Monday, August 9, 2010

The Cruiser's Guide To the Galaxy

Okay, maybe not Galaxy. But possibly Destiny! As you may know, I will not be cruising next year, and therefore I will not be updating this blog much. (I won't say never, because I can't stay entirely silent, but updates will be more rare than regular.)

Part of my reason for deciding not to do the blog this year was that so much of the information would be the same as what's already written. While we don't know the exact itinerary or details, the ports are the same as past years, packing will be much the same, cell phones work the same, etc etc. So instead, what I've done is organized past entries by category so that you can (hopefully) find answers to your questions. And if you don't see something listed, try the search bar on the right.

Happy cruising!

General FAQs: includes arriving at the dock, passport requirements, pricing of items on board, booking flights, and much more.

Booking Your Cruise and Travel

Budgeting and Money

While On Board

Shopping and Packing

Receiving Cruise Details

Past Cruise Recaps

If you have special tips you'd like to share, please do so in the comments. Good luck to everyone booking on Friday!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My Top 12 Moments of the Reunion (Thus Far): Part Two

I started with moments 12-7, and they really do keep getting better.

6. Radio City weekend: Radio City weekend was like the cruise, but on land. Thousands of BHs converged on one place for three days of New Kids madness. And I almost didn't go to the Thursday show. What was I thinking? Could I really have been sitting at home, an hour away, with nothing pressing to do while there was a NKOTB show going on? Thankfully I wised up.

Thursday I met Amy at Radio City and once in our seats we adopted Lisa, who had come from Scotland by herself for the three shows. When the lights went down and the video screens flickered to life, I got goosebumps. Tears started to flow before the curtain rose. And when we could see smoke and "NKOTB" appear in lasers just like the 2008 tour opener, I had chills from head to feet. The rush of the past two years came back at once.

Since I'm naturally impatient, I typically spoil myself on any concert surprises, but I had no idea Naughty by Nature was going to walk out on stage. It almost made me want to give up trying to find things out ahead of time. Almost.

Friday all of my lovely friends arrived in town. Amazingly they trusted me as our tour guide despite my track record of getting lost within three miles of my own house. That's love. The concerts were of course incredible (and extremely emotional), but it was just as good to have us all together again, and bittersweet since we don't know when we will meet next.
Thinking of this weekend makes me really really want a cupcake.

5. Cruise 2009: I would compare Cruise 2009 to being in Candyland. (Or, if you don't like candy, some other fantasy fairytale location. Rum Runner land?) I was in awe of everything around me, from the banners in the atrium to the daily newsletters. Since we didn't know what to expect, everything was a bonus. When we saw a New Kid around the ship or when they appeared at the deck parties, we could hardly believe our luck. I got on the boat knowing only a handful of friends, and by the time we got back to Miami, that number had grown exponentially.

4. Cruise 2010: If anything can beat three days of sun and palm trees with New Kids, it's four days of sun and palm tress with New Kids. Cruise 2010 ranks above 2009 for the no lines, day on the beach, better deck parties, and 10 times the amount of Jon singing. The biggest difference between 2009 and 2010 was that this year, it felt like everyone on the boat was friends. We were all more relaxed, including the guys we were all there to see. I can't imagine Joe's piano singalong happening in 2009. But this year, it fit the vibe, and I soaked up every minute of it.

3. July 26, 2008 CD Preview Party: Back in June 2008, when I was constantly listening to the radio to hear Summertime several times per day, I'd hear this commercial along with it.

As soon as I had heard it, I was on a mission. I have never been so determined to win a contest in my life. I entered on four local stations and then every national station I could find, knowing full well being out of their listening area made me ineligible. Those stations only allowed one entry, but XM allowed unlimited entries, so long as you hand wrote all your information on a 3x5 index card and then hand wrote the (six-line long) address and your return address on individual envelopes. I did that. 107 times.

