Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Recap 2016: Day 4 Part 2 (Sea Day)

Just to be Close to You: A Guinness World Record Attempt
Once the question and answer session was done then it was time for our Guinness world record attempt where they would find out how many nationalities would fit in the hot tub. All of the girls were pre-selected and were all brought up to the front of the stage and given numbers.

Now as an American you're going to have to let me rant for one quick second here. I understand they were going for a Guinness world record attempt but the reality is because the Backstreet Boys are from the US, no US fans were even eligible to participate in this event. Not a huge deal, enough time has past so I'm over it. But it definitely sucks they had an event where a good number of fans were ineligible to participate. Yes I know there are many unfair things about the Backstreet fandom, I suppose this is just another to add to the list. But its my blog so I get to voice my opinion :) I just think there could've other sorts of records that would've at least given everyone the chance to participate.

Anyway...This event was actually more fun than I thought it would be. They had fun Caribbean music playing (even though we weren't in the Caribbean this year). AJ and Nick actually both got in the hot tub which probably threw our numbers off a little bit. The other thing that surprised me is that the other back she boys did stick around to watch the events unfold. I just assume that only one of the boys would participate in the rest with the retreat back to the safety and comfort of their cabin.

Brian and Kevin watching the festivities

Overall I felt like there was a lot of energy on deck and it was actually quite official with a Guinness officiator, or whatever they're title might be. They had AJ and Nick getting the crowd pumped. I was initially torn if I would attend this event because I wanted to get ready for the preferred event, but I was happy that I stuck around.
AJ getting ready to get in the hot tub

Preferred Event
During this time slot those cruisers who bought the more expensive cabins had the opportunity to go to a 'preferred event'. There was no description of what this event would entail, so it was a complete surprise to everyone. Meanwhile the other half of the ship had the chance to go to a BSB trivia with Rose Tours. I'm still kinda bummed I missed that. From what I heard not many folks showed up but it sounded cool.

Since Rose Tours never did send a survey, I'm going to voice my honest opinion of this event here. I need to at least have the illusion that my opinion might be heard. 

What was Supposed to Happen
For those of you who missed the event, I suppose I should start with the general concept of the event. It opened with their manager Jen entering the room and informing us that it was going to be a "chill mingling" event. The fans would stay put and the boys would mingle around the room. Everyone wildly cheers! We're all excited and naively optimistic that this is what would actually happen.

What Really Happened
Sadly that concept fell apart REAL quick. Unfortunately many of the boys couldn't really leave the front stage because fans were crowding around. Nick was the only one who actually attempted to mingle around the room. And he's only 1 boy, so he didn't get too far. Thus I'd say the first 20 minutes or so people generally played by the rules. Brian sat up front talking to a crowd of people while the other boys starting mingling and sitting at tables with fans.

I'd say around the 20 minute mark is when things started to go down hill. The boys who were mingling SLOWLY moved from table to table, some hitting the same group of girls who already had a boy visit. Brian never moved from the front of the stage. Fans started approaching the boys and crowding the front area, asking for pictures thus making it even harder for the boys to mingle. By the end of the event, fans were frantically asking the boys for pictures and I'd say at least half the fans in the room didn't get to interact with any Backstreet Boy. And sadly it was the fans who played by the rules and patiently waiting who didn't get anything.

My Personal Experience
I had a seat in the back and I waited patiently for the first maybe 15 minutes sipping my champagne (though my friends will probably tell you I wasn't that patient :P). Once we got into the 20 minute mark and beyond...I realized how slow the boys were moving around the room. I'm kind of a numbers gal and I started doing the math in my head and realized that this wasn't working quite as well as they had hoped and previously indicated. So now I'm getting more anxious by the minute, but still try to wait a bit longer to see what will happen. 5-10 more minutes pass and Nick starts heading towards the back. I think to myself, 'Great!' I love me some Nick, so that would make me a happy camper. Sadly he veered off in the other direction before coming my way and my heart sinks.

Back to square one.

Around 30 minutes in I'm more than a little worked up having 0 interactions with any Backstreet Boy and watching other girls in the front having a grand ole time. I ask one of the staff how long the event is and he told me an hour and that the clock was ticking. At this point I give up on being polite and sadly resolve to being part of the problem. I still feel bad about it, but I suppose I've been to other events in the past where I patiently waited and end up leaving with nothing. In general I struggle to find the balance between being respectful and playing by the rules, but being assertive as well. There have been a few too many instances where I leaned more towards polite and left with nothing. I wasn't about to pay as much as we did for a suite and not get anything for it.

Brian had been chatting with a bunch of fans up front for a while so I thought if nothing else, I could at least sit near him and hear him talk and be part of that conversation. By the time I got up there he was pretty much done chatting and now having a loose sort of line to briefly chat with him and take pics. So I hop in line and scoot my way up to the front. I had a nice little moment with him where he asked how I was enjoying the cruise. I told him I was having a great time, and that I always do have a great time on the cruise, but the crowds were a little more intense than what I'm used to from past cruises. He gave me knowing look and said he agreed with me. I felt like we shared a moment haha

Me and Brian <3
After having my nice moment with Brian, I breathed a sigh of relief. At least I had some interaction with a Backstreet Boy. But there was still time left and I wanted to make the most of my time. Howie wasn't too far away and he was also chatting with a group of girls. Once again, I figured that it'd just be neat to eavesdrop into the conversation. He was talking to some girls about filming Dead 7, what that was like. I asked him if he would consider doing a sort of sequel (totally not considering that they all pretty much died in the movie. Oopsies) But hopefully he understood what I meant. He said that he'd be open to doing a movie again in the future but no immediate plans at the moment. When he was finished chatting with all the girls, he took a few pictures with the girls at the table so I grabbed a pic as well. I still inadvertently blocked him a bit. Oopsies again!
Me and Howito
There was still some time left in the event but it was clearly turning into a shit show at this point. Fans were really upset because the boys were starting to leave and many people didn't get any interaction at all, which made me incredibly grateful for what I got. It just shouldn't have played out the way it did. Period.

