Sunday, April 29, 2018

Cruise Itineraries 2018

Rose Tours made us sweat it out this year, but, better late than never!

BACKSTREET BOYS Cruise 2018 Itinerary
Day One: Thursday, May 3th, 2018
12:00PM – 3:30PM                Arrival Onboard the Carnival Cruise Ship Sensation
3:30PM – 4:30PM                  Mandatory Emergency Boat Drill
4:45PM                                   Sail Away with BSB on Lido & Verandah Decks
6:00PM                                   Dinner Group A
6:00PM                                   Doors Group B                                                                   Fantasia Lounge
6:30PM                                   Double Trouble Game Show Group B                             Fantasia Lounge
8:15PM                                   Dinner Group B
9:00PM                                   Doors Group A                                                                    Fantasia Lounge
9:30 PM                                  Double Trouble Game Show Group A                             Fantasia Lounge
11:00PM                                 Deck Party Groups A&B with DJ                                             Lido Deck 10
1 Hour Cocktail Party Open Bar from 12:00AM – 1:00 AM                         
Tonight’s Theme is “Fast times at Backstreet High”
Other Activities will be added, please check Carnival’s Fun Times for times and locations.
Day Two: Friday, May 4th, 2018 – Day at Sea
11:00AM                                 Photo Session Group B                                                      Plaza Aft Lounge
4:15 PM                                  Doors open Group B                                                            Fantasia Lounge
4:45PM                                   AJ Goes Country & Sneak Peak with Kevy Kev – Group B         Fantasia Lounge
6:00PM                                   Dinner Group A
8:15PM                                   Dinner Group B
8:30PM                                   Doors Open Group A                                                          Fantasia Lounge
9:00PM                                   BSB: Storytellers Group A                                                     Fantasia Lounge
11:00PM                                 Deck Party Groups A&B with DJ                                             Lido Deck 10
Tonight’s Theme is “We Got it Going Con”
Other Activities will be added, please check Carnival’s Fun Times for times and locations.
Day Three: Saturday, May 5th, 2018 –Grand Turk
5:30PM                                   Cinco De Howie D                                                                 Lido Deck 10
6:00PM                                   Dinner Group A
8:15PM                                   Dinner Group B
9:30PM                                   Doors Open Group B                                                           Fantasia Lounge
9:45PM                                   BSB: Storytellers Group B                                                     Fantasia Lounge
11:30PM                                 Deck Party Groups A&B with DJ                                             Lido Deck 10
Tonight’s Theme is “Millennium Night
Other Activities will be added, please check Carnival’s Fun Times for times and locations.
Day Four: Sunday, May 6th, 2018 – Day at Sea
10:00AM – 3:00PM                Blackjack Tournaments                                                                        Casino
11:00AM                                 Photo Session Group A                                                     Plaza Aft Lounge
2:30PM                                   BSB HQ with Nick                                                                 Lido Deck 10
3:30PM                                   Doors Open Group A                                                          Fantasia Lounge
4:00PM                                   AJ Goes Country & Sneak Peak with Kevy Kev – Group A         Fantasia Lounge
6:00PM                                   Dinner Group A
6:00PM                                   Doors open Group B                                                            Fantasia Lounge
6:30PM                                   Game Night with Mr. & Mrs. Littrell & Guests                  Fantasia Lounge
7:30PM                                   BSB Casino Night – Final Tournament Tables                                    Casino
8:00PM                                   Doors Open Group A                                                     Fantasia Lounge           
8:15PM                                   Dinner Group B                                                                   
8:30PM                                   Game Night with Mr. & Mrs. Littrell & Guests                  Fantasia Lounge
10:00PM                                 Deck Party Groups A&B with DJ                                             Lido Deck 10
Tonight’s Theme is “Party like it’s 1993”
Other Activities will be added, please check Carnival’s Fun Times for times and locations.
Day Five: Monday, May 7th, 2018
Day of Debarkation
8:00AM                                   Arrive at Miami Cruise Terminal
Merchandise Store Hours:
The Merchandise store is in the Library on Atlantic Deck 8
Day One: Friday May 3, 2018
5:30PM – 11:30PM
Day Two: Friday May 4, 2018
9:00AM – 11:30PM
Day Three: Saturday May 5, 2018
5:30PM – 11:30PM
Day Four: Sunday May 6, 2018
9:00AM – 10:00PM
Hospitality Desk Hours:
The Hospitality Desk is Midship on Promenade Deck 9
Day One: Friday May 3, 2018
1:00 PM – 4:00 PM
5:00PM – 8:00PM
Day Two: Friday May 4, 2018
4:00PM – 7:00PM
Day Three: Saturday May 5, 2018
6:00PM – 8:00PM
Day Four: Sunday May 6, 2018
6:00PM – 8:00PM
In Your cabin tune into your exclusive BSB Channel 21

My Take
Phew, lots to digest here!

