Since I'm being so slow getting my full review up, I'm taking a brief break to feature a guest blogger. I'm so happy to have my most frequent guest blogger back and sharing her most exciting post to date. Chrissy is the biggest Brian girl I know, but today she wants to share an AJ story. This is her tale on winning the AJ scavenger hunt and the super amazing prize that followed. Be sure to check out the rest of her cruising adventures on her blog, From the First Day, or follow on her twitter.
Anybody who has followed the link to my blog from this blog knows that I am a huge Brian Littrell fan. But what happens when each cabin only had to choose one guy when we were presented with the Backstreet Boys Scavenger Hunt and I was rooming with an AJ fan? What do you do when that AJ fan is a single mother of two young girls and rarely gets to attend Backstreet events because she lives in Oklahoma where the Boys never visit? The answer is simple…we go for the AJ clues in the Scavenger Hunt!
Actually, my roommate (Cory) and I read all of the clues first to see which might be the easiest to find. We knew right away where the first clues for all five guys would be hidden and we decided we would, in fact, go for the AJ clues. We had no idea how this Scavenger Hunt was actually going to work. Would there only be one clue when we got to the destination so whoever found it first would actually be pretty much guaranteed the win if they found all of the clues? Or would there be several clues so that multiple people would have to battle for the prize? We had no idea and we didn’t want to waste any time once we got on the ship to start looking for these clues in case there was only one clue.
Our first clue read:
“Clue #1 - We all know AJ is covered in body art. Since the ship knew we were coming they wanted to honor him and display a picture close to his heart. Find this piece of artwork and you could be the one to make AJ twerk.”
We knew that where we had to go to find this clue was right there when the ship is first boarded and we were lucky that we were one of the first groups to board the ship. As soon as we boarded, we headed to where the first clue was placed. However, we didn’t see the clue at first. It wasn’t until a second sweep around the location that I spotted the “picture close to his heart.” And underneath that picture….an envelope with the Rose Tours logo! We quickly opened it up and read the second clue:
“Clue #2 - AJ loves to bet and roll the dice and some may call it a vice but it is really one of his special trades. You will find the next clue on his favorite card the Ace of Spades.”
We took off to where we knew the next clue would be. We later found out that we were able to take the whole first clue and not just the envelope. When we went back to see if the “picture close to his heart” was still there, we were disappointed to see that it had been taken. I guess we weren’t sure if the envelopes would be replenished or not as people came to find the clue and we wanted to waste no time in case they were and we weren’t the first to find one of these said envelopes. We even walked right past Howie going up the stairs to our next location. It would have been the perfect time for photos but all we did was say “hi” and just kept on going. We wanted that one on one experience with AJ.
We knew exactly where we needed to head for the next clue and went straight there with all of our luggage still in hand. We weren’t going to waste anytime going to our cabin first to drop it off or to eat lunch even though my tummy was rumbling. We started searching the next location and there appeared to be a Carnival staff meeting occurring as we were searching. One of the staff members saw that we appeared to be looking for something so he asked if he could help us. We explained that we were doing a scavenger hunt and showed him the clue. The staff member went into a Carnival Office and came back out with an Ace of Spades and a stuffed Big Bird. He gave us the Ace of Spades and told us that the Big Bird was our next clue. Well that clue was a bit more vague than the previous two clues but we immediately associated the toy with children. We knew that there were several children’s clubs around the ship and suspected that was where we were going to find the next clue. Truthfully, we had no idea how many clues there were total for each guy and how much longer we would be searching. For all we knew, there were twenty more clues we still had to find.
As we were walking to the first location to find the next clue, we walked right by the arcade where we just so happened to notice a slew of Big Birds just like ours in one of those claw machines. It seemed like as good of a place as any to start our search for this next clue. We searched all over that arcade with no luck. Maybe it was in one of the kid’s clubs after all. There were three of them on the ship due to each of them serving a different age group. We looked in the first and found out that because there were really no children on this cruise, these rooms were being used as storage space for Rose Tours. While trying to find the second kid’s area (or maybe it was the third, I don’t remember now), we somehow ended up in the Spa area. And who was standing there? Mr. Nick Carter. There was not another single fan around and it would have been a perfect time to get that elusive photo with him that everyone attempts to get on the cruise. But, we continued on with our scavenger hunt search instead. After finding nothing in the second and third kid’s areas we made our way to the back of the ship and the water slides. Nothing there. We rechecked the arcade where we originally saw the Big Birds but nothing had changed…there was still no clue there.