Suggestions for Next Time
I would actually love to see them try this event again (though I doubt they ever would because of the backlash on this one). I truly loved the IDEA of this event, it sadly just failed in execution. The key here is the event just needed a few logistical modifications to make things run smoother:

  • For starters they need to limit the number of people drastically. Maybe do Group A and Group B? There were simply too many fans in that room for the time allotted and only 5 backstreet boys. Something had to give.
  • I also think they should ban cameras from that event so that fans cant take pictures...make it 100% about the mingling. Unfortunately as soon as we see the boys are taking selfies, everyone wants pics and then there's no mingling. I'm just as guilty. I think they should just have Justin go around and snap candid pics for us instead.
  • The boys needed to spread out more. Since they all started in the front of the room, a few girls sitting up front had an amazing time because they had 3 backstreet boys visit. Meanwhile the fans on the side and in the back had no one. And sadly its the fans who played by the rules and patiently waited, ended up getting nothing. The other factor is that some of the boys *cough* Kevin *cough* sat and talked to the same group of girls for like 15-20 minutes. I know that's just Kevin being himself and I'm sure it was awesome for those girls (and I dont fault them at all!) But when there are a couple hundred fans in the room, it just doesn't work. I think staff should've helped manage the boys move around the room better.
  • One idea if they were to do this again, I almost envision the event like 'Backstreet Speed Dating'. Every fan has a chair and can't get up, perhaps in small groups at tables. But the idea that there is a set time limit of 5-7 minutes with each group of fans, and when times up, the bell dings, and the boy moves to the next group of fans. I think it would make it fair and eliminate a lot of the chaos we experienced this time around.
Many of my friends, myself included, bought a more expensive cabin JUST for this event..hence the high expectations and unfortunate general outrage when the event fell short. As I said, it was a great concept, as I think many people agreed. I was lucky and at least got a few quick interactions/pics. A lot of people I know essentially paid $1000 for a glass of champagne. I remain optimistic with a few logistical changes it could be a great event in the future.

Dead 7 Screening: Q&A
Before the screening, my roommate told me that she ran into Howie near our cabin door and apparently he complimented our door too. Eeek!! I wasn't even thinking about how the other boys would respond to the door, but that was super nice to hear :)

So I have been literally running from event event all day (not complaining by any means!) and there was still more excitement ahead, thus I continued my Backstreet marathon. Running across the entire length of the ship. Again.

Given I had already seen the movie, the idea that it was a "premier" and something new and special was slightly lost on me. I didn't feel the burning need to be there right when it started. But I understand why Nick wanted to do this event for his international fans who hadn't gotten a chance to see the movie yet. Of course as a Nick girl, you bet I still wouldn't miss this. Particularly because I wanted to hear the Q&A. 
I sadly missed the first couple of minutes, and they didn't skip a beat and were well underway in the Q&A. 

Nick making a funny face
Sidebar - just putting on my logistical hat, I honestly don't know why they had the Q&A BEFORE they showed the clip. Wouldn't it make more sense to see the clip and THEN ask questions? Or is that just too practical? So unfortunately the key when I was supershort I think it lasted no more than 10 minutes and I had missed the first few because I was still coming from the last event.

If you have 10 minutes to kill and want to watch (pretty much) the entire Q&A (minus the part I missed in the beginning), here you go:

Start at 7.48 for a funny story
My favorite part was when Nick shared one of his ideas about creating a movie based with the following premise:
  • Dark Comedy
  • Inspired by the Cruise
  • A fan kidnaps one of the Backstreet Boys, and according to Nick, "Let's just choose Howie"
  • Howie thinks the boys will save him
  • The Backstreet Boys hire someone like Liam Neeson to save Howie a la 'Taken'
  • The rest of the boys don't care and continue tour and figure out who to replace him with

The last thing I'll mention about this event, I was super duper close to getting picked to ask a question. I was able to capture the attention of the person walking around with a microphone and she was standing right next to me. She literally had the mic pointed in my direction and I was going to be next. However Nick decided to cut the event and put the movie on at that point. So close but so far! I can I can't be the only one who has these sorts of close calls with the boys right? Oh well no big deal but still a bummer.

Blackjack Tournament Finals 
I decided to go to dinner a little late because I wanted to watch the final blackjack tournament. I couldn't pass me up some AJ. As a bystander, I wasn't able to get super close to really see what was going on. But I still enjoyed just watching on and seeing AJ play with some fans.

AJ playing blackjack at the tournament finals

50 Shades of BSB Leather & Lace Deck Party
So one of the last or rather the last events of the cruise was leather and lace night. Queue the sad music that it was the last event :( The guys were running super late for this one and it was a shame because I was so tired. 4 days of chasing the Backstreet Boys around Europe was finally catching up to me. 

Sadly, once again they had to move the event inside due to rain. Which I understand is out of anyone's control. But deck parties are just not the same when they are inside. I was a couple stories up and waiting for the boys to arrive. Eventually I got tired of standing, so I sat down and leaned up against the chair. I remember closing my eyes and my roommate later would tell me that I fell asleep. I didn't think I did, but I don't doubt that it was true.

Me and my roommates waiting for the boys
The boys finally arrives in and entered to the famous Fifty Shades of Grey music. I was still at this point unsure what to expect and where the evening was going to take us. The guys were all on stage and bought a few lucky fans up to interact with the boys.

I just don't even know how to really explain this events if you weren't there but wowser.

Surprisingly AJ disappeared for the first little bit of this event. I would've assumed of all the Backstreet Boys he would've been the most involved and excited about this particular theme party. And on the flipside I thought Brian was more engaged than I thought he would be. This event was interesting for me because I honestly was uncomfortable at points. Even Kevin made a comment about saying that he was done. I enjoyed watching from a far and was just waiting for the boys to make their nightly rounds for selfies.

Door Decoration Contest
So around at some ungodly hour I was tired and wanted to go back to the cabin to just rest for a few moments. And when I went back to the cabin I noticed there was something on my bed. Well lo and behold it there was a note sitting beside 4 bags. The note read…

We won!!
I couldn't believe it we had one the door decoration contest!!! I was almost so happy that I didn't care how ridiculous this handwritten note signed by " - BSB - " was. Seriously though, this looked liked the cabin steward scrawled this out before sliding it under our door.

This was just the icing on the cake because I felt that I had already gotten my prize when AJ came to the door earlier in the cruise. I also felt really good about winning because I was able to showcase my strength as a fan - which is my creativity. Some people can sing, some can dance, some are artistic. I'd like to think I can be creative when I need to be.

Plus, it was very nice to be acknowledged. We did work really hard on that door and I personally think it was probably one of the best ones on the cruise. And just to clarify for any one out there we did not win the year prior.

So we ended up winning a little swag bag of goodies that included stuff that you found in the merch shop. It included a water bottle, a hat, a metal and the tote bag. Heck - it was probably worth $100 or so.

