Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Sticker Shock

I know there's a bunch of people out there who may have had a reaction similar to this. "Woohoo, Backstreet Boy cruise. I can't wait to go!! Let me just take out the good ole credit ca....Holy crap. It costs how much?? And for only a three day cruise. I wish, but I'm just not sure I can justify that."

Well you're not alone. In fact, I don't think any past cruiser didn't have that thought run through their head. I know I sure as heck had that mindset. But I'm here now as a two-time cruiser and am here to help ease the blow a bit.

Yes, the cruise is expensive and costs about three times the price of a normal cruise. Just remember that all that extra money goes towards around 10 Backstreet events (give or take) If you priced those out separately you could factor in $100 for a concert; $200 for what would be equivalent to a silver VIP meet & greet, $100 or so for 3 after party type events, and several other events that in my mind are priceless because you can't get them anywhere else. So hopefully this can at least help justify where your money is going.

You should also take comfort in the fact that you do not have to pay that money all at once. Rose Tours works out a payment plan and gives you the flexibility to make payments pretty much on any schedule you'd like. So don't think about it as $1,000-$2,000 all at once. Think of it as about $100-$200 a month. We also have the added advantage of being given a bit more notice this time around. So that means its even less money every paycheck than on the prior 2 cruises. I find this a lot easier to digest because that's a much more manageable number. For me that means eating out a few times less throughout the month or skipping out on buying a new pair of shoes I don't really need anyway.

Another way that I was able to reduce the overall cost of the cruise is to ask family and friends to help out. And I don't mean ask for a hand out. But we have the holidays coming up right around the corner, and odds are there might be a few other special occasions that would warrant gift giving between now and the cruise. Why not ask your friends and family to skip getting you a gift and instead ask them to contribute to your BSB cruise fund. I did this for both cruises and was able to knock a couple hundred dollars off easy. You can even get creative with it and create a BSB Cruise registry. Who says you need to get married to create a registry?! I found a good site called Celebration Wishes so why not set up something fun for your trip and spread the word to loved ones about your cruise fund.

My last point is that I don't regret spending the money on the previous two cruises as all. I'd much more regret not going than seeing my bank account just a little bit fuller. My ONLY caveat here...as much as I support going on the cruise and think its worth every penny, I also don't condone going into debt over it. So really take a good hard look at your budget and see if you can afford this trip before committing.

If you want more info on cruise costs...here are a few of my previous posts on the subject.
Credit Card Damage: The Final Cost  (2011 cruise cost breakdown)
Can you Afford a Backstreet Cruise? (2010 cruise cost breakdown)
Any of you past cruisers our there also feel free to comment below on your experiences/opinions with the cruise pricing and if you think its worth the money!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Backstreet Boys Share Cruise Details

Found this article on Artists Direct entitled, Backstreet Boys Share Cruise Details.

Backstreet's back.

The Backstreet Boys have announced details for this year's Backstreet Boys cruise. Departing from Miami on October 25, the three-night cruise will celebrate the 20th anniversary and reunion of the boy band.

Oh hell yes!

The event will include live music, a private beach party, games, Q&A sessions, contests and more. Plus, prodigal Boy Kevin Richardson is back!

"Having Kevin [Richardson] onboard for the first time has already made this our best cruise yet!" said Brian Littrell. "We're back together again to party on the high seas." Nick Carter added, "This year's cruise is going to show our fans how special they are to us and how thankful we are for 20 years of support."

It's been 20 years of Backstreet amazingness! Happy anniv, BSB dudes.

Any BSB fans hitting the high seas? Have you ever gone on one of their cruises? How was it? Get cruise info at BackstreetBoysCruise.com

—Maggie Panancione

My only take away from this is that they mentioned the Q&A. Perhaps they're bringing that back for the third cruise, which would be wonderful!

Monday, September 10, 2012

MixTape Festival Recap

I know I'm super late on this review, but better late than never! I definitely wanted to share my experiences at MixTape Festival. I think I can best describe the event as an emotional roller coaster, which seems very fitting since we were just a few hundred yards away from Hershey Park and its crazy coasters. In all, I was super frustrated for a lot more of the weekend than I would've like to have been, but for the most part the Backstreet Boys and other artists at the event made up for it.


So after months of anticipation, the fun started off with a drive up to Hershey Park. Luckily we didn't hit traffic and made pretty decent time. I found it so overwhelming when I first arrived. We needed to check-in to the hotel, check-in for the VIP, meet up with friends, change, and grab some much needed lunch. Somehow we managed to get this all done, but not without a few hiccups. Any of you other attendees who did the VIP know what hiccups I'm referring to. But for those who did not, let's just say it was quite the cluster trying to check-in. They had 2 people checking in probably 2,000 people. People waited HOURS, to the extent where they had to miss the opening acts. Completely unacceptable for "VIP" treatment. But I was able to quickly put that behind me and kick the festival off with a bang.

