Monday, April 27, 2015

Scavenger Hunt: Callie & Kristie's Casino Time with Howie D

As promised, Callie is back along with roommate Kristie to share their super exciting experience on winning the Howie scavenger hunt. I absolutely love this story, and part of the reason I love it so much is because I played cruise matchmaker setting these 2 gals up. This is yet another example of what can happen even if you have no one to travel with....I swear after reading this post I thought these girls were lifelong friends. but it was their first BSB cruise! Love these girls!

A little about Callie- Aside from being a huge Brian girl, she's super sweet and the mother of
the two cutest boys I have ever seen! So don't forget to follow her on twitter @calliewoodland or on Facebook.
A little about Kristie- She is a huge Nick fan from New Jersey. And by huge Nick fan....even her boyfriend is named Nick (ha! sorry I find this really amusing). She's so much fun to hang out with so make sure to follow her on on twitter @kristie_sacch.
Now that our post cruise depression has FINALLY somewhat subsided, we figured why not relive the memories of one of the best BSB events that we have ever attended-- the BSB Cruise 2014, specifically Howie’s scavenger hunt event. This article is written by cruise roommates, Kristie and Callie, from Callie’s perspective.

This was both Kristie and I’s first cruise, and we were super excited, and had no idea what to expect! While checking in at the port we learned that something new was happening on the cruise this year; a scavenger hunt.  The prize was special time with the Backstreet Boy whose clues you had solved!  As soon as my roommate Kristie and I learned of this information we were determined, we were competitive, and we were certain that we were not going to lose.  In fact, from that moment on we began strategizing. We did everything from looking up maps of the ship online to placing ourselves at a good spot for getting onto the ship early once they started boarding.
The scavenger hunt form and first clues

Scheming in the terminal right before we are about to board

Soon after the Backstreet Boys boarded, the employees released the rope and began general boarding.  Kristie and I flew through the embarkation picture, ran up the ramp and were the first two people to board the ship. With Kristie being a Nick girl and I being a Brian girl, we hoped to find either of their clues. We finally decided that we would start with Nick and then if that plan failed, then try for Brian. As soon as we boarded, we soon realized that this was going to be much harder than we originally thought.

Clue #1 for Nick: “Typically Sunday is a day of worship for many including Nick during the months of September through February. Where would you find Nick and the object of his desire if he were to worship this coming Sunday on the ship? If you are a lucky BUC then you will find the next clue”

From this clue, the first place we wanted to look was a bar, thinking that it had TVs to watch football on Sundays. The first bar we came across on the ship was the piano bar.  We flew into the piano bar and what did we find?  We found Kevin, who was checking out the ship and playing around on the piano.  Although we were frantic, and in quite a rush to find the clue, we certainly found time for a quick selfie with Kevin. 

Kevin and I

Kevin and Kristie
We were not even 2 minutes into our first BSB Cruise, and we already got a selfie with one of the boys- we knew this was the start of something great. However, despite our high hopes, we didn’t find the clue in the bar.  In fact, we didn’t find the clue (or any clue) in the next 257 places that we looked, or those we relooked and then looked again.  We did all of this while carrying our super heavy carry-on bags and running around outside on the Lido deck in hurricane-type wind and rain (I may be exaggerating there slightly, but not much); but really- we almost slipped and broke an ankle many times.

After what seemed like an eternity, we still had not found the next clue for Nick, the Backstreet Boy we were searching for. We also came across a group that had already found the majority of clues for Brian, so we knew that us winning was a lost cause. We retired to our room to begin hanging our door decorations and pout in the fact that we didn’t win.  When we emerged, Kristie had gone to the bar to get the rum punch drink in the souvenir Carnival glass [this is actually an important detail to the story which you will find out later], and we also learned that some of our friends, Chrissy and Cory, had won the AJ event.  Other friends of ours, Laura, Annemarie, and Ana, had won the Kevin event.  We were also told by the Rose Tours employees that both the Nick and Howie prizes had not been claimed.  This reignited our fire, and we began searching again.