Let's start with the new events. 'AJ Goes Country & Sneak Peak with Kevy Kev'. Given how strict they are with the whole 'no cameras or phones' I assume we'll be getting a taste of new music. Given that I have 2 phones and a camera, part of me wanted to sneak in a device, but they seem to mean business if they're making us go through a metal detector. Yikes! But the other part of me will feel a sense of relief not having to worry about taking pictures and filming the events. Just enjoy some new music from 2 of my faves :) And historically I've loved the solo events where the guys sing. They can do some more unreleased stuff and things we don't normally get to hear.

Next up is Cinco De Howie. Sounds generic enough but it also sounds a bit like his 'Rum DMC' event. I imagine it'll involve Howie and alcohol and more Howie and more alcohol. I wasn't the biggest fan of his Rum DMC event, so hopefully this event will have a bit more to it than watching him play beer pong. Granted whatever he does, I'll be there!

BSB HQ with Nick. So best that I can infer is that this will be based on the popular trivia game/app - HQ trivia. The good news is that I do play that app/game and the bad news is I have yet to win. Grrr. But with Nick hosting and the questions being BSB related, I maybe just maybe will be pull this off.
For those of you who don't know what HQ trivia is all about - its a game show where they ask 12 multiple choice questions where everyone gets to play until they guess a wrong answer. Last ones standing will split a pot of money. If that's what they intend to do here, I love that it gives everyone a chance to play. Of course you never know, so we shall see!

Last but not least is Game Night with Mr. & Mrs. Littrell & Guests. Of course that last word is the most intriguing here. "& Guests," huh? How does one get to be a guest? Hopefully this means fan involvement in some way. This sounds like it'll be a fun time. Anytime you give Brian a mic you know you'll have some good laughs.

Seems like we're getting lots of game shows this year... Double Trouble Game Show being the main game show with all the boys. I honestly don't have any guesses on this one but I'm sure it'll involve some good laughs as well.

Last but not least is BSB: Storytellers. It appears that this will be our concert. From my understanding the New Kids did a concert similar to this where they take about some of their songs with stories and anecdotes, then sing them. I'm honestly thrilled they're not copping out and doing the Vegas set because I was a bit worried they would. I'm glad that they realize they are on a ship with all of their super fans and we don't need to see all their singles we've seen performed hundreds of time. Im happy we're getting something unique.

Of course I don't want to focus on what's not here, but I still can't help but be a bit upset we aren't getting a Q&A event nor a beach party. Those are 2 of my faves and the Q&A seems like such an easy event to put together....but that's okay. Hopefully they'll more than make it up to us with these other events.

Oh boy, cruisers. It's getting real!! See you on board in just 4 days!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

AJ Blackjack Tournament Sign Ups

You know we're starting to get closer to cruise time because the blackjack tournament signups are here! In case you missed it, here is the email that went out:

Ever dream of playing blackjack on the High Seas?
Well, here is your chance.
 AJ is hosting his annual Blackjack Tournament.
For just $25 dollars (payable to the casino host on-board), you can have a chance to play for a cash prize and, more importantly, the chance of beating Mr. McLean himself

The top six chip winners from the qualifying rounds (starting in the casino at 10am) will test their skills in the grand finale.

The three players with the most chips will win cash prizes.

Submit your name, email address and dining time HERE.
We will randomly select among all entries. You will receive a schedule with your table time in advance.

Please submit your request by Friday, April 27th
Good luck!

What to Expect- Cliff Notes
I wrote a post a few years ago on 'What to Expect: AJs Blackjack Tournament' if you want more info. But I'll attempt a cliff notes version here as well. My credentials are that I've played in the tournament 3 times and made it to the finals to play with Howie once.

