Friday, April 20, 2012

Anywhere For You

I've mentioned a few times before that I plan on traveling to Europe to see the boys for the upcoming leg of the NKOTBSB tour. Well, I'm actually doing it. In just a few hours I'll be flying across the Atlantic Ocean for a two week trip to Italy and Switzerland. I'm giving myself a very generous birthday present and will be seeing NKOTBSB perform in Geneva, Switzerland with a Platinum VIP. Heck, if Im flying over to Europe to see them, you bet I'm going to do a VIP as well. I'm so excited because I am in need of a Backstreet fix big time. I'm also excited to see them perform in a different country. It'll be neat to see how the concert experience differs from your typical American concert, if at all.

I still can't believe I'm doing this trip. It made me realize just how much traveling I've done in the past 2 years to see BSB and its so fantastic. They've given me an excuse to travel and see places I would normally otherwise go to.  In just the past two years I've seen at least one member of BSB in Washington DC, Baltimore, Nashville, Boston, Philadelphia, Atlantic City, Hershey, Miami, Key West, Cozumel, Nassau, and soon to add Geneva. And then I can add a whole slew of other places I've visited to see BSB friends. I suppose some could view this list as sad, but it really excites me.

Now I've endured my fair share of teasing for all of this travel. Most non-BSB friends think I'm crazy and just going to all these different cities/countries solely to see the Backstreet Boys. That is definitely not the case! I'm able to visit friends, sight see, and experience each city for what it is. The boys are just an excuse to go. But its gotten to the point where most of non-BSB friends have caught on and anytime I tell them I'm going out of town they'll ask if its to see the Backstreet Boys. 9 out of 10 times, the answer is yes. Sad but true.

Anyway, I better wrap this post up so I don't miss my flight. I'll be back in the states on May 5th, so don't expect any updates to the blog until I'm back. And don't worry, I'll update you on my trip and the inevitable Backstreet misadventures I'll have. Eeek so excited!

Monday, April 16, 2012

No More Complaining

First let's take a look at the Backstreet Cruising experience as a whole:

Complaining about the Backstreet Boys isn’t something you can avoid, it’s a primary feature of the cruise. The BSB fan club probably would’ve collapsed due to lack of interest if people didn’t have various aspects of the cruise to bitch about. We should be applauding Ground Ctrl and Rose Tours for keep coming back to plan more cruises for us in spite of all the complaints they receive. Not to mention the Backstreet Boys as well.

It always amazes me that fans seem to complain no matter what. I think we're all guilty of it at times, myself included. It's almost tough not to when the expectations are so high. But I decided I'm going to tackle some of those more common complaints and give you my opinion on the matter.

"How they pick the fans that participate in the events isn't fair."
I'd say this is the number one complaint. I've heard fans complain about how the staff picks fans on the spot isn't fair. How it shouldn't be based off of physical appearance. I've heard how they pick them randomly in advance isn't fair. It should be based off of who puts the most effort into the theme outfit, door, etc. The reality is that the process will be fair for those who end up getting picked, and isn't fair for those that don't. End of story. This will never change no matter how they pick fans.
 "The Backstreet Boys aren't spending enough time with the fans."
I personally think this complaint goes back to having unrealistic expectations. I don't think its feasible that the boys are with us every minute of the day. They need a break. I know if I was in the midst of all that craziness I couldn't handle it for more than the amount that they do. I'd obviously love if they could spend more time with us, but I certainly don't fault them for not doing so. I say take what you can get. I feel like I get to spend more time with them in 1 hour of the cruise than I do in an entire year of random BSB events.
"The Backstreet Boys aren't interacting enough with their fans."
I just am not sure what some fans expect. They must think Nick is going to tuck them every night. I personally disagree with this and think they do a great job of interacting with the fans. The only reason they don't do it more is our own behavior. If we didn't act like wild animals around them, they'd be more inclined to spend more time mingling with us. Once again, I think it goes back to having unrealistic expectations.
"The BSB cruise isn't as good as the New Kids cruise because the New Kids are a lot more hands on."
I get irritated when people compare BSB to New Kids in this fashion because its like comparing apples and oranges. They're completely different people. If New Kids are more hands on, that's because its their personality to be that way. Our boys maybe aren't as hands on but that's why I love them. I don't expect Brian to be ripping his shirt off at the beach or grinding with girls in the club like Donnie might. And I don't expect AJ to be out late every night and partying like Jordan might do because it means he's staying healthy and sober. And if Howie or Nick were as "hands on" and dancing with every girl on the ship, I would probably lose some respect for them. I just don't think you can compare what New Kids are doing to what BSB is doing. Sorry for the rant but thats my story and I'm sticking to it.
"It costs too much money for what we're getting."
Yes the trip costs a lot of money but I personally feel its a great value. If you consider that they charge $520 for a platinum VIP which lasts maybe an hour; the cruise costs an average of $1,000-$2,000 for 3-4 full days with the Backstreet Boys. It is what it is, so in my mind there's no use complaining about it.