Kristie and her rum punch drink
Since we were not having any luck finding clues in places we thought they were, Kristie and I came up with a new strategy of just going somewhere completely new that we had not yet been. We entered a random restaurant/nightclub and found a clue envelope taped to the wall. Hoping and praying that it was for Nick or Brian, we opened in in great suspense. It was clue #3 for Howie.  Even though it was not one of our top choices, we were ecstatic that we even found one clue. This meant we were one step closer to winning SOMETHING!

We currently have misplaced clue #3, so we do not remember exactly what it said, but bottom line is that it lead us to the lounge to search for clue #4. We ran into Laura, who had just won the Kevin scavenger hunt, and helped us find clue #4. Thankfully, she was with us, because we were so close to having it stolen by someone else. This was found taped to the backside of a speaker in the lounge. Thanks Laura! Clue #4:

“On the 2013 BSB Cruise, Howie hosted an event based on his favorite alcohol to drink. Soon yours and Howie’s glasses will be able to clink. Go to the nearest bar and buy this type of alcohol, and bring it to Rose Tours Hospitality Desk. We are on Promenade Deck by the car.”

So, remember that drink that Kristie brought before and was carrying around in her hand? Well, it just so happened to be RUM, Howie’s favorite drink!

Kristie's winning rum drink

It was fate, and Kristie must have fortune teller tendencies! So we brought it to the Rose tours desk with all of our other clues, but we were still missing clue #2. They informed us that we must have ALL the clues to win the prize, therefore we we were required to find clue #2. They sent us on our way to find clue #2, and told us to come back with it AND with some of the drink left. So there went Kristie’s idea of drinking on the job! Of course, we looked over the first clue again.

Howie’s clue #1: “Oye! Howie loves to catch sun in his mother’s native land. He loves laying out, splashing in the pool and shaking his culo (booty) to the music. You can also do all that at the ship’s party headquarters. This is where you will find your next clue, and hint, it’s red white and blue. Dale!”

We searched and searched where we thought for certain it must be based on the clues given and still could not find it.  My roommate and I were convinced that someone else had found the 2nd clue, taken it and just not been able to follow it to the 3rd clue.  After returning to the hospitality desk AGAIN and talking to the Rose Tours employees, we were told that they would chat with higher ups and determine what to do and that we should check back.

When we checked back we were told that we absolutely had to have the 2nd clue, because someone had not already found it.  By this point, we were slightly bummed that our first day of our cruise was not spent relaxing like everyone else’s, and we felt like we were wasting our time. It was almost time for the sail away party, and we were exhausted from running around the ship, and soaking wet from the wind and rain. Although all of these feelings were occurring, we felt like the end result was worth it, and we would do whatever it takes for BSB!

Therefore, we dissected that first clue and looked some more.  Eventually, miraculously, we found the clue hidden inside a plant next to the “Blue Iguana” bar on the Lido deck.  Clue #2 obviously would have led us to the random restaurant to find clue #3 (where we started). Kristie and I were overjoyed as evident by Kristie screaming to me across the Lido deck, “I FOUND THE LAST CLUE! IT WAS IN A PLANT!” As you can imagine, everyone on the deck, both BSB fans and Carnival employees, were staring, in confusion, at the girls screaming waving a drink and piece of paper around in their hands. But we had NO shame; we knew that we had just won a once in a lifetime event with a Backstreet Boy.  

We ran to the hospitality desk, for what felt like days, but was really hours, the last time, and we were given an envelope with instructions to meet Big Pat (the security guard) in the atrium at 5:45 the next day. The ladies at the desk told us that we will be having a special event with Howie that he chose for us to participate in together. Kristie and I spoke about that since Howie and Nick are best buds, MAYBE there will be some way that Nick would be involved; but it was a HUGE stretch, so really it was discounted as a possibility. However, the more real this notion became that we are actually getting one-on-one time with a Backstreet Boy, the more excited we became, and those worries started to fade. With anticipating what our special Howie event would entail, some of our guesses included salsa dancing or bartending [based on Howie’s drinking track record LOL], but we really had no idea; we were just excited and ready for some fun with a Backstreet Boy!