That was when we decided to head back to the original location that Clue #2 had led us. On the way, we ran into the Rose Tours staff member who seemed to be in charge of the Scavenger Hunt. After we showed her what we were given as the next clue, we discovered that these were fake clues! The Carnival staff members had nothing to do with this Scavenger Hunt so this staff member that gave us Big Bird had sent us on a wild chase to search for non-existent clues! I was really afraid by that point that someone else had happened to stumble upon the real Ace of Spades we were supposed to have been searching for this entire time, especially since we searched and we searched and we could not find anything. Apparently, fellow cruisers that walked by picked up on the fact that we were looking for something and they decided to do some looking of their own, even though we found out that they had no clues of their own to have had led them there. It was at that point that we figured out that there was really only one set of clues for each guy and as long as we could find all of them, we were going to have a special event with AJ. I can’t even tell you how long we spent at that location looking for that clue. I think we even gave up a time or two and just left the location because we were frustrated. We were getting tired of carrying our luggage around so we decided to take a break and drop our stuff off in our room.
It must have been much easier to search for clues without our stuff in tow because once we returned to the location, Cory found that dang Ace of Spades card! Attached to it was an envelope with our next clue:
“Clue #3 – You are well on your way to winning but now let’s take a break and maybe grab something hot to drink. Just relax and maybe you will even find some new FRIENDS, you never know!”
We knew where to go right away and made our way there. This new location was much smaller than the last so we thought we would have a much easier job of finding this next clue. However, there were more people in this much smaller place than in the last and we wanted to be careful with how we approached our search. The clue wasn’t anywhere obvious so when we started to lift chairs to look under, we were given strange looks and asked what we were doing. We were truthful and explained that we were looking for the next clue for AJ’s Scavenger Hunt. Once again, we couldn’t find the clue.
Cory and I were taking a moment to rethink the clue when we were approached by Laura and her cabin mates. They told us the exciting news that they had just won the prize for Kevin’s Scavenger Hunt! Because they were already done with theirs, we figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask for some help in completing ours. And it is a good thing we did because I’m pretty sure Ana found the clue in the first place she looked. So now it was time to open the envelope and find out where we were going to
be sent next….
“Clue #4 – Last year AJ was so excited for this event but the rain caused it to FLOP. Go where the event was supposed to be held and look for the sign from it and the final clue will be on top. You might want to get close but be careful not to fall in.”
My first thought was, “Is this clue really where I think it is? Where pretty much everyone on the ship is right now eating or getting ready for sail away? It has to be long gone by now!” So we went outside in the rain and attempted looking for the clue. There were so many places it could be hiding. Were we looking for a sign specifically from AJ’s Belly Flop event or were we looking for a sign for the location that the event was supposed to occur? And then Laura pulled through for us! The sign for AJ’s Belly Flop competition with a soaking wet envelope attached to it.
Because of how wet the envelope was, we took the greatest care in opening it so that whatever was inside it would not be destroyed. Based on the number of clues that the Kevin group had received, this envelope was supposed to be the announcement that we had won the prize. Sure enough…
“Congratulations!!! You are the winner of AJ’s Scavenger Hunt. Please come to the Rose Tours Hospitality Desk located on Promenade Deck 9.”
We had won!!!!!!!!!! The trip hadn’t even officially started yet and we were guaranteed a personal event with one of the guys! And we were the only ones that were going to get this prize for AJ. We went to the hospitality desk and turned in our clues to collect our prize winning envelop that would tell us everything….except all it told us was when and where we needed to meet a Rose Tours staff member to take us to our prize and we had no idea what it was. So of course, we spent all of our free time speculating what it might be.