On July 17, I was sitting at my desk at work around 6:00 p.m. when I got an email from Clear Channel telling me I was a finalist. Shaking, I got my phone out to call and tell my cousin and saw I had three missed calls from a New York area code. A little bell went off in my head, telling me that was the Z100 promotions number (which I knew since I called them more than once trying to find out when they would draw the winner). I immediately hit redial and the woman who emailed me answered and screamed YOU WON!

So there I am, at my cube, screaming and crying and laughing uncontrollably all at the same time. She was trying to tell me what the prize was and I couldn't hear a word of it. People started coming out of their offices and from the other side of the building to see what was going on. The guy who sat in the office across from me said he had never seen anyone so happy at work.

I called my cousin Nickole, who lives 400 miles away in my hometown, because she and I grew up New Kids together. I said, "Where are you?" She said, "Driving." I said, "Don't drive off the road because I won the New Kids trip to LA!" Then we both screamed some more. It's been almost two years and I still can hardly believe I won.

A week later I was on a plane on my way out to LA. This was the day I met Malina and several other BHs I still talk to.

The day of the party, Nickole and I couldn't eat, hadn't slept, and had a hard time saying more than five words in a row to each other without shrieking. None of the winners had any idea what to expect. I was picturing sitting at tables in a dark room while someone pushed play on the CD. In reality, there were less than 150 people in a small rehearsal studio and I was standing not even 10 feet from the NKs while they were on stage. They sang, they joked, they danced, they surveyed our opinions on "This One's For the Children." During Summertime, Donnie sang to me in my strapless sundress. Seriously, this happened!

Then if that wasn't enough, we got to meet and talk to all the guys in small groups. This is the first time I met any of them other than Joe, but I still went to him first. The first thing Danny said to us was that his balls were sweaty. Donnie hugged me and kissed me and hugged me and kissed me and made it clear he was planning to convert a lot of girls come fall. Jon and Jordan did what they do best: looked gorgeous. And just when I thought it was over, they called us back in the room to get one on one photos. The new album hadn't even come out yet, and all of my New Kids dreams had come true.

(My rarely seen "other" photo, taken when Danny was trying to put my hand on Joe's ass.)

Sidenote: Tara, the girl who won from XM, had entered only once.

2. December 20, 2009 House of Blues: House of Blues almost didn't happen. A Nor'easter was threatening the entire east coast, canceling flights, closing roads, and generally wrecking havoc. But Blockheads with plans to see NKs are hard to stop, even if it means leaving a day early or taking 3 a.m. trains to get to Boston.

What catapults HOB to #2 on the list was the weekend as a whole, from walking through the blizzard to Shaw's at 1 a.m. to arriving at the after party so late Donnie was ready to leave.

Within a 24 hour period, I/we:

  • Walked into Hard Rock Cafe, saw flashes, and found out Donnie was there hugging everyone
  • Met Andrea and then shared a bed with her, from which we tweeted each other at 6 a.m.
  • Carried 38 cardboard boxes through Lord and Taylor while I looked for a headband that wasn't $34
  • Almost tripped over Donnie's piano bench before realizing the song he was playing was "I Need You" (Why? I have no idea.)
  • Were surrounded by tinsel
  • Were present for several "very serious messages"
  • Wrapped those 38 boxes with only one paper cutter between us
  • Heard both Jordan and Joe sing O Holy Night
  • Ran into Ricky Bell and Johnny Gill
  • Were attacked with run-by huggings from Donnie
  • Heard Coming Home performed for the first time
  • Saw several Christmas songs performed live, Jordan dressed as Santa, and the reappearance of Joe's gold sequined jacket
  • Watched Andrea dance with Jordan on stage (It's magic!)
  • Got the Full Service treatment with special guests New Edition (the ones who made it through the blizzard at least)
  • Got pics with each New Kid except Jordan, because I didn't want the flash to hurt his eyes
  • Found out Kevin was under the impression Elizabeth was 6'4"
  • Saw Joe, who not only knew who I was but immediately said "I still have your letter and think about your good ideas." (Me: "What letter?" Sigh.)
  • Amazed ourselves by leaving for the after party at 1 a.m., a time when we were usually sound asleep
  • Got hammered on one $11 drink at the after party
  • Stayed up all night laughing and looking at our photos
And now you know why the four of us refer to HOB as the "Best! Day! Ever!"