And here it is - the prize of a lifetime!
The moment had finally arrived. I cannot even explain to you the excitement that we felt in anticipation of our Howie event.  While getting ready, we literally went back and forth between jumping up and down from excitement and feeling like we were about to throw up from the anxiety! We headed down to the atrium with Chrissy and Cory who won the AJ scavenger hunt, to find out that Big Pat was not waiting for us, and we were confused.

From L to R: Chrissy, Cory, Callie, Kristie
Therefore we paid yet another visit to the hospitality desk to ask what was happening. They had informed us that, in true Backstreet fashion, the event had been pushed back until the next day, but they did not know what time it would be; just that it would be at some point after the beach party. We were so disappointed and extremely nervous that our event would not occur. So what do we do when you can’t hang out with real BSB?? Take pictures with the cardboard BSB (a must-do on a BSB cruise)! We made a quick stop there first before participating in the other events of the night.

Kristie and Nick

Callie and Brian
So the next day at the beach party, we figured that just to be safe, we would leave early, so that we had enough time to get ready for our Howie event. Once we felt that nothing else important was happening at the beach party, we decided to leave. Later on, we found out that our friends who we were hanging out with found a hidden spot where Brian and Nick (our two favorites) were playing beach volleyball, and they got to play with them! We were super bummed, but hey, at least we got a private event with Howie. We got back to the room and started getting ready. We finally got our call from Rose Tours to establish a time that our event would take place- 5:30PM. So then it finally hit us—it was REAL and it was ACTUALLY going to happen! Time to fangirl!


We were ready early, so we decided to wander around. As we left our cabin, Kristie, the “fortune teller”, said “I just have this funny feeling that Nick is in the casino; I don’t know why, but I feel like we should go and check it out.” Well, as fate would have it, we walk into the casino, and there is Nick, looking as good as ever, playing craps. Kristie and I had a drink, and walked around the casino for about 15 minutes. Knowing that you can run into the boys on the cruise at any point was still such a cool feeling that we could not get over, and now we got to hang out near Nick while he gambled in the casino. But little did we know, the best was yet to come.

About 15 minutes before our Howie event, Howie comes up to the table and starts playing craps with Nick. Our first thoughts were- “Oh I guess Howie is playing craps for a few minutes before he has our event with us?” As it became 5 minutes until our event, the progression of our thoughts became “Is Howie going to ditch us? Our event is so soon- what is he doing?! What if we’re playing craps with him? No way, we would die. We’ve never gambled before!” Then of course Kristie’s out-loud thoughts became- “But Nick is there- what if we’re playing with him too?!” With Kristie’s track record of her somehow knowing the future, it was all too much to handle and it was impossible to contain our excitement. So with those thoughts in our head (and some said aloud), we headed to the atrium.

Arriving at the atrium, Big Pat was waiting for us.  After verifying that we were in fact the winners he asked us a question: are you ready to play craps with Howie?  Kristie, the “fortune teller” and I just stare at each other open mouthed, and we both scream “no way- we were just up there, and thought that!” Kristie I freaked out a little bit, as we had never played craps before, but Big Pat assured us that Howie was going to be there to teach us how.  On our way up to the casino, Pat said, “Nick is going to be mad because we’re going to have to kick him off the table.” I could almost hear Kristie’s thoughts in her head and it went a little something like this: “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!” Kristie asked if maybe he could stay, and Pat said no, so Kristie’s dreams then became slightly crushed, although she was still excited that she was the one girl on the cruise going to get to kick Nick off the table, so that she could play craps with Howie.