Basically you need to sign up via the link above. You will likely get an email a few days before the cruise with the schedule on when you're assigned time is. If you sign up, you do NOT have to participate if you choose later not to. Alternately they usually do accept last minute sign-ups as well. It costs $25 to play.

The tournament itself is structured that you will play at a table with other fans first. Everyone starts with the same amount of chips/money and the goal is to be among the top 6 players OVERALL in order to play with AJ, not just at the table. You will play through 7 hands and whoever has the most chips/money at the end will go on a leaderboard and go on to play with AJ. Definitely keep this in mind with your betting strategy.

From my anecdotal experience it seems that you dont need to be an experienced blackjack player to play. A lot of fans just want the chance to play with AJ and that's okay! So don't be intimidated because you don't know how to play. I recommend giving it a try, you never know.

Good luck!

Friday, April 20, 2018

What? You're Going to See BSB Again?

Yes. Yes I am.

As Backstreet fans we all get this question on a regular basis. As we quickly approach cruise #6 I continue to get asked, "Another Backstreet cruise?"

I find I'm met with different types of responses from family, friends and colleagues. Some are supportive of my fangirl life; some even jealous and wish they were just a fraction as passionate about something as I am about BSB; but a good majority of the time I'm met with some sort of judgment. The fact that I'm a grown woman in her 30's and choose to spend my money and vacation time 'chasing a boyband around' seems like a foreign concept to many. Meanwhile I don't judge others who say go to the same beach every year or spend their money on designer clothes or whatever it is that floats their boat.

Well what is the draw of a Backstreet cruise? For me it's the magic, an escape, and the memories.

There's just something magical in the air as soon as you land in the Miami airport. You know you're about to start the trip of a lifetime. You look around the airport and try to spot other fans who also headed to the cruise - needing to freak out with others who just get it. That magic continues to escalate as you reach the port and see a room full of fans who all share the same love as you do. And nothing tops that feeling of when you actually see the boys for the first time boarding the ship. You pinch yourself for reassurance that you are not are in fact going on a cruise with the Backstreet Boys. As you walk up the gangway and get ready to board the ship that moment the possibilities and hopes of everything that's to come over the next 4 magical days is euphoric. It's like a drug.

As I get older and face more responsibilities from work, family life and just general adulthood - I can escape all of my cares from back home. Even though its for a short time, for those 4 days I can be 13 years all over again. I can let go of that day to day stress and completely unplug. Being in the middle of the ocean with 2000 fans and the 5 boys who got me through my adolescence is just such a surreal environment that no one else can understand if you haven't been there. It's unlike a concert and it's unlike any other cruise. It's just a super unique experience and for me - it offers me an opportunity to get away and simply recharge my batteries for life. And everyone needs that.

This upcoming cruise will be my 6th Backstreet Boy cruise. Another question I get asked frequently is 'which was the best cruise?' Well I can find reasons for every cruise being my favorite, but in reality the first will always hold such a special place in my heart because it was the first. Experiencing that magic for the first time was absolutely surreal. 6 cruises later I find I need more and more to get that same 'high' if you will. It becomes harder to top the experiences I've had on each prior cruise. Yet somehow I manage to still have the time of my life each time I go. 

And I'll be damned if I haven't made some of the best memories of my life on board these cruises. Memories with the boys, with my friends, and even just myself. I've taken a shot with Kevin. AJ has come visited my cabin. I've played blackjack with Howie. I've played beach games with Nick. I've had some really good conversations with Brian. And most importantly I've made some of my now best friends. So while I don't know what the future holds if the boys will continue to cruise or if I will be able to continue to go on them...I cherish every single memory I've made on board. Those memories are worth the world to me. And they are what keeps me coming back year after year.

So again, my answer to your question is a resound 'YES', and now I ask, do you want to come?

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Sail Away with Nick Carter

I don't know whether to be happy or mad that Nick announced this so last minute. Damn you Carter for not giving us more time to plan.

Here are the deets:

Party with Nick before setting sail on #BSBCruise2018!

Sail Away With Nick Carter

Wednesday, May 2
Hard Rock Cafe Miami
401 Biscayne Blvd.
Miami, FL 33132

Two types of tickets will be available:

*Limited quantity
Professional Meet & Greet photo
Welcome drink upon arrival in a keepsake HardRock branded glass
Hors d'oeuvres upon arrival
Custom Nick Carter Branded Sunglasses
Custom laminate
Exclusive VIP area

Entry into the event

Tickets on sale Friday, April 20th at 10am Pacific.