Now Im dying to go find my roommates and share the good news! I scamper back to the atrium and I was able to find a few of them. I casually just slip them over the note and I enjoyed seeing their reaction. So we were all very excited to win!

Later that evening my cabin mates and I found ourselves near AJ as he was making his rounds. I already felt like I had more than enough pictures with AJ but given that we just found out that we won, we thought it would be nice to close out the cruise and just thank him again if we had that opportunity.

As even more AJ luck would have it, we did get the chance to not only get a picture with him but also let him know that we won and we wanted to thank him for picking us as the winners. He exclaimed 'how could it be anyone else.' It was very nice to have that last moment with AJ. That was the perfect way to end the cruise in my mind.

Me and masked AJ

AJ signed our winning notice
So at this point in the evening the crowds are starting to dwindle and the boys were peeling off one by one. I was desperately not wanting the night to end. Brian must've heard my inner dialogue because not soon after AJ left, Brian made his way around the corner. I don't recall saying a lot to him but I was able to get my final pic of the cruise.

My final pic of the cruise

We knew we had an early morning ahead of us and we wanted a few hours of sleep. The next morning we left the ship bright and early. The interesting thing that I would later realize is that the boys actually left after the majority of the cruisers debarked. Typically on Carnival cruises they've historically always been the first off the ship. I have to admit I really did want to get one last glimpse of the boys before I left, but sadly we wanted to get to the hotel. 

Post Cruise
Oh I feel like stepping back onto land after a backstreet boy cruises just such an indescribable feeling. It's just a mix of every emotion you can possibly experience at once. I'm sad that such an amazing event is over. I'm sad that something that I had been looking forward to for over a year had finally come to an end. I'm upset that I won't get to see some of my friends in a long time most likely until the next cruise in some cases. I'm happy for all of the amazing experiences that I was so fortunate to have had. Happy for all the pictures, seeing all my friends, making new memories. I'm physically and emotionally exhausted. In a weird way I'm also relieved that I can finally get sleep and give my body some rest.

There's just no other feeling like leaving a BSB cruise.

Overall this was a good cruise for me and I made a lot of great memories. I'm so glad I was able to go on my FIFTH backstreet cruise and experience my first European BSB cruise. Yikes, i'm still in disbelief over the fact that I've been on 5 Backstreet cruises. I never thought in a million years I'd be so fortunate.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Recap 2016: Day 4 Part 1 (Sea Day)

The last day of this cruise was bittersweet because it's sad knowing the trip is coming to an end, but we had an action-packed day ahead of us.

Blackjack Tournament
There was barely time to eat breakfast this morning because I had to wake up to try my luck at blackjack with AJ. I was pretty excited about playing since the I did quite well last time and shockingly made it into the finals to play with Howie. So I definitely went in with confidence this time around perhaps a little too much confidence though.

I knew I would be back to back all day with a lot of fun events, which didn't really give me time to grab breakfast. So me in my fangirl brain decided to bring my breakfast down to the casino where I hunched over a slot machine to eat my eggs. I was totally getting weird looks from the dealers but I didn't care because some times we all do crazy things for BSB. 

I tried studying how the rounds were going and trying to pick up any tips or hints that would help. No sooner than I finished up my breakfast it was my turn to take a seat in the go for broke. So just like last time, it was seven hands and you were competing against everyone who was participating in the tournament. The top six players with then go on to play with AJ. So before my round was going I looked at leaderboard and knew where I had to be. It seemed doable at that point in the day but I also knew I had to shoot a little higher to make sure I would hold my spot. 

Unfortunately by the end of the second hand, I knew it was a lost cause which was really an upsetting feeling. I think my optimism and luck from last year made me think I could actually stand a chance but unfortunately I just didn't get the cards this year. There was one glimmer of hope that I still had and that was they would let you do a re-buy. So for those of you who might not be aware, a re-buy is when they'll let you pay another fee to try one more time. I was torn because I knew that the events on the pool deck we're going to be start starting very soon but at that same time might I knew it was feasible for me to actually have a chance to play with AJ and its something I really wanted.

I was waiting for what felt like eternity before I finally got my chance to play. Real Caribbean was definitely more strict than Carnival was a last year. During the past cruises on carnival they were a lot more lax when it came to these tournaments. You could practically come and go as you wanted. But nonetheless I wanted to play blackjack with AJ so I sat and waited not so patiently for my name to be called. Finally I heard my name called so I headed toward my seat at the table and prayed for better car cards this round. While I did do a lot better it sadly still wasn't quite enough to hit the leaderboard. Boo!

Friday Tease with AJ
So by the time my seven hands were over, AJ's event was getting ready to start up on the pool deck real soon so I bolted upstairs to see what kind of spot I could get. Surprisingly I was able to get kind of near the front of the stage Sean a few rows back which I was content with him considering I was running so late. I was super excited to see all of the solo events I think it's such a great chance for each of the boys to shine in their own spotlight.

Before we got our Friday tease, we actually had a little tease with Kevin. Mr. Perfectionist wanted to come up and do a soundcheck (surprise, surprise). It was quite endearing to see how nervous he seemed. You'd think someone who has been in the business as long as he has wouldn't be that nervous. Heck, even AJ and Brian both brought it up during their solo events.

So anyway, AJ was up first though many of us thought Brian was going to be first. No complaints from me! AJ explains that his Friday tease was going to be him singing songs off his new solo album he told us the release date was going to be in September if 2016 (which has obviously long and come and gone with no sign of any album). I swear AJ needs to finish a project. I love that man but he needs to actually finish something he starts because I keep getting my hopes up. One day I'll learn. Granted I can't stay mad at this face for too long...

AJ shared some stories about his new album as well as some of the songs off the album. I was so delighted to hear him sing you a good six or seven songs. They were all really fast and upbeat/ I think the major tone throughout all of those song's is that they were quite sexual in nature and some a little inappropriate. But of course I wouldn't expect anything else from AJ. I think one of my favorites was the title track, Naked. As he explains below, its about being vulnerable and exposed.

AJ performing the title track, Naked

He also sang 'Shot', 'Thousand Times (Billionaire)', 'Get On It', 'Love This' and 'Live Together'. You also have to remember that this was AJs first cruise solo events. In 2013 when he was supposed to do a solo event it got canceled due to rain. I really enjoyed seeing him in his element - shining apart from the rest of the boys. The other awesome part is that we got to hear brand new songs that have never been heard before. So all in all I really enjoyed AJ's event. Great songs, good vibe, and great way to kick off kind of the parade of solo events, if you well.
Feed the Body & Soul with the Littrells
The next boy to take the stage was Brian and of course he could not do his event without Leighanne by his side.