These are just a few of the complaints I hear a lot. There are tons and tons more. I could have a whole separate blog just addressing complaints of the cruise. I can only imagine what sort of things Rose Tours must see on a daily basis.

As I said, we're all guilty of voicing a few complaints. I know I've done it before so hopefully you don't think I'm too hypocritical. But now that my head is slightly out of the BSB Cruise fog I can now step back and look at it with a level head. I realize there's really a method to their madness and I shouldn't be so quick to complain. Sometimes we all just need to step back and remember how special of an opportunity this is and check the complaints at the door.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

80s Night Unabridged

The first deck party of the cruise was 80's night. The Backstreet Boys, or should I say Sphynkter, came out very appropriately to Just Want You to Know playing in the background. The boys all looked absolutely amazing in their outfits, they really went all out tonight. Brian had eyeliner on, for crying out loud! Meanwhile I think the crowd was a little thin this evening because the boat was rocking. I know several girls couldn't make it out that night due to seasickness.

Nick- "I don't envy you ladies for having hair. This shit's in my eyes."
So as the night unfolded, if I'm being perfectly honest, not a whole lot really happened. Which is why it took me a while to actually want to write this post. As I think back to what happened that night, I cant think of anything noteworthy. My favorite part of this night was just seeing the boys in their getups.

Most of this event encompassed the boys singing along to the songs the DJ was playing. The one that stands out for me was AJ singing along with 'Pour Some Sugar on Me'. So the boys did this for a little while and AJ eventually asked us if we wanted them to come closer. What a ridiculous question. Of course we do, AJ! In the history of the Backstreet Boys ever asking that question, I'm willing the bet the answer was never "No." So soon after, Nick and Howie made their way downstairs to the bar and handed out some drinks to the crowd. AJ also made his way across the deck to get a little closer to the fans.

Loving AJ in a fishnet top and spandex bottoms.

The other highlight of the evening was the boy's playing beer pong with a few fans. They picked a few fans to go up on stage. AJ did sit this event out, which I'm very happy to say. The remaining boys did play though. This is another one of those events that I'm sure was really fun for the girls up on stage playing, but speaking on behalf of one of the onlookers- it was rather boring. It wasn't a game that was particularly entertaining to watch. And I also think it was in bad taste to do it in the first place and make AJ sit out. It just seems like there are so many other things they could've done.

Howie partying all night
I hate to say it, but that pretty much sums up 80's night. Howie was out with the fans until the wee hours of the morning, which was great. Was it my favorite event of the cruise. No. But it was still an evening with BSB thus I still had a great time. Plus it was a once in a lifetime chance to see Sphynkter live.

So what did everyone else think of 80's night?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

My Routine for General Admission Events

In case my last post didn't give you enough info on how to approach a GA on board, I'll go through my experiences and my overall observations with the general admission events on the cruise.

My Experience with GA Events

So I lucked out right off the bat and had front row for the sail away party. I maybe only put in 30-40 minutes of waiting and it paid off tremendously. It was great to be up front and be super close to the boys, but along with that came all the negatives of a GA event. Was it worth it? Absolutely. But because I was up close for that event, I didn't worry too much about it for the remainder of the trip. My general mindset was that I knew I couldn't be front row for everything, so don't stress myself out over it.