Entering the casino, Howie (and Nick) were still at the table.  Big Pat went to him and said, “These are your winners.” He then pointed us towards Howie.  I walked up first, hugged Howie said “Hi I’m Howie, what’s your name?”  At the time I thought this was hysterical-here a Backstreet Boy was introducing himself to me!  Of course I knew he was Howie!  Howie of the Backstreet Boys!  Then Howie said “Hi” to and hugged Kristie, and it was time to play craps. Right away, Howie pulled a wad of money out of his pocket and said, “We are going to be playing craps courtesy of the Backstreet Boys.” Then he threw $150 on the table-$50 for each of us.  He also ordered us a drink.  When asked what I would have, I said I would take a rum punch as I knew rum was Howie’s favorite.  Kristie ordered a rum and coke. As you can probably imagine, the only thought that fulfilled our brain at the moment was “We are playing craps courtesy of a Backstreet Boy, AND he just bought us a drink?! IS THIS REAL LIFE?!” Furthermore, Kristie had an extra thought in her head: “NICK WAS STILL HERE!” And here’s an important fact- Nick never left the table! Kristie, the Nick girl, (and “fortune teller”), was dying inside. Our arrangement around the table went myself, Howie, Kristie, a bodyguard and then Nick.

And there we were, with Howie AND Nick (and Nick looking angry because he was watching the football game on TV)
Howie taught us to play the entire game of craps.  Although he did a great job of walking us through the game and explaining things, I was so nervous that I basically just did whatever Howie did.  At one point I could feel myself rubbing shoulders with him (we were standing in pretty close proximity next to each other at the table). My first instinct was to step away give Howie some space.  But then I realized that I was rubbing shoulders with a Backstreet Boy-there was no way I was going to move!

Kristie and I concentrating on How teaching us how to play

We continued to play, chatting the entire time.  The three of us talked about everything.  We discussed how Kristie and I had met, the concert the night before and even whether there would be another cruise. Howie also asked where we were from. I said I was from Kansas City, and Kristie said that she was from Central New Jersey. Howie then asked Kristie if he had met her before. Kristie was shocked because although she had met Howie many times, a few years ago, she had an in-depth conversation with him about New Jersey and how both she and his wife’s family live in the same vicinity, etc., and she could not believe that he remembered! So this was a turning point for Kristie in being completely 100% satisfied that we won the Howie event. It was really cool to see that Howie finds meaning in conversations that you have with him.

A few of our favorite moments are as follows:
  • Howie blowing on my dice for luck before I rolled them!
  • Talking about our kids.  This was a big one for me.  I have 2 boys, as does Howie.  They are around the same age and it was lots of fun to tell him about my children and share stories of our kids. 
  • The casino had been one of the places on the ship where Backstreet Boys music was playing constantly.  At one point while we were playing Howie looked up, listening to the music.  He looked over at Nick and said, “Nick, is this you singing?”  Nick gave Howie a funny look and said, “Yeah, this is ‘The Answer to Our Life’-one of our songs.”  In response to which Howie was like, “Oh yeah-that’s right.”  I found it so absolutely funny that Howie didn’t even recognize one of his own songs! 
  • While talking about the concert the night before I mentioned to Howie that it really was just like the Homecoming Live in Orlando concert.  In fact, I told him that it was one of my favorites and that I had just watched that concert 5 days before in preparation of the cruise.  (Did I admit to too much fangirling here in front of a Backstreet Boy?!?  Haha!!) Then, for laughs, Kristie said, “So, Howie- want to know how old I was when Homecoming was released?? Fourth grade.” Howie laughed, and said “Whatttttttttt?! Thanks for making me feel old!” Making a Backstreet Boy laugh- let’s check that one off our bucket lists!
  • Snapping a selfie with Howie during the game
    My selfie with Howie while playing craps
After about 30 minutes one of Howie’s bodyguards tapped him on the shoulder and let him know that he would need to start wrapping it up as he needed to get to the question/answer session. We finished our round. Howie thanked us for playing with him and gave us each a big hug.  He told us that the money, including any winnings, was ours to keep.  He also told us that later that night, if he was playing again he would be happy to continue coaching us.  Unfortunately this never happened, as it was the final night of the cruise and after the deck party, the casino was closed.