I love that Leighanne is wearing a BSB hat :)

This event was very 'Brian'. Fun but still a little different than I was anticipating. I was expecting a more lighthearted events with cooking stories and of course some of the poems that were submitted.

So I'll be honest I did submit a poem and I thought it was quite good if I do say so myself. I'm debating if I want to post it here so at least it wasn't written in vain.

Apparently the winners were notified on board because they had such a tough time narrowing down the list. And knowing that the winners were still not announced when we boarded gave me some hope. However after hearing all of the poems that were read throughout this event it seem like mine was not in the direction that Brian was clearly going for. I just figured on a cruise that they wanted something more lighthearted and fun so my poem went with more of a lighthearted tone. 

Some of the poems that were read during the event were more serious and actually quite sad. I think the fans' stories were very touching. Though I suppose if I was in charge of the event I would have probably gone for a more lighthearted tone. I just think in those sorts of situations, sitting around the pool, you want to laugh and have a good time. So again nothing against the fans with their stories, but perhaps I just wasn't in the mood to shed some tears.

Picture of Brian, just because
Aside from the poems, Brian and Leighanne shared stories while the Royal Caribbean chef made some breakfast omelettes. I feel like I've heard Brian talk about these breakfast omelettes before so it's kind of cool to see him prepare them and learn how they both liked to cook on the tour bus. I think I was hoping for him to share more stories like that because I like getting little glimpses into their worlds and hearing new things that I don't already know.

The other fun anecdote that they shared was how he and Leighanne play this thing called the song game. It's cute because they really try to incorporate songs into their conversations. I suppose looking back at their interactions and just how Brian carries himself on stage I kind of see where this song game fits into his personality. Just because he's always singing something and turning an answer into song.

Brian explaining his 'Song Game' with Leighanne

At one point during the event Brian came into the audience to feed a few lucky fan some of his breakfast omelette. I was super close probably, maybe an arm's-length away from him. It was one of those scenarios where I was so close but so far. So even though I didn't get a bite of his burrito, I still got up close and personal with Brian which is good enough for me! Overall I enjoyed this event. I liked all the different pieces of it I think I was just hoping for more stories. But I think the nice thing about the event is that it suited Brian's personality quite well.

One on One with Kevvy Kev
Kev was up next for his duet events. I cannot sing to save my life so I did not enter this particular contest. However one of my good friends, Lalie, not only entered but also won! So I was super excited for this event not only to see Kevin sing, but also to see my friends up there and have her moment with Kevin.

Serious Kev

Singing Kev
I thought this event was really fun I think the fans that were picked were all really super talented. I really enjoyed Kevin's solo event from last time and I think this event was just as great. We don't get to see Kevin shine as much as some of the other boy it's so nice to see him have his moment and really get a chance to hear him sing.

One by one all of the fans went up and sang their songs. He sang everything from Grease Lightning to Danny's Song. Maybe I'm biased because she's my friend,but my favorite was Lalie singing with Kevin, A Whole New World. Kevin get a little choked up as he reminisced about his days playing Aladdin at Disney World. I think what was so fun about this particular song is it mixes my love of the Backstreet Boys and Disney. So with that - I'll leave this video here for you to watch.

A Whole New World

Another cool thing is that Lalie was able to share with me a little bit of the behind the scenes that went into putting on this event. She was notified in advance via email that she was selected to sing with Kevin. She then got to select a few song options and Kevin chose which he preferred. And the most exciting part - they got to rehearse together on board prior to this actual event.

So again, overall I really liked this event because so it was different, but still played well to Kevin's talents. I also like that he did little anecdotes in between the songs. I think my only minor minor criticism is that it felt a little bit long to me. I think it would've been perfect if it was maybe one or two songs of shorter. The main reason I say this is because I think the Q&A got shortened as a result of Kevin's event running long. If this was the only event of the day - then yeah, I would've listened to song after song! But if forced to pick - I would've rather seen more of the Q&A.

BSB Behind the Scenes (AKA Q&A)
So at this point I've been standing by this pool deck all day I haven't gone to the bathroom nor I have an eaten since my breakfast that I scarfed down in the casino. I was definitely starting to get tired but again those comfort come secondary when you're on a BSB cruise.

So the next event was all the boys coming up on stage for the Q and a. This is always a favorite event of mine and it just never seems to get old. All the fans submit their questions prior to boarding and I really like that aspect because it vets some of the bad questions that tend to get asked at a sound 

check party for example. I also find the questions are generally really unique.

So for this particular event I think it went to about 25 minutes. I again I really hoped for a little bit longer. Here's a cliff notes of the Q&A:

