Day four was the fun day at sea, but I’m not sure how much fun most of the day was. I woke up and immediately set about making myself ready for the photo opportunity. We were told in line that this was NOT a meet and greet, so we shouldn’t expect that, but since I’ve never done a five star at a concert, I didn’t know any difference. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I knew that there would be a line. We were told that group A would go in the morning and then group B in the afternoon. So there was plenty of time for me to rest up and get ready before the seemingly endless waiting I knew was coming. I got my shower and put on the dress I’d packed for this very occasion. The problem is that when I put it on, I thought I looked…wide. So I took it off and changed into shorts and a tank top. Not the best outfit for a photo op, but I was comfortable and that’s all that mattered to me. After all, I’m a married woman and while I wanted to look decent, I really don’t care what the guys think of my clothes or my body. I didn’t look like I just fell out of bed; I looked like I was on vacation.
Anywho, after getting dressed I made my way up a few floors to meet up with part of my photo group. They were still getting ready, and I utilized their cabin blow dryer and an outlet so that I could (mostly) straighten my hair. When the time came, we went down a flight of stairs and met up with the rest of our photo group. Since we were all there, it was time to head up and get in line.
In the email from Rose Tours, we were ALL told that we needed a group of ten in order to have our pictures taken with New Kids on the Block. So, our group had ten members before we got in line. In our group, there were two girls for each guy, as was the norm. There were women holding up signs advertising for what they were missing in order to fill their photo groups. The line was long, and I stupidly assumed that everyone waiting in line was in a group of ten, as the email clearly stated that those not in a group of ten would be sent to another area in order to fill a group of ten. We waited and walked, watching the seas when a window presented itself. As we got closer to where the photos were being taken, Rose Tours people were there to tell us how it would go.
No bags of any kind.
No time for conversation.
We knew from people coming out of their own photo op how the guys were positioned. From memory, left to right were Donnie, Danny, Jordan, Joey, and Jonathan. Everyone said it was quick, but if you did it right, you’d have a chance to hug every guy. I was banking on this because this was my one chance. When we’d gotten close enough, they punched a small hole in our wristbands to signify that we’d had our photo taken. Then it was time to go into the room with the guys.
A few years back, I sailed on Victory with my father. The first night of that cruise, I’d gone to karaoke and had a good time. The room that the meet and greet…photo op… was in was the same room I did karaoke. It brought back memories. There were Rose Tours people just inside the door, taking handbags and wristlets from all the women coming in. You were allowed nothing but your Sail and Sign card, which I wore in a lanyard around my neck. Then the line snaked around the back of the room and over to another Rose Tours person who was counting off groups of ten.
Let me say that again. There was a guy counting off groups of ten. They weren’t asking how many were in your group, but just counting to ten and cutting the line. Our group of ten had been together for quite a while, but they didn’t care. Instead of sending people away who didn’t have ten, they were just moving people through in order to get the pictures done.
I understand why they did this. Sure, I was upset a little that our photo group was split, but from a business standpoint, I get it. They have a job to do and that’s that. As a fan you have your favorite guy, but really you’re in a picture with that guy, even if you aren’t standing next to him. I was fortunate enough to be standing next to Joey McIntyre, who’s been my favorite New Kid since 1988, but I was happy just to be on the same boat as they were! I’d have stood next to Earl or Victor if they’d told me to! (those are NK bodyguards, in case you didn’t know) I was getting a picture with NKOTB. I was happy.
Two of our group members were drafted for the group in front of us. This meant that we got two people from the group behind us. As I said, I was still able to stand with Joey. Our group moved in, ready to get up there, and I noticed that they had snacks and stuff for the people working. I mentioned the bag of Doritos to the guy telling people when to go up on stage and he looked like I’d just handed him a winning lottery ticket! He asked for the Doritos and then directed us to the stage. This is where I got another Donnie hug, another Danny hug, my first Jordan hug, and then FINALLY got to speak to Joey!!!
Back in 2009, Joey was doing a book drive on the Full Service tour. He was looking for volunteers and I was chosen to help out at the Scranton, PA, show. Long story short, I turned to find him standing right next to me and barely said a word to him. This time, though, I put my arms out in hug position and said, “Guess I’m with you!” I smiled at him, he smiled at me, and started singing a little off-the-cuff song about being together. I could have died a happy woman just then. That was my ultimate fangirl moment: Joey McIntyre was singing to me!!! After the photo op, I got my hug from Jonathan, who had said something about drinking to which I replied, “good to know I’m not the only one getting drunk on this boat.” In truth, Jon was probably feeling good most of that cruise. Jordan was the only one I did NOT see drinking, and that’s because he’s been sober for a few years now.