At this time we (Howie, Nick, my roommate Kristie, and I) all got into line to cash in our chips. Again, was this real life?!  Originally, Howie was behind Kristie and me, but we encouraged him to go ahead of us, as we knew he needed to get to the event quickly.  Nick was at the cashier cashing in his chips and I began thinking to myself that it would be awesome to get a photo with him commemorating our time playing craps together.  I pulled my cell phone out so I would be ready if I had the opportunity.  Nick’s bodyguard, Mike, saw me with the phone and said, “No pictures.”  I was like, “Oh, okay” and put my phone away.  When Nick was finished cashing in his chips, I thought I would at least try to say goodbye.  I stepped up to him and said, “It was fun playing craps with you today.”  Nick said that he had fun too and then said something totally unexpected.  He said, “Would you like a picture?”  Nick Carter was asking ME if I would like a picture with him?!?  Well, of course I do!  We snapped a selfie, he gave me a hug, and I was in heaven! Kristie was looking on trying not to die and only hoped that he would ask her the same. Sure enough, he walked over to her, and said “Would you like one too?” and they took their picture. Oh Nick, what a gem. This was more than Kristie could have ever hoped for a Howie event.

Nick and Kristie in the casino after playing craps

Nick and I in the casino after playing craps

The event was awesome.  I fully understand that we were so lucky to be able to participate in a once-in-a-lifetime event with not one, but TWO Backstreet Boys.  It was something that we had never even dreamed of, because we never knew it was possible.  My roommate and I had Howie’s full attention for about 30 minutes.  We talked about real life.  Plus, we had the added bonus of playing with Nick as well.

A very happy Kristie back in the cabin with her winnings
As previously stated, this was our first Backstreet Boys cruise, and we chose to make the most of it (luckily, we were fortunate enough). We also found out that we prefer to complete scavenger hunts backwards and that Kristie should have been a fortune teller. Who knew BSB cruises could be so fun AND educational! Our entire cruise, especially the last night was AMAZING. In addition to our Howie event, we celebrated at dinner with part of our large group of friends, who happen to also win the Kevin and AJ events. There was definitely luck running around our group. It was so hard to believe that on a ship filled with almost 2000 BSB fans, our group made up 7 out of the 11 girls that got to spend extra one-on-one time with a Backstreet Boy. Between winning this event and all the other amazing aspects of the trip, including the many selfies we were able to take with the boys, I don’t know that another cruise will ever be able to live up to this one.  Until the next one though, we have many once-in-a-lifetime memories made from this cruise with our boys.

Cheers to the luckiest girls on the 2014 BSB cruise!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Recap 2014: Day 3 (Part 2)

Returning back from the beach party, I was once again on cloud 9 from the amazing day spent with my friends and the Backstreet Boys.

As soon I got back to the ship, I was busy enjoying in the excitement of my friends who won the Howie and AJ scavenger hunts, as they were getting ready for their 1x1 time with the boys. Both groups were told to wait in the atrium lobby, so I sat and waited with them. My 'Howie' friends were whisked away first by a staff member, which I would later find out they were taken to the casino to play craps (guest blog post coming soon). Of course we were expecting staff to come up pick up the AJ girls, but lo and behold, AJ himself came. So that in and of itself was worth the wait.

At this point I was kind of torn, but I decided to follow my friends to see where AJ was taking them. Turns out they went to the coffee bar for a 'Friends - Central Perk' type of hang out. You can read all about it in the post 'Scavenger Hunt: Chrissy's Coffee Date with AJ.' I basically hung off to the side in a non-obtrusive way in order to take pictures for them. I felt kind of awkward being there. I assumed if AJ saw me, he would've thought I was just being obnoxious trying to take pictures of him. But that wasn't the case AT ALL! I was solely trying to get pictures of my friends on their experience, again, because I appreciate it when people do the same for me.

And in the spirit of the Friends themed prize...this picture perfectly sums up how I felt being there.

C'mon, I know I'm not the only one out there who has felt this way on a BSB cruise! Anyway, their coffee date continued on for close to a half an hour, and actually ran over into the Show 'Em promo and Q&A. Since I had already seen the documentary at the NYC premiere, I didn't mind being late. Plus I really wanted to chat with my friends to see how it went. And after all, I didn't mind watching AJ from afar.