The boys during the Q&A
  •  Which TV character are you most similar to?
    • AJ - Chandler Bing. 
    • Howie - Speedy Gonzalez
    • Nick - John Snow
    • Kev - Gomer Pyle
    • Brian - Rosco P Coltrane
  • Why does Backstreet time exist? 
    • Everyone points at Kevin
    • Kevin then explains that back in the day how they had a photo shoot at 4:00 in the morning, had to wait 3 hours for them to get set up, and he learned quickly. Its 'hurry up and wait'.
    • Other guys then continue to throw Kev under the boss
    • Nick, "If Kevin can do it, so can I"
    • Nick had to pay more than $30,000 in self-imposed 'late fees'
  • Most emotional moment on stage?
    • AJ - Announcing he was going to be a father in London during the NKOTBSB tour. Close second is during the cruise concerts
    • Howie - Hollywood walk of fame. Though i recall Howie was the only one who visibly wasn't choked up
    • Nick - "Oh, I have to answer this?" Tells a story about AJ falling through the stage.
    • Kevin - "There are so many for me" True story, Kev. True story. But he shared a fathers day in Cincinnati where AJ surprised him on stage with a video from his kids. 
    • Brian - Lexington on the Millennium tour singing the Perfect Fan with his mom
  • Best part of cruising?
    • AJ - "You"
    • Howie - "The best thing about cruising is boozing"
    • Nick - No sleep.
    • Kevin - Getting to go to exotic places all over the world. Partying on the private yacht.
      Brian -  The experience - the costumes, the parties, the friends, the yachts... the ass-grabbing. 
  • Who has the biggest package? 
    •  AJ - I think we're all doing pretty damn good. Of course we were going to get the politically correct answer.
    • Nick - I have big balls. Like I do a lot of things. *Shakes head.*
  • What have you said to your wife that resulted in you sleeping on the couch?
    • AJ - Called Rochelle by the wrong name.
    • Howie - He shared a story about James drawing something like 'Mommy's favorite place to sleep is the guest room.'
    • Nick - I've never had to sleep in the other room. I just go back and apologize because women are always right!
    • Kevin - Nothing
    • Brian - He gets selfish sometimes and gets on his high horse which has caused him to sleep on the sofa
  • What habits of each other bug the shit out of you?
    • Howie - Everything.... "I'm perfect"
    • AJ - He picks his fingers a lot. 
Nick - My smelly gas.
    • Then AJ elaborated that he blows ass all the time during meet & greets.
  • Keeping it spicy on the road with your wife?
    • Brian - Photos. I'm kinda surprised with this one.
    • AJ - We used to do pictures but now its hard to find time to find that narrow window when Ava is asleep. He also likes Rochelle to wear a red nightie
    • Nick - Watch porn together. He tells her what to watch. Ummm, alright then.
Kevin - "No Nakedness over the Interwaves"
    • Kevin - He doesn't trust technology so instead he has "interesting conversations" with his wife
  • Biggest Regret
    • Howie - For the Millennium tour they were offered stadiums but Brian wanted to stick with arenas 
AJ - Recording If You Want it To Be Good Girl
    • AJ- And not taking action against Lou Pearlman earlier
    • Brian - Not suing that bastard sooner
    • Nick - None
    • Kevin - We had the opportunity to meet the pope and Howie wanted to go but we declined. Howie then shared a story about getting Wayne Gretzky's autograph and signed hockey stick from the all star game. Brian wanted it all these years and the only way he'll give it to Brian is they would trade for the pope stick.
  • What is the group dynamic?
    • Kevin - We all have our disagreements, usually over creative differences
    • AJ- We've all laughed and cried together. We're a family, not just a group that was put together.

      AJ- "We live, eat, breath and shit one another. We're family"
  • What your favorite song to perform?
    • Nick - Straight Through My Heart. It's becoming the Get Another Boyfriend from AJ.
    • AJ- Get Another Boyfriend
    • Howie - All I Have to Give. But I get nervous doing that hat routine because I drop that hat.
    • AJ - He said it warms his heart when we started going nuts over hearing the first few notes of a song. Aww i love this answer! It came across so genuine to me.
    • Kevin - He likes songs that have a lot of harmonies like Drowning
    • Brian - He wants to bring back Darling. He also wants to switch the set up from night to night.
And so ends another successful Q&A. I know I've already said it, but I love this event!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Recap 2016: Day 3 (Italy)

Today started by waking up in beautiful Italia around 6:30am. Though I should caveat, my roommate was the unlucky one who had to wake up that early for an 8am excursion. Fortunately, I had seen Pisa a few years ago, so I went right back to bed.

I woke up probably a good 5 hours after that. But watching her have to wake up an hour after she went to bed, it just occurred to me how having these sorts of action-packed ports were not at all conducive to a Backstreet cruise. The boys are up until the wee hours of the night partying, but then they expect people to get up for an 8am excursion if they want any chance at all to see the sites? Great in theory, but I don't think it works.

Because I decided to get some beauty rest and sleep-in, most of my friends were already off the ship getting their gelato on, or whatever else it is they were doing in Italy. So I ventured off the ship hoping to run into someone I knew and explore the port. Maybe go to Pisa. Maybe just get some pizza and head back. I honestly didn't have a plan and I liked it that way!

I get off the ship and learned the only way into the downtown area was via a shuttle where we had no choice but to pay €5. Not a huge deal, but I think some fans (and even Rose Tour staff) were a little peeved about that. Not everyone has the cash handy.

When I arrive in Livorno I run into a few good friends right there in the main square. Perfecto! Couldn't plan it better if I tried. We were toying with the idea of going to Pisa but it looks like we were a little too late because there wasn't enough time to go, do the site, and come back in time before the ship leaves.

So instead we just walk around town, go into some shops, get gelato, etc. Nice and low key, which is just what I needed amid the craziness of a BSB cruise.

Me and Cort enjoying some gelato

Mix It Up with Howie D
I haven't seen a Backstreet Boy in over 15 hours (unacceptable on a BSB cruise) so I was excited and ready for some Howie D!!! I loved his solo event last year so I was really excited to see what he came up with this year.

When Howie came out he explained that his event would be all about drinks. Not really my cup of tea, but it involves Howie, so I'm there.

"Are you guys sober. Well I am and I'm ready to drink!"
"I didn't wake up until 2:30 and I'm very thirsty. It's too long for my body not to have a little bit of  alcohol in it."
Oh Howie, if you were anyone else I'd probably think you're an alcoholic.

This event basically consisted of a Carnival staff member showcasing his drink making skills while Howie attempted some of his goofy jokes and antics. In my opinion it sorta worked. I don't know that Howie has a bold enough personality to carry an event like this. I think the Carnival guy almost overshadowed him (don't hate me!). Here's a few minutes for your viewing pleasure:

This is How-ie Do it!

The second half of the event was watching Howie play beer pong with a couple of fans. In my opinion, this was great for the few fans who got to play with him, but it didn't really translate into a spectator sport. It would've been alright for like 5 minutes, but it just went way too long. I wanted to see Howie more engaged with the crowd but he was more focused on the game.

Maybe I'm just becoming more jaded and cynical as I go on more of these cruises. I don't mean to come across all negative. I swear! I think he just set the bar really high from his last solo event.

After Howie's event I went and actually enjoyed the balcony in my cabin that I paid an arm and a leg for. Did the whole dinner thing. And next on the part of the cruise!!

Show Em What You're Made of Acoustic Concert
I just don't even know where to start with this because no matter what I write up, will not capture the magnificence that was this concert. It was absolutely amazing from start to finish. I LOVE that they did an acoustic set and I LOVE that they only sang 2 singles. I LOVE that they finally understood that the fans on the cruise don't need to hear I Want it That Way. We're super fans and want to hear the rare gems.

Best setlist ever.

This concert was phenomenal. I wish they did more concerts like this. Here are some of my favorite moments:

  • The boys entered the concert by walking down the aisle and Brian was just an arm-lengths away as he walked by. Gosh, it really never does get old.
    So close to Brian!
  • Let's Have a Party - Oh my gosh, AJ rapping his part brought me so much joy! I wish I could've had the homecoming video playing side by side.
  • Just to be Close to You- Geez, another oldie but goodie. At this point its feeling even more like the Homecoming concert. Super special to hear this one live.