Our original event was supposed to occur on Sunday night but when it was announced that the itinerary was being switch, we assumed our event was then changing to Saturday night. So, on Saturday night we headed down to where we were supposed to meet Rose Tours and shared in the excitement of our event with the girls we knew who had won the Howie Scavenger Hunt and were also waiting for their event.
Because we are very used to Backstreet time, we didn’t think a lot about the time once 6pm came and our Rose Tours person wasn’t there yet. However, fifteen minutes later took us to the Hospitality Desk to find out that our event was still going to be on Sunday but that there was no set time yet. Apparently, Rose Tour had been trying to call our room and had left several messages for us.
Seriously, who is ever in their room during a Backstreet cruise??? And even though our red message light was on, when we tried to check them, it said we had no new messages. We never did figure out how to get those messages.
This meant that our event would be after the beach party on Sunday and we figured we would maybe have to leave a little earlier from the beach than we normally would to ensure that our wait for the tender would not keep us from getting back to the ship to prepare for our event. This was especially the case since we still did not have a concrete time for our event when we set off to the island on Sunday morning.
Once we noticed that the Boys were kind of all doing their own separate things at the Beach Party (and after we got our photos with AJ by the stage), we decided to make our way back to the ship to start getting ready for our very special event. First, we had to take a small detour when we saw Brian and Nick playing volleyball. After a quick game or two with them, we finally made our way to the tender. By that point, I was really getting nervous about our event. We still had NO idea what we would be doing with AJ.
We finally got our call from Rose Tours to establish a time when we were in the cabin getting ready. That had been one reason we wanted to get back at a decent time. Because we could never figure out how to check our messages, we wanted to miss nothing associated with the event….including what time we were going to have to be there. 5pm was the established time so it gave us plenty of time to finish getting ready and then having enough down time to really start freaking out about doing something with AJ. A few short minutes later, another call placed to us stated that AJ wanted to push it back to 5:30 (during the event we found out it was because AJ had been taking a nap). That would give us even more down time to get our fan girl minds going about what we were about to have in store. It also meant that I knew we would only have about 30 minutes with him since our documentary preview event was at 6pm. The Kevin girls had done their event the previous night and had said that their event was also about a half an hour so I guess it wasn’t a total surprise.
We were tired of waiting in the room so we made our way to the meeting spot early. We saw a Rose Tours person approach eventually but he was the guy for the Howie girls, who weren’t quite there yet. Finally, our guy came and told us that he would be right back. At least we knew that we had not been forgotten but we had no idea where he was headed.
That was when we saw him walking back….with AJ! AJ was personally coming to meet us for our event! There weren’t a super huge amount of girls around in the meeting area but we got a small glimpse of what the guys might feel like as they stand there and girls are just looking at them. I felt a little bit like a celebrity as girls tried to get his attention and he graciously told them that he could not take photos at the time. His attention was now 100% on us. That was when we told us that we were going to go have coffee with him. I loved it! It was something in which we could just relax and didn’t have to focus on doing something.
We introduced ourselves as we walked to the coffee shop and he kept repeating our names over and over again. He said that “Chrissy and Cory” sounded like it could be a TV show. He also apologized to us if he forgot our names later. I knew the feeling exactly because I am awful at remembering names, as well.
Now, I will begin this next part by saying that our group talked about a lot of different things and the conversation jumped from topic to topic pretty quickly. So specific details may have been forgotten. There are also some things that Cory and I would like to just keep to ourselves because we feel like they were more private moments among the three of us. I will say that AJ has absolutely no filter on some of the information he was sharing with us. Basically, I am not guaranteeing that everything that was discussed during our time with AJ will be covered here.
We arrived to the coffee shop with AJ and was placed at our table. AJ turned his back slightly to the main concourse so that it would be less likely for fans to recognize the fact that he was there. I was actually quite surprised that more fans didn’t gather around the coffee shop during that time but security did a really good job of keeping fans moving so that they wouldn’t gather around our personal time with him. Thankfully, Laura was able to get some photos for us since Justin was not at our event like he was at the Kevin event. The first order of business was ordering. AJ joked around about how the most expensive item on the menu was the bottled water, other than those “spiked” coffees which he specifically stated that he had to stay away from. I was so proud of him.
