.
Honestly, I thought the opening first few minutes of this event were the best. The boys were goofing around behind the screen making funny shadows. I can't really explain well, so just watch....
Sorry for the shaky camera work- i was laughing quite a bit.
Other highlights of the game show:
- Nick actually put gum under his desk.
- Howie listed 'Grompy' as one of the 7 dwarves
- Howie spelled 'Millennium' wrong (seriously howie, you don't know how to spell your own album??)
- Kevin trying to strictly enforce the rules
- Kevin was the only one who didn't get the memo on them changing outfits so he was the only one who showed up still in his sailor outfit
- Nick constantly trying to convince the other guys to pick the math category so he wouldn't have to do it
- Nick getting incredibly worked up with Brian over which airport IWITW was filmed at
- An incredibly lengthy debate over what time zone Kentucky is in
|Howie in his dunce cap|
After the game show I did a mini photo-shoot with the cardboard cut out backstreet boys. And good thing I did- I heard some fans stole them by day 2. I'm sorry, but really girls? Then we went to dinner and spotted Howie eating off to the side. I'm surprised he had the time to eat! But it was nice stealing a quick glimpse of him. Fans seemed to be respectful for the most part.
|Me and cardboard cutout Backstreet Boys|
Time for our first deck party- yay! On the way up to the deck party I actually ran into Nick and Howie playing craps in the casino. So I got a little sneak peak of their outfits before the fun began. They definitely aren't as entertaining as AJ to watch, they don't really acknowledge that there are fans around. But that didn't stop me from enjoying myself. I also had to laugh that right over the table was a TV streaming backstreet TV and it happened to be playing the This is Us concert. I found it weird watching them on TV while they were simultaneously right in front of me. But what made it even more entertaining is that every once in a while I'd see Nick or Howie look up and watch themselves in concert. For some reason I found this quite comical. Makes you wonder if they're flipping on Backstreet TV in their cabins.
|Nick & Howie in the casino|
|Me and my gals|
The rest of the evening included Nick playing the drums, which I thought was pretty cool. He hadn't done that at a previous deck party. Nick, AJ and Brian all went crowd surfing. Another nice treat so early on the cruise! I think one of my favorite parts was Kevin's cheesy dance moves....
Exhibit A of Kev's cheesy dance moves
I thought the boys did a great job working the crowd, moving from the upper deck to the lower stage, mingling, taking pictures, getting the crowd pumped, etc. I really just spent the night a bit further back from the crowds and took it all in. I did notice that Kevin had disappeared from the stage for a while. I would later find out from my friend, Anne Marie, that Kevin was actually taking pictures with fans by one of the hot tubs towards the back of the deck. As soon as she told me, I bolted away figuring I should at least try to get a pic with him, right? Worst thing that could happen is me getting pushed in the hot tub by some rabid fans- no biggie. I've experienced worse. So after maybe 15 minutes of waiting I made my way up to Kevin, at which point he decided to turn around and do pictures with girls on the other side of him. So there I am awkwardly standing behind him for like 5 minutes wondering what the hell I should do. And then he stopped taking pictures altogether and just started dancing. Increasing my awkward feeling even more. Should I stay? Should I leave? What's a fangirl supposed to do?! I am most definitely not the pushy type so thank goodness he finally stopped dancing and turned back around for more pics so I was able to snag this gem with him...
|Me and Kev. Please note that is NOT my lipstick on his cheek.|