Aaron Carter was the first to open up the set. Right before he came on, the sky opened up and it poured cats and dogs. Unfortunately his set got cut short; he only did 3 songs. This made me kinda mad because they had a DJ on after him. C'mon guys, cut the DJ short, not Aaron! I probably hadn't seen Aaron in 10+ years, so even though it was short-lived, it was a treat to see him. The whole time he was on stage I just couldn't get over how much he looked like his brother. Even the mannerisms were spot-on.

I can't be the only one who think he looks just like Nick.
In efforts to stay dry as much as I could, I decided to forgo my spot in front of the stage and hang out in the VIP tent. Word on the street was that Andrea Barber, or you may better know her as Kimmie Gibler, was wondering around and taking pictures. I didn't have any luck, so I decided to do my "free" massage. Very delightful 7 minutes indeed. Nothing horribly exciting happened the rest of the day. The New Kids kept popping into the VIP tent randomly. But never for more than 30 seconds at any given time. Just enough to get everyone screaming and then they'd leave.

Donnie saying hi in the VIP tent
By this point in the day, there were no artists I was particularly excited to see. Meanwhile the blockheads were already setting up camp, filling up the area in front of the stage. I pretty much just wandered around, trying to keep dry and wait for NKOTB and Kelly Clarkson. As the sky got darker, The Fray took the stage. I enjoyed their set, though overall it wasn't as lively and upbeat as I was hoping.

Me, Sara, and Ash looking oh so fashionable while trying to stay dry
Finally the New Kids on the Block were ready to come out. I noticed at the stage further from where they were supposed to perform, about 30 security guards huddled in 1 spot near backstage. Well if all my experiences have taught me nothing in life, where ever there are security guards there are musicians not too far away. My hunch proved to be right. The New Kids made a spectacular entrance and drove across the stadium. So at least I had a good view for a portion of the show.

The set was pretty much exactly the same as the set they do on NKOTBSB, even with all the remixes and stuff. The only difference was that they had a different opening song. I truthfully didnt mind the redundant set because I knew all the words, though it certainly would've been nice to see something at least a little different. Oh well. Had a great spot when the guys were in the middle.

My fave part of the show- Joey and his son singing Tonight

After New Kids, it was time for Kelly Clarkson. Thus I left the New Kids set a song or 2 early and this proved to be a great decision because I was able to get front row for Kelly. This is also thanks to Ash and Cort. Thanks girls! Her set was great. I love how humble and down-to-earth she is. I felt slightly bad because there didn't seem to be too many people who watched her. Once again, I think all the blockheads were waiting to see the New Kids at the after party. However, in the middle of her set, Joey came out and did a song with her. That was pretty neat. But I still think my favorite part of her set was Breakaway. I just love that song.

Front row for Kelly Clarkson
So after Kelly was the after party. I wasnt sure what to expect, but by the time I got there the place was a zoo. I pretty much just stayed long enough to see the New Kids say 'hi' and then left. The problem was I couldn't really see or hear them, so I felt there was no point in staying there any longer, especially considering I knew I needed my rest for Saturday.


Saturday was the day with literally everything going on! I knew it would be an exhausting day, and boy was it. First on the agenda was supposed to be our meet & greet with New Kids on the Block. Or so we thought. And so we were told. But clearly I had too much faith in the organizers. I should've known better. After waiting probably about an hour, being escorted into the tent where the New Kids were taking their pictures, all the VIP Bs were escorted out of line and told to go back later. Ugh, are you kidding me? Not only did this now mean we had a conflict with the BBQ, but they specifically told us we would be "fast-passed" And it meant our pain-staking efforts of finding a group with 2 Danny girls was all for nothing. I think that it what made me cry the most.


Well, after the crew and even my friends had to practically drag me out of line without our M&G, we headed off to the BSBBQ. Which was also a cluster of disorganization that I wont even get into or it will make me upset. Before I get into the fun stuff, my only other complaint was the location because everyone in the stadium could see what was going on, as well as all the folks waiting to take their picture with New Kids. I realize I'm getting nit picky in an otherwise great event, but those were my few negatives on this. But as someone who paid $250, I expect a bit more organization from GroundCtrl and I would've liked to see it held in a bit more of a private location.

Anyway, the Backstreet Boys showed up about an hour late, which was pretty good for them. Before they showed up- I spent 5 minutes of that time enjoying my hotdog. The rest of the time I frantically tried to find 3 other people to complete our NK picture group, that was messed up earlier. I felt like a lawyer as I negotiated between everyone. "Okay, if she stands next to Danny would you be willing next to stand next to Jon? Well, let me check with my group and I'll get back to you with a counter offer." I think I ran back and forth like 5 times, but we were eventually able to close the deal and miraculously found 2 Danny girls. I think I deserve a medal for that one.