1. Getting to know my million sisters. The reason I have this blog, the reason why cruise 2010 was better than 2009, the reason why these memories are as good as they are is because I have shared these past two years with you. There's not one thing on this list I experienced without you, from the day of the May 2008 Today Show when I sent my first tweet to when the curtain closed at Radio City Saturday night. The kindness I have been shown by BHs is incredible. Nothing beats meeting someone in person when it feels like you already know everything about each other. People I've never met have asked me to share their fan passes for the Today Show, given me copies of rare mp3s, and sent me their vintage Joe posters because I'd lost mine.

The most generous kindess is what I was shown last summer, at the end of my mother's illness. In those dark weeks and months, I had a place to go to forget reality and smile. And during my worst times, I felt real love from a group of strangers who shared nothing with me but an affinity for the same band. For that, I cannot thank you enough.

The friends I have made in these last two years are now among the closest I have. They're the people I tell my secrets to. When they're happy I feel their joy and I cry with them when things get bad. If all of this were to end tomorrow, we'd still be a million sisters. You all have a special place in my heart.

Addendum: Thank you Jared : )

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My Top 12 Moments of the Reunion (Thus Far): Part One

I warned you that even though the cruise is over, I was bound to blog from time to time, and don't you know that the time has arrived?

We don't know what's coming next, and I look forward to making more memories, but for now I wanted to capture what I consider my top 12 reunion memories. It was going to be a top 10, but 10 just wasn't enough.

Let's start with 12-7. 6-1 will come in the next post.

12. Long Island DVD Screening: Somewhere on my list of childhood daydreams had to have been going to the movies with NKOTB, and in January 2010, I got to. Better yet, the movie we were watching was about them and I got to see it a week before it hit store shelves.

There was also a thrill in the buildup to the screenings, although I probably appreciate it more now than I did then. I was convinced the closest screening to me would be in West Virginia (read: not in a place I had a hope of getting to) and had resigned myself to waiting for my copy in the mail to watch at home in my New Kids-free living room. When I saw that one of the theaters that had been selected was only 45 minutes away, I could hardly believe it, and when I got the email saying I could attend I was giddy. Being part of such a lucky select group made it even more special.
11. Holmdel Let's Get This Book Drive: June 2009 was a rough month. My mother was very very ill and I was going from Connecticut to Pennsylvania as much as I could. Originally, I was supposed to attend the Mohegan show on June 18 with my friend Myka, who I would be meeting for the first time. But I made a last minute decision to buy a ticket for the Holmdel show the weekend before too, even though I'd have to go by myself. It turned out to be the only Full Service show I saw, as I was called home to PA on June 17.

A week or so before the Holmdel show I was sitting in my mother's hospital room wondering if I would be lucky enough to be chosen as a LGT volunteer, and no sooner did the thought cross my mind than I received the invitation email. (One of my small thrills in life: seeing "Joe McIntyre" in my email inbox.) The day of the show was cold and the rain came down hard, but my co-volunteers and I became fast friends. Holmdel is especially notable because it's the closest I've ever come to having a sensible conversation with Joe, despite the fact that said conversation included me mentioning Shoshanna Bean.

10. Atlantic City Casi-NO tour: Last minute decisions are always the best, aren't they? It never occurred to me to buy tickets for AC when the tour went on sale. I had Miami. I had Radio City. I didn't need to fight Jersey shore traffic on Memorial Day weekend for another show, right? So I thought until the Wednesday before the Saturday show, when Elizabeth, Kim, and I decided to meet in exotic Atlantic CIty for one extra show. We met up with Jo there, and while the concert was good, the after party was better. It was the best show after party I've been to, which may have had something to do with seeing this guy.