For the theme nights, it varied every day. For 2 of the nights, they had a concert right before the deck party. So I knew if I did go up early to wait, it would be a while before the boys showed up to either of those deck parties. I also went in with the mindset that it was more important for me to be up close for prom night because I figured it might increase my odds of getting picked for prom queen. However that proved to be moot. I would later realize PJ night was the key night to be up close. But these are things no one really knows until you get there, so as much planning as I did, it didn't really matter. I personally didn't show up very early to any of the deck parties just because of the nature of the events and the schedule. There's not really a "performance" where its key to be up front. Its more about just being there. Hopefully that makes sense.

The Beach Party was an event that most closely resembled your normal GA event because there was 1 main stage and a lot of waiting. By the time my bus dropped me off, there was already a massive crowd in front of the stage. Thus it made sense for me not to stand around for hours in the back of a crowd. I may have changed my mind if there were only 1 or 2 rows of people in front of me when i got there. However it worked out well because I was able to relax on the beach and get some lunch. I also had a fantastic view in the back anyway, so it didnt make much of a difference. The boys also moved around a lot and crowds shifted with them. It worked out in the end and I had a front row at one brief point and was able to snag a picture with Brian. No complaints here at all with this event and I didn't have to stand and wait at all.

Karaoke was the last general admission event. I did get there semi-early that day because there was more of a "performance" to watch. Maybe 45 minutes early or so? My memory is a little fuzzy, but that sounds about right. However because the boys were elevated on a higher stage, it proved not to make a difference whether or not I was up front.

One other thing that is pseudo-GA is dining. Both in the lido buffet and in the main restaurant. I found the experience to be the worst on 2010 cruise during dinner because all of the boys ate with us and it was a mad dash to be at those tables closest to them. Girls would start lining up over an hour early to get a prime spot. But as with any BSB event, there was cutting in line, pushing, shoving, and trickery to get in. What else is new? Since there wasn't any set schedule or dining room for the boys to eat in 2011, it was a lot more relaxing and not nearly as much waiting. I think people only waited outside because they wanted to eat dinner.

General Observations

Now that you've heard my experiences, I'll back up and speak to my general observations. I personally felt that as the cruise progressed, it got harder and harder to get good spots without putting in some serious time. I felt that as everyone got more acquainted with the cruise and how things were run, you'd see girls camped in front of the stage earlier and earlier. At least that was what I noticed. This was another deterrent for me to get to events too early. I knew I'd be able to see what was going on no matter where I was, even if I didn't get there super early. And for me, I didn't want to spend my whole trip waiting and not enjoying my vacation.

I also didn't think it always made sense to "camp out" for a good spot on the Imagination because of how the deck was set up. There were 2 stages, and the boys utilized both. So I knew if I was in the front for 1 part of the event, I'd be in the back for the rest. Which brings me to my next point. If you're patient, you will have your moment. I seriously can't stress this enough. For most events the boys moved around a lot. Even though you might not be up front in the beginning, doesn't mean you won't be next to them at one point.

I can think of countless instances where this proved to be true for either myself or friends. At the pre-club event I went upstairs just not to be packed in like a sardine. I didn't have to wait long before Nick went upstairs and was 2 feet away from me. *Swoons at the thought* This sort of thing happened a lot. Another example is Brian roamed around the deck at the sail away and even went to the upper deck. I also felt the boys moved around a lot at the beach party. Everyone is able to have a good spot at one point.

Another factor in deciding whether or not to wait around for a GA event is to prepare for the unexpected. There were instances were the staff might tell you the boys will be mainly on 1 stage but in actuality, they were mainly on a different stage. This resulted in some upset fans. Or look at the last night, the event was last minute changed to the main atrium. Had you been waiting up at the pool deck, it wouldn't have mattered.

Last point. I also notice that when you shy back a bit and are away from the massive crowd, it can pay off as well. If you think about it, the boys don't generally stop, take pictures, and talk to people who are in the mosh pit. But I do see them stop if you're maybe on the upper deck or just away from the main crowd in general. That's how I was able to grab my solo picture with Howie and Kev this past trip.

So in conclusion. You'll get to see plenty of BSB no matter where you are. Just be patient.

Monday, April 2, 2012

How to Survive a General Admission Event on a BSB Cruise

This is the first post in a 2 part series on GA events. I've done my fair share of Backstreet events. And if you've been a fan for as long as I have, you know there are very distinct types of shows- assigned seating and general admission. With assigned seating, you have the freedom to come and go whenever you want without worrying that someone will take your seat. Conversely, with a general admission event there are usually no seats and you are packed in like sardines with your fellow fans to take in the amazingness that is the Backstreet Boys.