  • Darlin - Brian was the first to sing his solo. I know it can't just be me - I still get a little nervous about Brian's voice. But as he finished up the last notes of this song, we all got a little emotional. He's still got it!!

  • Don't Wanna Lose You Now - AJ prefaces this song by getting the crowd riled up asking if we'd want the Millennium 2.0 tour. That would be amazing!! But the song itself was simply beautiful! Reminds me how much I love the Millennium album.
  • Safest Place to Hide - It's by this point in the set that I'm actually comprehending how amazing of a show this is because there's no singles. Highlight: Kev gets choked up singing his part. I suppose that's not really a highlight, but I still felt the need to mention it. Mainly because after the song Howie joked that he was crying in his hotel room in Barcelona as he practiced the songs with his wife. At which point he said Kevin is channeling himself in Howie. More funny banter ensues. Feel free to check it out here along with Nick's beautiful rendition of 'I Got You'.

    I Got You
  • I Got You - Aaack my favorite Nick song!! I was super excited. It was super nice to hear this song with the rest of the boys singing backup vocals. We also found out that Max Martin initially recorded this song about his child. Thus Nick shared the song now has new meaning for him. And that's your Backstreet fun fact of the day!

  • Get Another Boyfriend- I don't know how AJ gets outvoted every tour and this one can't make the setlist,!! Sorry I'm clearly run out of adjectives to describe these songs, but 'amazing' just works so well. They sang the 'Good G-d!' part and put a cool breakdown in the middle. Definitely a cool rendition.
  • Drowning- I enjoyed their intro to this. Mainly because they were just joking around. Howie tried beatboxing and AJ lovingly teased him. Then they tore apart their first Drowning music video (though I don't know why they hating on it. I enjoyed Spider boy AJ).

    Drowning and Back to your Heart
  • Back to Your Heart - So happy this one made the setlist. I love, love this song. And Kev did a great job with it even getting choked up multiple times. But I love how they changed it up just enough to make it interesting but not losing the initial integrity of the song.
  • Siberia- This was oddly my least favorite. Only because I feel like I've heard it plenty of times at various soundcheck parties, etc. Nonetheless, it was a beautiful rendition. All I'm saying is if I picked the setlist, I would've chosen another song here that I don't get to hear as often.
  • Spanish Eyes - This was my favorite song of the evening. I thought Howie's intro to the song was endearing. He joked that it was hard to pick a song in his extensive catalogue of solo hits with BSB. Awww Howito! I also found myself tearing up a little bit during the song. It was just so beautiful!

    Spanish Eyes
  • Just Want You to Know- I'm so happy that AJ told us to all stand up. I was ready to get on my feet and jam out. Too bad they didn't whip out the Spandex though.
  • Incomplete- I was actually okay with this single making the cut because I adore AJs opening in this song and they killed the acoustic version.
  • Lay Down Beside Me - The entire song was me repeating "Please let AJ hump the floor. Please let AJ hump the floor." I really just wanted to see him recreate that iconic moment. I heard he did it for Group A but sadly Group B wasn't quite as lucky.
  • Everybody- Perfect way to end the show! Though of course I didn't want it to end.
Acoustic Concert
I think the concert was the highlight of the cruise for many people. I wish I could articulate why it was just so meaningful. There was just something extra special hearing the boys sing these songs that they haven't sung live in probably 20 years. It was almost like things were coming full circle. Being there transported me back to 1999 when I was an awkward teen watching the Homecoming VHS tape on repeat dreaming of the day I'd get to meet the Backstreet Boys in person. Fast forward 17 years later - I've grown a lot. The 'boys' have grown a lot. This concert was almost like a time capsule that really demonstrated how far we've come and how far the boys have come. Whenever they're asked to describe a show, they will say "It's a trip down memory lane". But this concert in particular really was for the die-hard fans who have been there since the beginning and haven't left.

Casino Royale Night
After the concert I was coming off a high and ready for Casino Royale Night. Sadly this night got rained out and we had to move inside...again. Seriously why do we have such bad luck!? Thus we all crowded into the atrium and I decided to go no where near the front. Not worth it after my experience from the first night.

The boys arrived looking dapper as heck to James Bond music. 

Boys. Backstreet Boys.

Credit to

Once again the boys started off with everyone on stage and their brief introduction. The DJ got the music going and the boys quickly dispersed throughout the atrium to start their nightly mingling. Thus I assess the situation. 3 of the guys were down in the mosh pit and AJ had a nice orderly line. At this point I legit feel bad 'bugging' AJ again and trying to get another moment. But it was either wait in a nice line or deal with a mosh put. I opted for the line.

Before long I made my way to the front and had a nice quick interaction/hug with AJ. Sadly they're all blurring together so I don't remember specifically what was said. Though I guarantee it was delightful :)

Candid of me and AJ

Me and AJ during Casino Royale Night
Later that evening I saw that Kevin form a line for pictures. In case you can't tell, I'm a big fan of the lines! He seemed to be having fun and doing his typical Kevin routine. He'll dance in between chatting with girls and seems to take the time with each person. I could tell he had been drinking and was having a good time. He was pretty quiet with me, which is fine. He leaned in for the pic and this is the magic that was captured:

Me and Kev
Once the party died down, I went up to check out the club scene (which in real life is totally not my scene!) But given that a few of the boys were supposedly up there, I wanted to at least go check it out.

In a nutshell the post-party consisted of:
  • Howie DJing with a tiny crowd of girls surrounding him. Leigh was also partying with him.
  • A roped off VIP area where Nick was hanging out/mingling/taking pics, etc
  • Alongside the rope were a bunch of fans trying to get access to the other side of the rope
  • At one point Kevin showed up and took some pics with fans but didn't stay super long
I didn't have any success interacting with the guys, but I wasn't super focused on it that night. I was content hanging out with my friends until the wee hours of the morning (aka like 5 or 6). I just remember being super  hungry and thinking if I just waited a little longer breakfast would be served :P I honestly haven't been up this late on a Backstreet cruise in quite some time! I think the time change was working in my favor as well as the boys favor. Eventually I decided to retire because I knew the next day was going to be a long one!

My friend, Lucy, and I in the club

Friday, July 29, 2016

Recap 2016: Day 2 (Cannes)

Waking up the second day of the Backstreet Boy cruise was the weirdest experience. You know why?

I was able to sleep in!