9. May 16, 2008 Today Show: Yup, this is really #9. I double checked. They actually get better from here.

I had wanted to go to the very first Today Show on April 4, but I couldn't miss work because I had to teach a class that day. I decided then I wasn't going to miss the next one. Remember when we didn't know BHs were champion queuers? My friend and I had this idea that we were going to take the 5:30 a.m. train FRIDAY morning of the show and get there just before 7. Wednesday of that week I turned on the Today Show and found out people were already lining up. And then my friend had to go away for a family emergency and I was left going by myself, just as I decided Friday morning wasn't going to cut it.

The first Today Show taught me a lot. Like
  1. I could tell my husband I was going to go camp on the streets of New York and he would not think I was crazy.
  2. BHs are instant friends. While I was on the train to the city I saw two girls with camp chairs, introduced myself, and they adopted me immediately.
  3. New Kids attract rain.
This was also the day I opened my Twitter account so I could send updates to other fans.

The enormity of the moment didn't hit me until we were finally allowed into the plaza around 6:15 Friday. I walked around the building and saw all of NKOTB on stage together. It was like someone physically pushed me backwards. All my breath went out of me and it became real.
ktsummer Oh and when I came around the corner & saw them all, I almost fell over. It just hit me - WOW  via txt
Even though it was cold and wet and I could see very little through all of the flags, signs, and umbrellas, I wouldn't have missed it for the world. 

8. The Today Show That Wasn't. By the time the second Today Show rolled around, we all knew better than to show up the morning of. So for the September 1, 2008 show, I went in the afternoon before. At first, everything was going great. I was with a group of 4 friends. The sun was out. My husband still did not think sleeping on the street was crazy. We were golden. And then, a guy from NBC came out and told us the show had been canceled.

At first we thought he was a heckler. But as he explained Hurricane Gustav was worsening and the show was devoting all its time to news from the area, we knew he was serious. At the time, there were about 100 girls in line. Some had already been there two days. Others had come in by bus or plane and hadn't booked a place to stay, so there was a fair bit of panic in the crowd. (We were also disappointed, but everyone there understood the reason for the cancelation and agreed that story took priority.)

Within 10 minutes of telling us the show was canceled, NBC and the Plaza security started telling us to get out. Guards were removing the barriers and shooing us off the sidewalk. We said, "We can't leave. The New Kids are going to come here and see us." Every non-fan there thought we were bonkers, but personally, it never occurred to me that they wouldn't come. One guy said we had to leave or he was going to call and have us arrested. The NBC rep kept saying, "Girls, they're not coming. They're not coming." But we were insistent that no, the New Kids really were going to come there and see us. Finally the girls who needed time to make hotel or travel arrangements convinced NBC to allow us to stay for an hour while they made alternate plans.

Around 45 minutes later, a murmur rippled down the line that we were right, and that NKs really were on their way. I have never seen such fierce primping in my life. Makeup appeared as if by magic. After my last Today Show experience of being half drowned, I hadn't bothered doing a thing with myself, but I did change my pants in the middle of the street.

Danny, Jon, and Joe walked down the line, hugging, taking pics, and signing autographs with each girl. Later, after they had left, a Today Show employee told us that when they had picked the guys up from the airport, they insisted on coming straight down to the line, even before they checked in to their hotels.

"Your fans said you would come and none of us believed them," she said to them. "Our fans know us," she said they responded. "They know we're going to be there."

7. Hearing The Block for the First Time: Do you remember (or should I rewind)? I bet you can picture your first listen through The Block clear as day, just like I can. Diving into each track like it was a piece of chocolate cake and you hadn't eaten in weeks. Squeezing your eyes shut so you could hear each voice, each note. Gasping a little when you heard how the lyrics had changed since the "oh oh oh oh" days. Being overcome when you realized this was real. It was 2008 and you were experiencing a brand new NKOTB album. They were together. It was happening. And it was just beginning.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Top 5s of 2010

So I've recapped each day of the cruise, but I haven't wrapped up the whole thing. The best way I could think to do that was two lists: most improved between 2009 and 2010 and top five moments overall. Would love to hear what topped your lists too!