AJ was not shy one bit about the amount of stuff he ordered….iced cappuccino, a vanilla milk shake, and a cookie. Then later Jodi (for those of you who do not know who Jodi is, she is Leighanne’s best friend) came by carrying a huge piece of carrot cake. AJ decided he wanted a small piece of that too. He was told that it was already sliced and that only the very large pieces were available. I told him that I wouldn’t mind having some (I love carrot cake) so we shared a piece. Yes, I ate off of the same piece of cake as AJ McLean.
So here are some of the things that were discussed:
New BSB Album: AJ mentioned some of the producers/songwriters that he would like to work with on the next BSB album. The only one that I recognized was Ed Sheeran. I feel like he said that they would start production at the end of this year/beginning of next.
New AJ McLean music: AJ is working on releasing an EP. This way, between his last album and this new music, he can give a two hour show, rather than a one and a half hour show like he would have had to do if he would have toured for his last album.
AJ’s Jewelry Line: We all know that AJ seems to start things and not finish them so we asked about his so called jewelry line that he had hinted about but never followed through. He mentioned that he is actually working on starting a clothing line first, then a children’s clothing line, a sunglasses line, and then the jewelry line will be released.
AJ and Drinking: I asked AJ if he ever felt the pressure to drink on these last two cruises because he is surrounded by alcohol. He stated that now that he is a father, he really has no desire to drink anymore.
AJ and Friends: AJ obviously chose coffee as his event because of his love for FRIENDS. They even had the Central Perk sign displayed on the TV’s in the coffee shop during our event. AJ explained that one of the reasons that he loves the show so much is because it is one of the “things” that Rochelle and he share. He stated a “thing” that each of the guys might share with their wives and this happens to be his. That was how he had to explain it to the guys when he first became a fan of the show. He talked about each of the characters and what he likes/disliked about each. It was at this point that we brought up Laura’s FRIENDS themed door and he stated that everyone kept telling him about this door and that he had to see it.
Halloween Night: According to AJ, it was his idea for the Wizard of Oz costumes on Halloween night. He explained that it had come down to Nick and Kevin as Dorothy and that the final decision was based on the fact that Nick was younger.
Scavenger Hunt: AJ also stated that the Scavenger Hunt was his idea.
Cruise Concert: We told AJ how much we had absolutely loved the concert the previous day and the reasons why we loved it. AJ started a bunch of songs that they wanted to sing. He said that some songs they couldn’t do because they couldn’t get good quality audio files for them. I thought that was very interesting. He talked about how the concept came about because they didn’t want to spoil the “In A World Like This” show for those who had not seen it yet (he had asked if we had seen it and when I told them I had six times, he seemed impressed) so they wanted to mix the show with some other stuff.
AJ was given the signal that he had to wrap it up and we were able to get some things signed. As Cory was having AJ sign Big Bird, we had to quickly explain how the Big Bird came about. He seemed to get a kick out of that one. I had him sign the Belly Flop sign that our last envelop had been attached. Then we got our photos with him. We were each able to get an individual photo and a photo of the both of us.
Once we were off the ship, the Backstreet Boys Instragram posted the photo of both of AJ and us. Thanks to some comments by some friends that we were the one’s in the photo, BSB then actually tagged us in the photo and then they followed us on Instagram! That made me even more happy about the event overall!
So, was it worth it going for the AJ event instead of the Brian event? Absolutely. It was an amazing experience and while I was sitting there I almost forgot that I was having coffee with a Backstreet Boy. It was just as if we were three old friends getting together and having coffee. I’m not sure if they are going to do anything like this in the future, as I know a lot of people were unhappy with the way that it was implemented. If they do not, I am happy that I was one of the five luck cabins to get this opportunity. If they do it in the future, I am sure it will be much more competitive and the chances of me winning again won’t be as high so I am glad I got this opportunity when I did.
I want to thank Rose Tours, Backstreet management, and AJ for giving me this opportunity - an opportunity that I never imagined happening 16 years ago when I became a fan and an opportunity that I never imagined happening even at this point in my fan career. This event is just another reason why I will be a Backstreet fan for life.