Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Recap 2016: Day 1 Part 1

It's always so exciting starting off my cruise review, starting at a blank screen and anxious to let all my stories fill the page. So without further ado, I'm going to dive right in!

I generally don't like to spend a lot of time going through my pre-cruise adventures but I'll do a quick overview.

Long drive to Newark airport. Long plane ride to London. Long layover at Heathrow. Not quite as long flight to Barcelona. Rain. Sagrada Familia. Rain. Another church. Lunch. Rain. Another Cathedral. Time to head to the cruise terminal!

2 things I want to discuss before jumping into the fun stuff.
  1. I have a new appreciation for all you non-Americans who have traveled to the US for past cruises. It's something I've 100% taken for granted how quick, cheap(ish) and easy it is to cruise in my home country. The travel itself is incredibly exhausting and the time change on top of it - forget about it! I found it difficult to start the cruise already zapped of some energy.
  2. This was the first year that my friends and I did Airbnb for our accommodations. We got a 3 bedroom apartment with a kitchen and the 8 of us had SO much fun hanging out before the cruise. I think we'd be inclined to try this again in the future, and I encourage other larger groups of cruisers to do the same. The alternative would be to get 4 hotel rooms and this way we saved money on the room, got excited for the cruise together, and were even able to cook some meals to save more money.
Me and the gang before we head to the port
The morning of the cruise I wake up, and it feels so surreal that the day has finally arrived. For many reasons, it just didn't feel like a typical BSB cruise to me. I suppose it's because we were in a new city and headed to a new cruise line, new terminal, etc.

I am amazed that we got 8 girls ready, packed, and out the door....not just on time, but early!! I suppose anytime you tell us that Nick, Brian, Howie, AJ, and Kevin are waiting, we can actually get ready on time. I feel like that's a good trick for any husband/boyfriend to use in the future. Hmm...

Anyway, we took a cab over to the terminal and it finally started hitting me. I was going on cruise #5 with the Backstreet Boys!!! Seriously, I love my life.

The terminal experience was wildly different from what we're used to sailing out of Miami. The nice piece is that we were able to check-in right away. No waiting around. However the bad piece is that we were able to check-in right away. And by that I mean, there really wasn't a way to watch the Backstreet Boys board which is always a thrill. Yes, I could've waited outside, but I didn't know that at the time! I felt like a first time cruiser. I was just going through the process, expecting to be held up at some point, but before you knew it, I was on the ship!

So while I missed the boys actually board the ship, my understanding is that due to the overwhelming reception they received in Barcelona airport, they had to have military personnel escort them on board. Oy. I had a feeling in my gut that this was probably a good indication of what we can expect with the rest of the cruise.

Getting on board earlier than normal was super nice this year. Even lunch wasn't open yet! It allowed us time to explore the ship a bit, get our bearings, take pictures of all the cute BSB decorations on board, and of course, take pictures with the infamous cardboard cutouts. Which later we found out, Kevin also participated in the fun. I don't know why seeing the boys take pictures with their cardboard cutouts is so amusing to me. But it is.

Kevin with cardboard Kevin

After I posed with with the elevators (well that's a weird sentence taken out of context!) I was able to get a leisurely lunch with my friends and catch up with everyone. It was so nice!! We then headed to our cabin a bit early (read as, snuck into our cabin a bit early) and started getting our door decoration up.

Having fun putting up my door dec

My cabinmates and I decided to reuse our 'FRIENDS' themed door decoration from last year, for numerous reasons.
  1. We didn't want to travel with anything bulky across Europe for 2 weeks
  2. It was already done and given our busy schedules, we just didn't have the time to start from scratch. But I feel obligated to point out we did make some updates - about 50% of the memes were new this year. I'll post those later :)
  3. Save money
  4. We couldn't come up with another concept we loved as much
  5. As far as we know, AJ never did get to see the door last year and I still reallllly wanted him to see it in person (yes I know, I'm still stuck on that idea even 2 years later!) We knew we were on the same deck and same side of the hallway this year, so fingers crossed!!
The final product...
B.A.C.K.S.T.R.E.E.T <3
B.A.C.K.S.T.R.E.E.T <3 Part 2
Ok. Back to the cruise. Next up it was time for the muster station drill. I know girls had been camping out by the stage with their suitcases waiting for the sail away. I can't imagine how they felt when they were told they had to move for the drill. Speaking of, Royal Caribbean was A LOT more strict than Carnival with this. They actually took roll call.
I headed down to my station and had a pleasant surprise when I ran into Nick and Brian on the way to their own muster stations. Eeeep! My first Backstreet Boys sighting!!! There were a lot of fans surrounding them both but Brian stood up on a chair real quick and joked around that we all needed to go to our muster stations and get our life jackets on. I remember laughing at the time, but now I can't remember exactly what he said. Knowing it was Brian, I'm sure it was funny though :D

After the muster station drill, there was quite the comical scene of every single fan on board stampeding up the stairs/elevators to the pool deck. And I can't laugh too hard because I was one of the girls in the stampede. I didn't stand a chance to get anywhere close, so I honestly don't know why I even bothered.

Sail Away Party
I found myself off to the side of the stage, which conveniently was the side that the Backstreet Boys entered the event. So I got a nice up close view of all the guys in their sailor outfit get-ups as they made their way to the stage. I then decided to head to the upper deck so I could get a good view.

Captain BSB
Overall I found the sailaway party to be fun, probably not one of the best, but still had a great time. It was raining so that dampened the mood a little bit (pun not intended!). They did their typical cruise introductions. Made funny jokes. Nick did an impromptu poll on which Backstreet Boy is the freakiest of the group. They also took a poll of first time cruisers, second time cruisers, third time, etc. The comical part is that they seriously had no idea how many cruises they had done. They kept going back and forth. Guys, the answer is 5. You've done 5 cruises *shakes head*.

 The boys poll the audience on who has cruised before. Bonus - The clip starts off with Nick talking about Howie's underwear.

The poll did reveal that there were a lot of first time cruisers, which was to be expected. So as the deck partied continued, the boys were mingling around the deck and I noticed Brian head upstairs on my direction. Queue the nervous butterflies! Unfortunately he came close-ish but not quite close enough. Isn't that feeling the worst?? So close but so far.

However my luck hadn't completely ran out as AJ popped up behind me and without any trouble at all my friend and I were able to get pictures and a brief convo!! We told him about our door decoration and we officially challenged him to Friends trivia. He seemed receptive and seemed to grasp what we were telling him. Thus the first seed has officially been planted.

Picture with AJ. Check!
To be continued...