Most Improved Since 2009:

5. Overall energy: Was it just me, or did the whole vibe of the fans seem better this year? I chalk it up to the explosion of Twitter. Last cruise, I knew only a handful of people. This year, it was like everyone on the boat was friends. Maybe I'm just lucky, but I did not meet with a single unpleasant person.

4. Photo op: The 2009 photo op was not ideal for several reasons, one being the severe rockiness of the boat, which obviously could not be controlled. Also I was incredibly hungover and worried I may throw up on a New Kid, but that was not a universal problem. This year the line moved more smoothly, it was easier to arrange ourselves without trying to squeeze between five chairs, and the photographer took two shots instead of one. Plus, we got the pictures more than twice as fast and didn't have to pay for a hi-res download.

3. Deck parties: Every NK participated in the deck parties this year, most of them every night. With the change in VIP set up, most people weren't craning their necks to see nothing but a dark party. The guys really put on a show. They also participated in the themes. Helloooooo tuxedos!
2. Beach day: Last year, I had a great time exploring Nassau, but it paled in comparison to beach day at Half Moon Cay. For starters, Joe wasn't walking around with his shirt off all day in Nassau.

1. Assigned seating: Hands down the biggest and best change of cruise 2010. I easily spent half my time in 2009 waiting in line. I missed eating in the dining room, going down the waterslide, and seeing all the doors. Plus, it caused a lot of fights. (The only fight I heard of in 2010 was in the line for the back rub. Coincidence?)

My favorite moments of cruise 2010:

5. Floating in the waters of Half Moon Cay: Is there a better way to spend a day than drifting in crystal clear Caribbean waters? Yes, if you are sharing the waters with New Kids and/or watching other New Kids limbo on shore.

4. The sort of game show: Jordan being endlessly amused by a microphone? Earl and Armando doing the Soul Train line? Jon talking about Tiffany and man pipes? I don't see Alex Trebek doing that.

3. Open bar:
I love c@ruise! 1:24 AM May 15th via twidroid 

2. Jon's mini concert: I could hardly believe my eyes. And then I couldn't believe them for 20 more minutes. Everyone on the boat had a smile a mile wide the whole time he was singing.

1. Joe's piano bar singalong: Even though I only saw half of it and was in the far back corner of the lounge, this was the ultimate highlight of the cruise for me. It was so relaxed and casual but still amazing. I had tears when I was stuck outside with my ear pressed to the glass, and then I had them again when I actually got inside. I wish every Joe girl on the boat could have been in that room.

Well cruisers, I think that's it for me for cruise blogs. Never say never, maybe I'll find something to write about now and then. And it's very likely I'll write something non-cruise related every once in a while. Thanks for reading, and thanks to everyone who said hi on the cruise. I hope to see you again on a future NK adventure.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Cruise 2010 Day-by-Day Recap: Sunday

I was awakened by two things around 8:30 Sunday morning. The first was a god awful stench. My first thought was "Why does my pillow smell so bad?" But it wasn't the pillow; it was the whole section of the ship. (We found out later that a sewer pipe had burst, or leaked, or something. So it smelled like that.) The second thing was a knock at my door. I thought it was our expected room service, but it turned out to be much better: @yikes77 coming to visit with a bag full of chocolate! When I opened my mouth to greet her, I discovered that I had no voice left. The best I could do was a squeaky whisper.

Shortly after our actual room service showed up. Be warned: when you order toast on Carnival, they mean "toast, singular." Malina and I had a lovely picnic on the queen bed we were sharing, then got up to get ready for the 10:30 photo op.

We lined up right at 10:30. Things seemed to go much more smoothly this year. For one, most people had come prepared in groups of 10. We also started a lot closer to the scheduled start time than last year. The boat cooperated by not lurching in all directions as it did Sunday morning 2009, and I wasn't super hung over as I had been the year before, which helped (mostly me). Some people did not like the set up of the pose, but I liked having half sitting and half standing. I especially liked getting to sort of hide in the back by standing.