As soon as AJ got up to leave, I ran over to Chrissy & Cory to get all the gossip. They looked just as I had looked the night before after my time with Kevin...a mix of pure elation and disbelief. They went on and on about everything they talked about and it seemed like such an amazing experience! I won't get into everything as Chrissy already touched on it in her blog post. But there was one thing that Chrissy did leave out, which brought me to tears.

They shared with AJ about their own door decoration, which led to a natural segue to bring up my door decoration. As soon as they mentioned the door, AJ immediately responded, "Oh yeah, cabin U299. I'm going to go check it out tonight after the deck party." Are you freakin kidding me, McLean? You actually know off-hand my cabin number and have plans to come visit. I stopped breathing.

And as if that wasn't enough, my friends also shared with him a little bit about me - how I dressed up as Spudnik from Friends the night before and they also brought up my blog. Apparently AJ knew exactly who I was. Queue the tears to start falling. I obviously wasn't there to judge for myself how genuine he was being with his response, and I still have trouble believing it, but my friends reassured me. The thought that AJ knew of me, without even having the context of seeing me in front of him....and the thought that he may have actually heard of, or potentially be reading this blog....ugh, I can't even begin to explain the rush of emotions.

Now I was a hot mess rushing off to the Show 'Em premiere...

Show 'Em What You're Made of Preview and Q&A

I arrived about 10 minutes into the movie, right at Kevin's hometown visit where he's sharing the details of his dad. I lost it the first time I saw that scene, and being in the emotional state I was in, it got me right in the feels again.

I honestly had trouble concentrating on the rest of the movie because I couldn't wait to share the news with them that AJ said he was going to come see our cabin that night.

A couple of highlights from the event:
  • Howie- "Did anyone cry?"
    Crowd- "Yeahhh"
    Howie- "A bunch of babies!"
  • Howie- "Now I know why AJ sneezes all the time."
    Nick- "My shoulder's wet."
    Howie- "He came from a house that had a lot of mold."
    Brian- "He's actually allergic to Howie's voice."
  • AJ's story where he recounts a time when he was with Ava and asking her to identify among the Backstreet Boy's 'which one is daddy?' And she replied 'yes' to everyone. AJ joked that him and Rochelle had some talking to do and it could've been the end of BSB.
  • Kevin sharing some stories about Mason's reaction to his first taste of BSB world. My favorite was when Mason was watching them rehearse their choreography asking "Are they supposed to be [dancing] together?" and Tony replied "No, but they're supposed to."
  • Fan asks what happens to unreleased tracks and Nick matter of factly replies, "Go to youtube."
  • AJ revealed he just learned how to do his laundry 2 years ago
  • I liked hearing Brian's story about his dad coming from home from work and playing catch with him, mainly because it was a story I had never heard before
  • Apparently Howie was going to let Kev have the master bed in London during their recording time, but Brian swooped in and took it first.
  • AJ- "Hi, I'm AJ. And I love attention."
Overall this event was good, but perhaps not my favorite of this cruise, nor my favorite Q&A compared to past Q&As. It was a bit more serious because all the questions were based around the documentary. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, I'm all for digging a bit deeper. But compared to other Q&As, I just wasn't laughing nearly as much. Though of course the boys still managed to infuse a lot of humor, as you can see from above.

My other minor complaint, well complaint isn't the right word, but rather observation with this event is that the bulk of the audience had only seen the first 20 minutes of the film. Well there's only so much you can ask based on 20 minutes of a film. As a result, the questions got a bit redundant. Had we had this Q&A after seeing the movie in it's entirety, I think it would've been completely different because there are some topics that the film brought up which had previously been taboo to mention...and now all of a sudden are fair game to discuss.

Next up was dinner. One of my favorite non-BSB parts of the day. This meal was particularly memorable because we had the AJ scavenger hunt winners, the Howie scavenger hunt winners, and the Kevin scavenger hunt winners at one table. We had fun swapping stories. Yay for downtime with my girls!

The gang at dinner

ABC Night
I'll just come out and say it - I had no idea what to wear for this night and I frankly didn't have the time or energy to get too creative with it. So I opted for a very fashionable trash bag dress.