I think we all know the drill when it comes to BSB concerts, but its a whole different ballgame on the cruise. You will experience both assigned seating and general admission events on the cruise. All events in the main lounge including the concert are assigned seating (thank goodness!) However any event that doesn't take place there is for all intensive purposes, a general admission event so you need to prepare accordingly. This includes the beach party, theme parties, sail away party, karaoke (at least in 2011), and even dining.

Each type of event has their pros and cons but the reality is you don't really have a choice in the matter. So here are a few tips to surviving a GA event on a Backstreet cruise:

  1. Wear comfortable clothes/shoes- I know we all want to look our best for the boys, but for a GA event I prefer function over form. The only time I'll dress to impress and sacrifice comfort is if I know I'll actually be meeting them. Which makes it a lot trickier to balance on a cruise. It's easier for me to dress more comfortable at a concert on land because I'll know definitively whether or not I'll be meeting them, which depends on whether or not I do a VIP. However on the cruise there's always that possibility you'll meet them.

    From my experiences with the GA events on board, I'd say wear layers. If you're outside it can go from warm and sunny to cold and rainy in a matter of minutes. You'd hate to lose your prime spot because you had to run back to your cabin to get a sweatshirt. The other most important thing is a comfy pair of shoes because you'll be standing for a long time and your feet will thank you later. Also consider that we're on a ship that moves, and if we're on the lido deck by the pool, it can get slippery. Heels may not be the wisest choice. But this is coming from a girl who trips wearing sneakers.

  2. Pack your bag wisely- Your purse will be your survival bag while you're standing there waiting for BSB to come out. And lets face it, you may be waiting a while. Make sure you have everything you need in there and even things you dont think you'll need. Room key, camera, Tylenol, makeup, sunscreen, water, and maybe a snack. This tip mostly holds true just for the beach party because you're out in the hot sun away from your cabin where you will really will be relying on what's in that bag.

  3. Before you Go- Go the bathroom. Eat something. Hydrate. Maybe not in that order. But you dont know when the next opportunity will be to go to the bathroom, so do make a quick pit stop to the ladies room. It's also really important for your health to eat and drink something before you go. Especially since you're in the Caribbean under a hot sun. You risk getting faint or dehydrated if your blood sugar is too low, which I believe happened to several girls last year at the beach party. The last thing you'll want is to miss the boys because you're not feeling well.

  4. When to Arrive- For a GA concert on land, I take the day whole day off and get to the venue as early as I can without going too over the top. However its a very different experience on the cruise because there are other events going on and you want to fully experience your vacation. Plus the Backstreet Boys are somewhere on that ship so you might miss them walking around if you're waiting for hours trying to get a good spot for an event later in the day.

    I think it really depends on what you're looking to get out of the experience on when to arrive. If you need to feel Nick's sweat spray on you at every event, be prepared to put in some time. If you're fine standing in the back and watching everyone in front of the stage fight like wolves, then come whenever you want. Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but you know it can hold true.

    Generally speaking though you don't have to expect to put in nearly as much time waiting as you would at a regular concert. Most events I don't think people get there much earlier than an hour out. I think the worst was at the beach party when fans started lining up close to 4 hours in advance.

  5. Play the Waiting Game- It's generally going to take a while from when you stake out your spot until you see any of the boys. If you have any basketball defense moves, prepare to break them out. You’re about to be surrounded by a lot of fans in varying degrees of inebriation all ready and willing to push you to get a few inches closer to BSB. Stand your ground but don't get violent. It's not worth it. Speaking of inebriation, I'd also advise against drinking alcoholic beverages during this time or you'll be running to the bathroom by the time BSB finally does come out.

  6. The Main Event- After putting in hours of waiting, the main event has finally arrived. My advice is to stay in the moment and not let your surroundings get to you. I know it can be difficult. You're inevitably going to be stepped on, pushed, beer spilled on you, etc. Just remember why you're there. Its to see the Backstreet Boys and have a good time. Not to pick a fight with the girls around you.
In case you can't tell, I'm not a huge fan of general admission events. But as I said, we don't have a choice in the matter so all we can do is prepare the best we can.