For the first time ever, I stood next to Jordan in a photo. My reasoning was this: I have about 8 pictures with Joe and 1-2 pics with every other NK, but zero pics with Jordan. I wanted a shot at a croppable one. Here it is (and here are the rest):
It kind of worked out for me that Jordan decided to grab Linda's head in the middle of the photo. I never said a word to him, just stood there dorkily. I probably should have kept my mouth shut entirely, because that would have prevented the conversation I had with Joe.

Me: Hi, can I hug you?
Joe: Ok.
Me: I'm going to stand with Jordan though.
Joe: Ok, Jordan is over there.

Really? REALLY? Sigh.

After the photo, we had a leisurely brunch upstairs, and then we kind of found ourselves at a loss for what to do. We weren't down for the Back Rub (which already had a crazy line anyway). Normally I would have used the afternoon for pool time, but the last thing we wanted to do after a day at Half Moon Cay was spend time in the sun, so we kind of bummed around. First we walked through the halls of a few decks looking at doors and saw some really awesome ones. My vote would have gone to the cruiser who mounted a video player to her door showing a loop of her performing NKs songs in 1991.
Then we checked out the photo gallery of all the pro shots taken during the cruise. This was my first brush of just missing NKs (so much so that by Sunday afternoon I was being called a curse), as we found out Jon had just been by a few minutes earlier.

Eventually we found ourselves on the shaded area of the pool deck. I had (another) plate of cheese fries and managed to get cheese sauce on my dress. I went downstairs for the Tide stick and to change, and who shows up to have a 10 minute chat while sitting in the seat I was just in 30 seconds earlier? Jon. He had gotten up to leave just as I got back to the Lido deck.

And then, the kicker. Around 4:45, Elizabeth and I decided we were going to go down the water slide. We get up to the Sun deck to find Jon having his own personal meet and greet. I tried to get in line for a photo. Nope, they weren't taking any more people. Ok, so I guess I only had a curse with running into Jon, but I was starting to think the curse was real!

Have you ever failed at a water slide? We have. Elizabeth went first, and we could hear her laughing from inside the slide. She had gotten stuck. A lot. Sorry Biff, but I thought "She must be doing it wrong." The operator must have thought so too, because he kept saying "No, put your head down. Your head down!" I got in thinking, "Watch me put my head down. I got this."

I got about 6 feet. Then I stopped completely. The operator helpfully turned up the water, which did nothing except splash past me as if to say, "You're supposed to be sliding down, like this." I went down the entire slide by sticking my legs out and then pulling myself forward with my heels. It was less of a ride and more of an ab workout.
By the end, we were all laughing like crazy, including the slide operator, who then decided to tell us that the water gets shut off at 5:00 p.m. and that's why we weren't moving. Thanks buddy!

We went back to our table on the Lido deck to listen to Danny's 5:00 fitness talk, which was another of the mystery events. It probably had an official name. I don't know what that was. I had been picturing the Carnival gym staff on stage demonstrating various exercise techniques under Danny's guidance. Not so much. It was just Danny with a mic taking questions from the audience. I could not hear what any of the questions were, but we could hear his answers. Some of the advice was good (although nothing I hadn't heard before from my trainer), and other parts were. . .  odd. Among other things, we learned:
  • All the NKs like to floss
  • Jon gets bloated during concerts because he eats too close to showtime
  • Danny pees several times per day
We had to leave before it was over to pack and get ready for early dinner. Then we changed into our white outfits before our concert started at 9:00 p.m. I'm not going to get into a full review of the concert. It was the same as the Casi-no tour, minus Close To You (anything else missing?). I managed to find enough voice to scream with. Oh, and Joe's solo? No words. I was frozen in place with my hand over my mouth the whole time. This is the only photo I managed to get.

It was about 10:30 when the concert finished, and the deck parties never really got going till after 11, so we went back to our rooms for a bit. I was headed up to the Lido deck around 11:15 in the glass elevators in the atrium when someone said "Is that Joe?" My immediate response was to hit every button in the elevator trying to get it to stop. That didn't work, so I ran down two flights of stairs and then strolled casually over to where the crowd was assembled.