Once the Backstreet Boys showed up, they didn't have mics so it was a little tough to hear them. But they gave a quick little intro on their loudspeakers and said they'd be coming by to mingle and play games with us. As most of the girls swarmed the tables where they were, I decided to hang back a bit with my friends and see if being patient and not a crazy person might pay off. Unfortunately it did not pay off. Major bummer. I'm a little regretful and wish I was a bit more proactive, because it seems most other people who attended the BBQ had really great stories. But alas, I cant be everywhere at once.

I found the event almost too overwhelming to process. You had each of the 4 guys scattered around the lawn, so I was torn on where to go! AJ was serving food, but I had already eaten so I didnt feel the need to go get more food. Nick was swarmed. Or at least he appeared to be. Howie was also going from table to table. And Brian was doing Wylee pre-orders. I didn't buy anything, but my friend Jessica did and was so gracious as to let me hop in the picture with her.

Me, Brian, and Jessica at the BBQ
After I got my pic with Brian, they started the games. They played cornhole and horseshoes with some fans. This was fun to watch. Each of the boys selected 3 fans to play with. So I felt like you could get a front row watching any one of them. I hopped around a bit to see each guy play.

Comical Video of Nick and AJ at the BBQ

AJ playing horseshoes
Nick trying to fix the horseshoe pole
After some of the games, I also snagged a picture with Howie. I was pretty pleased with how it came out. I was also pleased with just the overall event. I thought all the guys were in great spirits. Even Nick. They all took a bunch of pictures, really chatted with the fans, and seemed to be enjoying themselves. I really hope they decide to do more events like this in the future.

Me, Howie, and Kristen
After the fun and games, they did the meet & greet picture. Our group proved to be super disorganized. They were supposed to be in groups of 10, which we did. But we had no game plan and thus our picture turned out a bit chaotic. At least its a good representation of MixTape overall.

When I met the guys, they all commented on our shirts. Even though I cant take credit for making them, I do take credit for wearing it with pride.

New Kids on the Block Meet & Greet

After the BSB meet & greet, we hightailed it over to the New Kids meet & greet for take 2. I was so proud of myself for organizing our group after it was messed up earlier. However those efforts also proved to be in vain, because one fan who was leaving the event told us that the groups were all off sync and they were just taking the next 10 girls in line. Not the preorganized groups. Are you F-ing kidding me MixTape?? I'm not sure these people realize how much effort goes into these picture groups. I personally don't really care, but a lot of girls do.

Well, we finally made our way up to the front of the line. I was kinda nervous to meet them, since Ive never met them before. I don't know them nearly as well as I do the Backstreet Boys, nor do I honestly care as much.  Though all the chaos seemed to help keep me distracted. I was just so busy trying to arrange our groups such that everyone was as happy as possible.

However as we inched closer and closer to the front of the line, I could see the New Kids and to be frank, how miserable they looked. I think we must've been the 1200th or people they met that day, and it showed on their face. But despite how tired they were, they all very super pleasant to meet. I was impressed. Despite all the madness, our picture came out great.

Is it bad to say I was just happy I didn't have to stand next to Danny?
The Remainder of Saturday

The rest of the day was filled with lots of great artists and fun. The Wanted. LL Cool J. Carly Rae Jepsen. I found myself to be rather antsy that day and bounced around from either stage, the Wylee Party, and the VIP tent. Just trying to keep cool amid all the acts. Plus I was trying to spend a little bit of time with all my friends and fam.

Me and Kristen

Me and my bro
I tried multiple times to see Brian at the Wylee party. It probably took a good 3-4 hours before the crowds finally died down and I could actually make my way up front. He was so gracious doing autographs for everyone. I was actually able to chat with him for a hot second. I just told him how great the bbq event was and that we'd love to see more of those types of events in the future. In typical Brian fashion, he just made a joke about he was really hoping to be grilling at the event and was disappointed to see that it was catered.

Brian at the Wylee Party
Another highlight of the day for me was seeing 98` reunite. I had never seen them before, but I had their CDs back in the day so it was a lot of fun to see them perform. The great thing about seeing them was that I think 90% of the crowds were camped out on the other stage by that point. So I was able to walk up last minute and get a pretty decent view. See pic below.

Then was the main event. NKOTBSB! Another fantastic performance by both groups. It didnt really occur to me until we were at the concert that this would be THE last time NKOTBSB would be performing, for well...indefinitely. That made it really special. My friend Ash also pointed out either during IWITW or SMTMOBL that this would be the last performance by the Backstreet Boys without Kevin. And as a Howie girl, she was rather upset this would be the last time Howie sung Kev's verses. I never thought of that either! So it was a bitter sweet moment. I was just happy to be a part of it.