After the photo op, we decided to head to Lido (headache) deck. This was when we decided to be a little bit crazy and just sort of hang out all day. We ate some food and I took a nap and we even witnessed some women almost come to blows over a chair that was holding a spot for an elderly passenger. It was actually rather amusing, looking back, even if at the time I was worried that there would be actual punches thrown.
Duets at Dusk happened… This was a contest run by Joey McIntyre where fans who were cruising could submit a video for the chance to sing with him. He was looking for five singers and ended up choosing seven. I submitted a video, but it wasn’t anything special. I really didn’t care if he picked me or not and I was relieved when he didn’t. With my concert coming up in a week and a half, I need to save my voice a little. (and after the rehearsal last night, I realize that I need to really work on my breathing.) The women who were chosen were good. … And I’m really kinda torn writing this because while they were GOOD, I really don’t think any of them were to gush over. They were mostly on pitch, but anything off COULD be blamed on nerves. Hell, I’d be throwing up if you asked me to sing in front of all those people WITH JOEY MCINTYRE!!! I will say that they were amusing, they had decent voices, and NONE of them showed any signs of being a first soprano. I’m willing to bet that MOST of them were altos. There were two …no. I’m going to stop because this is where my mind starts working, thinking about throwing out some operatic video should he do this next year. Even if I were to get on the boat for a cruise next year, I don’t know if I would want to set myself up like that. Besides, I’ll be in Bicentennial next year as well, and those concerts mean more to me than five minutes on stage with Joe Mac. Sorry, Joey. You come to my stage and I’ll sing with you. Otherwise, I’ll just have to enjoy (unfairly) critiquing your choices. They were good AND they had the guys to get up on stage with Joey. End of review.
The final deck party was supposed to go all night, but apparently the Carnival people didn’t like that too much. You see, there were lights set up all over the deck and there was rain in the area. It even rained on us for a few minutes that night, even though the ship was trying to avoid the storms. (South Beach was flooding that day, but since there is no drainage in South Beach, this isn’t as uncommon as one would think.) I stayed with my Vancouver friends for a while before one left the party to go to bed. Had I known she was leaving for the night, I would have said goodbye… Shortly after I got another kiss from Donnie, Jenn and I left our area to grab a beverage and snack. We met up with another friend and chatted for a bit over pizza. While we were sitting down, I noticed some lights off in the distance. Yup. It was land. I wasn’t happy because I wasn’t ready for the party to end. We went back to the main area and got back into the party crowd.
And then Donnie stopped the party and pointed out something that I thought was in the distance. Only it wasn’t. The high rises of South Beach were passing right next to the boat. We were back in port. Chants of “turn the boat around” broke out. Donnie told us that Carnival had told him it was unsafe for us to be on deck with the rain and electricity, to which we replied, “hell no, we won’t go.” I have to say the funniest part of us all realizing where we were was the fact that EVERYONE took out their phones and immediately started checking email, facebook, twitter, etc, right in the middle of the deck party.
It was hard to say goodbye to my friends. Many tears were shed on the headache deck that morning. The hardest for me was saying bye to Jenn from Vancouver. We’d been chatting almost daily since October, getting to know each other, and keeping each other sane. I was looking forward to meeting her almost more than I was looking forward to the cruise itself. Then once we finally get to spend some time face to face, it was over in the blink of an eye. This is someone that I never would have known if not for New Kids on the Block, and this is also someone I now consider one of my closest friends.
She left Lido deck before I did, but even I didn’t stay up all night. I hung around for a while after Donnie and Jon said good night, finally heading down to my cabin around twenty til five in the morning. I took down my part of our door decorations and finished packing most of my things, leaving only my travel clothes and hygiene things out for after my nap. We were being paged to leave the boat at around seven, and I was off the boat and heading to the airport shortly after eight. The trip home was sad, knowing it was over, and I even slept for a while on the second leg of my flights back to PA. Once I finally got to my van in Harrisburg, I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn’t on Lido deck anymore, as when certain songs would come on my radio, my natural inclination was to jump up and down while screaming the words. That doesn’t work as well on the interstate.
My husband came out to my car almost as soon as I pulled in the driveway. I think he may have been happy to see me. My kids were certainly happy, as they fairly bounded out of their bedrooms to hug me, and I don’t think any of them wanted to let me go. Being home was bittersweet for me, as I was ecstatic to be home, but really wanted to be back on that boat. (though I kept the sensation for a few days, as it seemed like my world was still rocking on the waves)
NKOTB Cruise 2013 was so much more than I could have ever imagined it would be, and I didn’t even discuss the Back Rub!!! There were people I wanted to meet up with but didn’t. There were others that I met and didn’t realize it was them until after I was home! Some I only saw for a few minutes and others I spent a great deal of time with. People keep asking me how it was, and I tell them it was amazing, but it was so much more than that… It was like winning the five hundred million dollar Powerball jackpot.
…I wonder if lightning can strike twice?