Does anyone else feel that this is a little vague? The only thing that concretely involves Nick is the meet & greet. I wish they would give us just a little bit more on what this event entails. But I suppose my fangirl experiences have taught be to pick apart every word with these things because inevitably we aren't guaranteed anymore than what's listed here. I assume he will be mingling with fans, but of course you never know with Nick.

I also notice that by the time I got to write this blog post they had the prices up at $250 and $75 respectively and have promptly taken them down. Makes me think we're in for a surprise Friday during the pre-sale. Hmmm.

Well good luck to all those fans during the sale on Friday and have fun to anyone going!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Check-In and Various Updates

Hi cruisers - We have an update from Rose Tours with some key information! My commentary all the way at the bottom ;)

Important Information:

Is everyone ready to leave the Real World behind and cruise for 4 nights with BSB onboard the Carnival Sensation?!?!?

Before the nonstop fun can start we need to take care of some business. All guests sailing on Carnival are required to complete an online check-in no later than 11:59 pm May 2nd, the night prior to sailing. Once the quick and easy 4 Step Online Check-In process is complete you can proceed to print your Boarding Pass and Luggage Tags and book shore excursions and spa appointments.

New for this year – Carnival Staggered Check-in: Carnival has a new staggered check-in policy for their regular cruise guests. You must select a time when you do your online registration. This new CCL check in policy will not apply to us but they do require an arrival time to be filled in to complete your check in. You can arrive any time prior to 3pm.

To begin the Online Check In process, click the following link- Carnival Online Check In

Select Login, Register or Access Your Booking Now and provide the following information:

Your Booking Number: 

Guest Last Name

Date of Birth

Ship Name: Carnival Sensation

Sail Date: 05/03/2018

Step 1 - Provide Guest Information: You will be required to provide personal information such as address, an emergency contact, and your travel documentation information

Step 2 – Select your arrival time.

Step 3 - Onboard Expenses: You will open your onboard expense account by providing credit card information or you can select to provide cash upon embarkation.

Step 4 - Cruise Ticket Contract: You will need to accept Carnival Cruise Ticket Contract (Please note you will not be able to complete the online check in without accepting these terms)

Step 5 - Check-In Summary: You will receive a message you have completed the Online Check In and can now proceed to print your boarding pass and luggage tags.

If you are having technical issues while checking in please call Carnival at 1-866-236-6670 for assistance. If any of the pre- populated information in your online check in is incorrect (example: date of birth) please contact Rose Tours at 1-215-663-8800 (M-F 9am-5pm ET)

Please have proper travel documentation (valid Passport or State Issued Birth Certificate and government issued photo ID) with your Boarding pass with you for check-in at the pier. We suggest you put any necessary medication in your carryon bag since any checked luggage will not be delivered to your stateroom until later in the day.


AUTOGRAPHS: No autographs will be given at the photo sessions. You are more than welcome to ask BSB for their autographs when you see them around the ship, however please respect their privacy if they request it.

PHOTO SESSIONS: We will have groups of 4 or 5 passengers for each picture with BSB. Please respect this group policy. These sessions will be in the Plaza Aft Lounge on Deck 9. Please arrive at the Photo Session with your group of 4 or 5 passengers! NO CAMERAS, MOBILE PHONES, GIFTS OR BAGS WILL BE ADMITTED INTO THE PHOTO SESSION. If you do not have a group of 4 or 5, please go into the Disco to make up your group. Once you have your group of 4 or 5, please get in line. If you do not get a group of 4 or 5 you will be added to random passengers in order to get your photo. The photo session will end when the line ends. A link will be sent about 2 weeks after the cruise for you to download your photo. There will be no mixing of group A & B – this will be strictly enforced.