Hallelujah. The first time in the history of Backstreet Boy cruises I didn't have to set an alarm. Granted that was because I wasn't doing any excursions, but I was really okay with that. There wasn't anything I was dying to see there, I just wanted to leisurely take my time in getting up. And boy was it glorious.


After grabbing a quick breakfast, I ventured off the ship into the bustling city of Cannes during its most exciting time of year - the Cannes Film Festival. I was immediately taken by all the red carpets and important looking people with badges and cameras. I kept hoping I would catch a glimpse of a movie star, but sadly, I did not.

Me and the gang in Cannes
I spent most of the late morning/early afternoon just exploring the town by foot. At one point we decided to stop and take a carousel ride, because, well I'm a grown up and don't have to explain!

Me and Chrissy on a Carousel
After a couple of hours of exploring we decided to turn around and find a little cafe to grab pastries and drinks. Well on the way back I noticed Justin and Jenn walking on the other side of the street. Then behind them I noticed Nick...then Kevin...then Howie. Eeek! I swear my reaction was that as if I wasn't on a Backstreet cruise and like I randomly noticed the Backstreet Boys on the street.

Now I admit, I was tempted to dart across traffic and risk my safety to go say 'hi', but I quickly remembered (or rather my friends kindly pointed out) that this was their downtime and we should let them do their thing. As much as my heart was pulling me across the street, the better part of reasoning agreed with them so I just enjoyed the view, watching them explore the streets of Cannes.

Justin may have taken this pic, but I swear I was on the other side of the road not too long after this was taken.

The boys exploring Cannes

The interesting thing here,  all the other 'Non-Cruisers' were walking past them and clearly had no idea who they were. That still amazes me. I'm like 'HELLO - Its the Backstreet Boys. Why are you not freaking out like I am!?' haha

After our Backstreet run-in, we found our little cafe and I enjoyed some pastries and a beautiful view of Cannes.

Enjoying some delicious pastries in France. Yum!

Photo Session
We had to get back to the ship at a decent hour so we could start getting ready for our official picture with the boys. We have 4 girls in 1 cabin with 1 bathroom. It takes time and coordination!

So I've been super duper fortunate over the last several years to have had the opportunity to meet the boys on numerous occasions, yet it still never gets old. The butterflies still don't disappear as I wait in that line that wrapped the length of the ship. The same thoughts pop through my head "Do I look okay?" "Do I have anything in my teeth?" "What do I say" "Holy crap I'm meeting the Backstreet Boys"

Random picture of me waiting to take a picture. Gotta love the irony.

Once I got closer to the front of the line, I saw how good the boys were looking in their sailor suits. Yum! This is one of those things that will never get old! My cabinmates and I work so well together because we all have different favorite boys. We have a Brian girl, AJ girl, Kevin girl, and me - the lonely Nick girl (believe it or not!). I really am fortunate to have no Nick competition. Though to be honest, at this point I really couldn't care less who I stand next to.

When it was finally time for our meet & greet...damn it goes by fast! I briefly said hi to all the boys and gave them quick hugs. Surprisingly the only one who really engaged me in a "conversation" (and I use the term loosely) was Nick. He asked me if I was having a good time. I think I muttered out "of course!". But who really knows what sort of nonsense I said. For crying out loud - it was Nick Carter in a sailor suit!

I know these photo ops go super quick, but it was still very enjoyable, as always. I'm also happy with how our picture came out :)
Nick and Kevin sandwich!

Next up was dinner. It proved to be a nice time to sit and relax with my all my friends. Pour over all of our stories from the day and analyze every little interaction and event. After dinner I was just too tempted and wanted to go press my ear against the theater to see if I could hear the other concert going on. And sure enough, I wasn't the only one with that thought. Even though I couldn't be in there to enjoy the concert, it was still nice listening to a few songs from outside. I tore myself away from the door after hearing maybe 4 songs because I didn't want to spoil any more. Just from the little pieces I did hear, I knew this was going to be an AMAZING concert!!

Before long, it was time to get ready for 'Night at the Cinema'!!

Night at the Cinema
So my roommates and I wanted to do a group costume and we came up with the idea to go as the cast of Inside Out. I picked last and got assigned 'Anger', which is very NOT me. But it was still fun to play the part.

My roommates as the cast of Inside Out (sans Fear)
We found ourselves a spot upstairs and away from the mob pit, as I already got my fill of pushing the night prior. Of course after a long wait made even longer with Backstreet time, the boys finally emerged.....

May the Backstreet Boys be With You (Sorry, I couldn't help myself)
I'm not super into Star Wars, but thought it was a fun theme. I loved how Nick apparently drew the short straw again and somehow got assigned as Princess Leia. I'm really starting to wonder if he's actually volunteering to dress as a woman.

As far as deck parties go - they did their typical spiels. AJ brought some fans on stage to do some 'real dancing'. Nick was also very engaged that night on the stage.

This deck party had to be my favorite. It was the only one we had outside and I just felt so much energy from the guys and the fans. I loved all the costumes because I think the fans were really creative and seemed to have a lot of fun with it. I enjoyed spotting my favorite movie characters from across the pool deck. Just overall I had a really great time.

See, Brian's having a great time too :)

My Night of AJ

Hopefully I've intrigued you enough with my subheading here, but I swear the rest of the night was all about AJ. Nick, Brian, Howie, Kevin who??

As the deck party went on, I found myself letting my guard down and not worrying so much about hunting the boys down for a picture. But I swear no sooner than that thought crossed my head AJ was heading upstairs right my direction. Well, shoot. If he's coming right towards me you bet I'm going to try and get a picture. He stayed and did a good number of pictures and I inched my way closer and closer. Then the dreaded words, "Sorry guys, I gotta go."

So close but so far
Blah. Just got my hopes up and off he goes. But before he runs off he says, "Don't worry, I'll come back. And you know me; I mean that." This is true. He is probably the best doing pictures with fans so I reluctantly watch as AJ runs across the deck.

After that adrenaline burst, I shift gears and get back into the party. More singing, dancing, and having fun with my roommate, Cory. The usual deck party drill. Then I ran into another friend and...well yadda yadda yadda, my friend and I ended up getting a wristband into VIP.

Yes, I know. I yadda yaddaed the best part. Just want to thank my friend for that hookup!

Any who...Cory and I decide to go check out the VIP area. I wanted to see what the deal was because in years past they had free drinks so it was worth investigating. Well what we got ended up being better than free drinks, we got AJ! I just had to chuckle because I just can't seem to get away from him (not that I'm complaining!)