The show was pretty much what you're used to seeing. They had a few fun/unique moments though. I loved when Brian and AJ came out during Please Don't Go Girl. Clearly AJ sings that much better than Joey. The Wanted also came out at one point and they sang Im Glad You Came. So definitely a fun show!

After the concert, they had the after party in the VIP tent. It was a bit more lively that night because the New Kids and even some Backstreet Boys showed up. Sadly the one thing I got out of this experience was just how much more interactive the New Kids are. It pains me to admit it, but just in the hour or so I was there that night, I could see how the New Kids cruise would be a lot more fun. I see Donnie and Joey working the crowd while Howie is standing there with his beer watching them. I wanted to run up to Howie and yell, "Do something!" But hey, at least Howie showed up. And surprisingly Brian showed up for a bit as well.

The gang at the after party

Softball Game

This was a fun event! Nick didn't show up, and I think Team Backstreet definitely needed him. Though Im not sure it would've helped. We ended up losing 4 to 9. But we sure put in a solid effort. I think I'll let the pictures/videos speak for themselves on this portion, as this post is running a lot longer than intended.

The New Kids celebrating One Out
Brian trying to get the ball from Donnie's dog
Donnie enjoying what I can only imagine to be a beer at 10am

Howie at bat

Jon didn't play. But was quite entertaining to watch in the dugout with Joey's son
AJ playing in the field

Monday, September 3, 2012

Backstreet Cruise 2013 Officially Announced

Well, the big news has finally come in. Backstreet Boy Cruise 2013 has officially been announced. Time to pop open the champagne and let the planning begin!

Everyone get excited!

I certainly hope to be there and hope you all can make it as well. If any first time cruisers have any specific questions, feel free to post them in the comments below or email me directly and I'll do my best to answer them. Or if any past cruisers want to chat as well, I'd love to hear from you as well! Just to caveat, I have no affiliation with the Backstreet Boys, Rose Tours, or Ground Ctrl. I also want to say that I've had a lot going on in my life outside of the BSB world, so I'm not sure how often I'll be updating my blog going forward. But we shall see...

In the meantime, you can find a ton of info on backstreetboyscruise.com. Here are a few highlights below:


Reservations start with the Past Cruisers and Fan Club Presale on October 3rd at 12:00PM EST. General on sale reservations start on October 4th at 12:00PM EST.


Friday, Oct. 25, 2013      Miami, Florida    12:00PM(board)
Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013   Bahamas     10:00AM - 7:00PM
Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013     Fun Day at Sea
Monday, Oct. 28, 2013    Miami, Florida     8:00AM

Types of Cabin Double Triple Quad Single
1A - Inside Various Decks Upper & Lower Beds Only $699 N/A N/A $1,299
4A - Inside( No View) Deck 4 Fwd or Aft $799 $749 $699 $1,399
4B - Inside (No View) Deck 4 Mid or Deck5 Fwd/Aft $879 $829 $779 $1,479
4C - Inside (No View) Deck 5 Mid or Deck6 Fwd/Aft $929 $879 $829 $1,529
4CS - Inside Match Program (No View) Various Decks $929 N/A N/A N/A
4D - Inside (No View) Deck 6 Mid or Deck 7 Fwd/Aft $979 $929 $879 $1,579
4E - Inside( No View) Deck 7 Mid $999 $949 $899 $1,599
4I - Inside (No View) Deck 11 Fwd $999 $949 $899 $1,599
PT - Port Hole Ocean View Deck 4, 5 or 6 Fwd $999 N/A N/A $1,599
6A - Ocean View Deck 4 Fwd/Aft $999 $949 $899 $1,599
6B - Ocean View Deck 4 Mid or Deck 5 Fwd/Aft $1,049 $999 $949 $1,649
6C  - Ocean View Deck 5 Mid or Deck 6 Fwd/Aft $1,099 $1,049 $999 $1,699
6CS - Ocean View Match Program Various Decks $1,099  N/A  N/A  N/A
6D -  Ocean View Deck 6 Mid or Deck 7 Fwd/Aft $1,099 $1,049 $999 $1,699
6E - Ocean View Deck 7 Mid $1,699 $1,649 $1,599 $2,299

OB - Obstructed Ocean View Balcony Suite Deck 11 $1,999 $1,949 N/A $2,599
JS - Ocean View Balcony Suite Deck 11 $2,199 $2,149 N/A $2,799

GS - Ocean View Balcony Grand Suite Deck 6 $2,399 $2,349 $2,299 N/A
Owner's Suite - Ocean View Balcony Penthouse Suite N/A N/A $4,000 N/A

Additional charges: Taxes, government fees, prepaid gratuities,entertainment fees, credit card fees and security charges are $249 per person. Include with you final payment. (Taxes are subject to change)