I thought this theme night was pretty good, certainly no Bachelorette Night, but then again I don't know if anything will compete with that. I really liked that they brought fans up on stage to show off some of the better outfits. We put so much effort into these outfits, doors, etc, its just really nice to see that they're being acknowledged in some way. I hope they continue to do this in the future. I'm sure it will raise the bar even more knowing that you could be called up on stage for the boys to see your outfit.

Here's the obligatory group photo of the guys from the evening. I just loved Howie's costume, very appropriate with his '100 Kisses' song. Plus he was throwing chocolate kisses into the audience, which is always a good thing.

Backstreet Boys - ABC Night

I'll focus on the highlights of this theme from my perspective. I was up on the top deck and avoiding the crowds. Well I didn't have to wait too long before AJ headed in my direction, which should'nt have surprised me. I couldn't seem to get away from him! Not that I was trying to, but I somehow ended up with so many pictures with AJ this cruise. I didn't really chat with him too much, I was just appreciating his outfit from up close. Of course before I left, I had to grab some popcorn from *ahem* his popcorn bucket.

Shortly after AJ stopped by, Brian was the next Backstreet Boy to come to the upper deck for pictures. I'm telling you, it really is about being in the right place in the right time...and being patient!

Brian was such a sweetie that night. There were about 4 of us standing in a circle and he came over and said 'hi.' Of course I had to compliment him on his outfit. He went on to tell us that he and Leighanne actually worked on a lot of it themselves, unlike the other guys who had their outfits made. If memory serves me, he spent at least 4 hours working on it. It was at this point we were chatting for a record-setting 30 seconds or so. Thus I figured it was time to get our picture so he could move onto other fans who were waiting. I tried to make a segue into pictures but instead, he kept on talking!

I was caught off guard because my normal experience when running into a Backstreet Boy on board is make 10-20 seconds of small talk, take picture, and immediately leave to make room for other fans. But this time was different. We probably ended up chatting for 5 minutes or so, which may not sound like a lot to a non-cruiser. But in the world of Backstreet Boy cruises, 5 minutes is like an eternity. At least for me it is.

So I continued to chat with Brian for a few more minutes, savoring every precious second. We chatted more about the theme outfits and he shared how they have a wardrobe person to help them put something together. The conversation then segued into Halloween night and how the boys picked who would be who. Apparently AJ, Brian, and Howie were all easy to pick and that their characters kinda matched their personalities (Ie- Brian was the cowardly lion who got brave, etc). It came down to Nick and Kevin debating on who would be the witch and who would be Dorothy. I'm pretty sure he said Nick lost that bet.

Having this chat with Brian was really nice. I felt like he was the one carrying the conversation more so than we were, and I never once felt like he was anxious to rush off to get to other fans. It was just great to be able to have a more substantial interaction with any of the guys beyond the usual 5-second selfie. It was a great way to end the cruise.

Random thought- Had I known I would've gotten pictures with 2 Backstreet Boys, I probably would've put slightly more effort into my outfit. I never thought I'd have a picture with a Backstreet Boy literally wearing a trash bag.

After my interactions with AJ & Brian, I noticed AJ had a big ole line forming around the upper pool deck to take pictures with him. That was so nice and I really hope they do more of that in the future rather than the crazy mob scene. Kevin and Brian also followed suit and did a lot of pictures. The evening turned into the last chance to get a picture with a Backstreet Boy, and they all did a great job of getting to as many fans as they could.

The Final Hours
I eagerly went back to my cabin while the deck party was winding down, not wanting to miss AJ. He said he was going to come, so I wasn't about to miss that! Well, as the clock kept ticking away, there was no sign of AJ and my eyelids were super heavy. I was fighting to stay awake, but ultimately my body gave up. I just prayed that if and when AJ came, he would knock on our door and hopefully one of us would hear it.

Sadly, I woke up the next morning to the sound of the cruise director (or whoever it was) on the loudspeaker, which meant we had arrived back in Miami and were getting ready to leave the ship. Fortunately, the story doesn't quite end there.....