PERSONAL CAMERAS / VIDEO CAMERAS: Please feel free to bring your personal camera to all events except for the official photo sessions. If personal cameras are brought to the photo sessions, you will have to return it to your cabin. Video cameras allowed only for personal events. They are not allowed at official BSB cruise events. NO PROFESSIONAL CAMERAS ALLOWED AT ANY TIME. (SLR, DSLR, HD VIDEO, ETC)

WRISTBANDS: You will receive your wristband at check-in. Your wristband will have your exact seat assignment and either an A or B, which will denote your dining and event time. Wristband color and seat assignment number was determined by time of booking. Please note that these wristbands are required for all events. DO NOT REMOVE these wristbands until the end of the cruise. The cruise is sold out and the showroom is at capacity. There will be no seating changes.

PERSONAL GIFTS TO BSB: Gifts will NOT be permitted at any BSB scheduled events. Gifts can be left at the Rose Tours hospitality desk located Midship on deck 9. Please consult your itinerary for Hospitality Hours. Your gifts will be delivered to BSB.

SEATING: All seating in the Fantasia Show Room will be reserved. Your wristband determines which zone you are in and your Seat Number. Please look at the seating charts provided at check in to see where you will be seated. Please respect the seating policy and do not switch seats during the events. Please be respectful of others when entering the Fantasia Show Room.

CONCERT: BSB Concerts will be reserved seating. Each group gets ONE concert. NO ONE WILL BE ADMITTED INTO THE OTHER GROUPS CONCERT. Please respect your fellow guests during the concert. VIDEO IS NOT PERMITTED DURING THE CONCERT!

DRESS: Dress during the day is casual (shorts, shirts, skirts, jeans, etc.) Theme nights are as follows:

Thursday 5/3 – Fast Times at Backstreet High

Friday 5/4 – We’ve Got it Goin’ Con

Saturday 5/5 – Millennium Night

Sunday 5/6 – Party Like It’s 1993


Guests with Early Dining are in Group A

Guests with Late Dining are in Group B

  • You will receive dining room assignment at check in. Seating in the dining rooms is open.
  • Beach & Swim Wear, Tank Tops are not allowed in the Dining Room.
  • Please arrive at your assigned dining room with your party, the Maitre D’ will seat you.
  • Other options include 24 hour Room Service (fees may apply), Buffet on Lido Deck or the 24 hour Pizzeria.

Free Day in Grand Turk

You can enjoy your day on shore, no activities are scheduled while we are in port.

Carnival Ban Carry-On Bottled Beverages

Carnival Cruise Line is prohibiting its passengers from bringing bottled beverages onboard

You are allowed up to 12 unopened cans of water, sodas and non-alcoholic beverages per person to be brought on board during embarkation. You can now purchase a 12-pack of bottled water from Carnival at a price of $4.50 plus tax online prior to the cruise or on board.

Passengers age 21 and older can bring aboard one 750-milliliter bottle of unopened wine or champagne in carry-on baggage on embarkation day. If you choose to consume it in a restaurant or bar, you will be charged a $15 corkage fee.

All liquor, beer, other forms of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages outside of these exceptions are prohibited in both carry-on and checked luggage and will be confiscated and discarded with no compensation provided. All alcohol purchased in ports of call or onboard shops will be returned on the morning of debarkation.

Guests also are prohibited from bringing large coolers onboard since it’s an impediment to the boarding and security process. They can bring onboard personal-sized coolers, no larger than 12-by-12-by-12 inches to store small quantities of non-alcoholic beverages and/or medications.

Door Decorating Contest: Please note that while we are having a door decorating contest, Carnival has changed their policy on what is permitted to go on the door. You can decorate your door if it doesn’t present any fire hazards; such as plug-ins or decorations over the lighting features that may overheat.

My Interpretation
Most of this seems pretty standard. The thing that jumped out at me is of course that we're not having a beach party this year. Definitely a bummer as that is always a highlight for me and we missed that last time in Europe. I also personally prefer the vibe at the beach party as opposed to the theme parties mainly because they are daytime events and not late night parties. But on the bright side, it gives us the day in Grand Turk to explore. I do encourage you to take advantage of the day...there's no need to stay on the ship and stalk the guys. In the past, the boys have taken advantage of the port and gone off to explore. Thus you should too! You never know if you might run into them in Grand Turk.

Another point to note is that they did officially announce a door decorating contest. While they always seem to have one, they don't always make an official announcement. So that's exciting. Hopefully they'll have some good prizes this year.

Other than that, we are officially 18 days away! As we get closer to set sail date, if anyone has any questions, always feel free to email me.