It was very chill in that VIP area because there weren't that many fans there. We were able to have a brief chat with AJ and take our pictures.

Anger (AKA me) and AJ
 After the pictures, he's still chatting with us but we see him taking his shoes off. Of course I'm thinking to myself, uh AJ, why the heck are you taking your shoes off? And almost as if he heard my thoughts, he told us that he was about to go jump in the pool. Then we tease him that the shoes are of course the most important thing he can't get wet. We all know AJ loves his sneakers.

Now Cory and I are in prime spot to and get ready to watch AJ jump in the pool.

AJ jumping in the pool

Oh gosh, I felt so bad for AJ because I was super cold without being soaking wet, and now he must be freezing and keeps getting stopped to take pictures.

At this point Cory and I are ready for a break and head to the buffet to grab a snack attack around 2:30. Got to eat when you can because the buffet closed at 3. We're just relaxing and eating and then we hear AJ come over the intercom...

Um AJ, why are you telling us good night, but then want us to go out and party?

Ding, goes the intercom again.

Good, AJ realized his mistake.

Folks, I've been wanting the boys to make announcements on the PA system since before the concept of a Backstreet cruise even existed. I write that suggestion every year on my surveys so I was super excited that they finally listened!!

My Night of AJ Continues
Next I decided that since it was so cold out, I wanted to go down to the cabin for a few minutes, grab a sweatshirt, hit the little girls room, and just rest a bit before going back to the deck party. So Cory and I head to our room and do just that. 

When we get there we notice that the cabin steward made up our bed wrong and only set the room for 3 of us instead of 4. I felt awful having to call them so early in the morning, but what else are we supposed to do? So we call them and they said they'll send someone up shortly to fix our room. Ok, cool. No biggie. Problem solved.

I'd say about 5 minutes later Cory and I hear some rustling outside our door so we assume its the cabin steward coming to fix our room. Thus Cory opens the door to let her in and it wasn't the cabin steward. 

IT WAS FREAKIN AJ!!!!! *#&^@Q(&

At this point, I can't even. I just can't even. That moment was so surreal, I can't even put into words. I had been dreaming up this moment in my head for the past 3 years since I initially came up with the concept of doing a Friends themed door. And there he was, looking at the door. It was a mix of shock and pure happiness. I'll never forget that moment when I saw AJ in our doorway.

So AJ is hunched over the door reading our episode, side by sides. And he said, "This wasn't here last year, was it?"

I start to freak out again!! That means he remembered our door from last year and must've seen it, even though I really didn't think he ever got to make it. The fact that we actually had those episodes on our door last year is moot, I wasn't about to correct him.

Stealth shot of AJ chatting with us
We get chatting for probably a good 5-10 minutes. All the while I'm trying to keep my composure. He starts off by telling us about the announcement he just made on the intercom. He said he felt so bad because he meant to just wake up the cabins, and that's what he instructed the crew to do. But apparently it woke up the entire ship, including the crew quarters and the captain. I could tell he felt really bad about it. But hell, I enjoyed it!
We continue chatting, mostly about the show Friends. He asked us if we had a chance to go to that Central Perk pop-up shop, which sadly, I had not. He then launched into this really touching monologue about how much the show means to him and his wife and that it's really a bonding element. It wasn't necessarily new information to me, but very touching and it felt like an intimate moment between the 3 of us as he opened up. 

Stealth shot #2
At one point during the conversation the cabin steward we called comes and interrupts us. I was literally so flustered and couldn't think straight so I asked her to come back. And then I paused for a moment and realized its 3am and this poor woman probably had to wake up to come fix this, so then we let her in the room. I was not thinking straight. But really - what crummy timing!

Apologies, my memory is so blurry on this, but at some point later in the conversation he stops us and asks if he can take a picture with the door. Oh gee, let me think on that....OF COURSE!!

Me trying to get a pic of AJ with our door
So he whips out his own phone. Let me repeat. His own phone! Seriously, I'm already dying. He's trying to kill me! So he takes a picture of just himself in front of our door with his phone. Then he takes one with Cory and I, on his phone. I don't even know how I had the faculties to ask for a picture on my camera....but thank goodness I did. 

I'll Be There For You

There were other fans in the hallway and they were super respectful and let us have our time (thank you if you're reading this!! Also, if you have any pics that would be super cool haha) but then AJ continued on to chat with other fans. 

Meanwhile Jen stayed and looked more at our door so we got chatting with her a bit. Which was another great conversation. We talked for a bit about Friends but then that segued into reality TV since I know she's a big reality fan. And then we moved into talking about the cruise and honestly, anytime you can get feedback to the person that matters - its great. So I totally took advantage. 

She basically shared and echoed everything I was thinking about the cruise. She said she loves planning these cruises, its her favorite part of the job. She said it was great to have the extra day (amen, sister!) but felt a lot more cramped on this ship. Apparently there are a lot less open spaces. She acknowledged the lido deck wasn't great for the cruise because there wasn't a lot of room. She said Royal Caribbean is 10x nicer but ultimately Carnival is a party ship.

Mind you, AJ is still a few feet away talking with other fans. He does a U-turn and heads past our room again. He gives Cory and I a high-five, once again tells us he loves our door, and continues the other way to chat with other fans down the hall. 

Cory and I go back into our room and literally collapse on the bed and freak out together. That lasted for a couple of minutes before it occurred to me that AJ was still in our hall. Why are we in our cabin?? Then we had this cartoon like moment where we stared at each other and bolted back out the door.

Me heading back towards AJ
We let other fans have their moment but figured it didn't hurt to listen in on the conversation. We also noticed that they blocked the hallway off completely by shutting the door. A few minutes later we see our other 2 roommates peak through the door and see them process what is happening. I can't even begin to explain how awful I felt that they missed him coming to our cabin, but I was relieved they didn't miss him all together. Fortunately they were able to get pics with AJ and that spurred a conversation about Inside Out. He said Ava loved the elephant character, but none of us could remember his name at the time (It was Bing Bong). All in all, we probably had another 5-10 minutes of him chatting with other fans down the hall. 

AJ down the hall

Now I'm full of adrenaline and no where near ready to go to bed. So Cory and I wander around the ship trying to process what had just happened. We end up in the solarium just reliving the glorious evening over and over and over. I had so much trouble falling asleep that night. But eventually forced myself. I went to bed knowing that anything else that happens on the cruise is gravy. I could've left at that moment and it would've been 150% worth everything.