Much like Jon had done earlier, Joe was having his own photo session with a bunch of fans. Yay! I waited my turn, and then made up for my conversation that morning with this genius statement: "Hi, I have 100 extra moxie points because I'm mac pack number 3100-something." Joe: "Ok." SMH. I really should not talk. I'd be much better off just smiling and nodding. Anyway:

I said thank you, walked slowly away for about 10 ft, and then took off at a dead sprint back to my room where Malina, Jaime, and Melissa were still getting ready. Like some kind of sitcom, I burst in the door, screamed that Joe was upstairs taking pics right now, and go go go! Malina ran out with her shoes in her hand.

With those girls taken care of, I finally got up to the Lido deck to meet everyone else. It was pretty empty so we decided to walk around and see if we could find any more NK photo ops. We strolled around for about 20 minutes and ended up at the Atrium bar for a drink. I told the bartender she had gotten a cute pic with Joe earlier.

Bartender: I wish he was performing down here. There would be a big crowd.
Me: Um, yeah, that would be good.
Bartender: But he's in the piano bar.
Me: Hmm (not paying attention)
Bartender: Didn't you want to watch him perform?
Me: I'm sorry, what?
Bartender: Right now, up in the piano bar
Me: (Already running away)

We raced back upstairs to find that Joe had been singing in the piano bar since just after I had gotten my photo. They weren't letting anyone else in, so we had to stand outside, with me pressing my ear to an opening in the partition to try to hear better. Thankfully they let more people in and we were able to get a spot in the very back and saw at least 30 minutes of the performance. This was the highlight of the cruise for me. I was in absolute heaven. My pics didn't come out and I didn't even try to get video, but Malina got some:

He finished around 12:30 or 12:45. I really didn't know how the night was going to get any better, but up we went to the party. The deck seemed extra crowded that night and people were paying more attention to the balcony than other nights. There was barely room to dance. Drank enough Sunday to be level 2 drunk: tipsy but not in danger of falling in the pool.

(You'll notice I haven't said anything about VIP. I never went up there so I don't really have anything TO say. They seem to have changed the set up this year. There was some kind of bracelet system, and the whole VIP area was much bigger. It looked like there were as many people upstairs as downstairs, and that was in a much smaller area. The biggest benefit I can see would be open bar, and lord knows I had had enough of that Friday. However, I have seen a lot of people who have solo pics with NKs in tuxes, and I can't pretend I wouldn't have liked that.)

Highlights of Sunday night included the world's longest (and worst) conga line around the pool, Jon leading a chant of "the roof is on fire," Joe doing Here We Go Again with the other 4 NKs as back up dancers, and Donnie and Jon dancing to La Bamba.

I called 4 a.m. my bedtime again and had my last sleep of the cruise.


Monday morning I awoke at 8 a.m. to the entirely-too-chipper PA announcer and looked out the window to see we were in port. We had a lovely long breakfast next to the pool and then said our goodbyes.

Andrea and I shared a cab to the airport and just happened to leave at the same time as NKOTB. When our cab driver saw them get escorted to their town cars, he said "Who are those men? Did they get arrested?"

My flight to Boston (for work) was packed with BHs but sadly no NKs. Meeting everyone on the plane was a perfect ending to a perfect weekend.

I'll miss you all terribly in 2011, but I already have my fingers crossed for a 2012 cruise. If it is within your means to be on the boat in 2011, I cannot recommend it enough.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Cruise 2010 Day-by-Day Recap: Saturday

When we left off, I had fallen into bed in a drunken stupor around 4 a.m. We had to be in the lounge for the first tenders at 9:00 a.m., so I was planning on getting up at 7:30, but my body decided it did not want to sleep past 6:00. Helpful!

You may remember that one of my favorite things about cruise 2009 was the room service breakfast/coffee delivered after a night of drinking. I was really looking forward to it Saturday morning this year. Too bad it never showed up. I called twice and they just said they were really busy. All I wanted was some coffee and a piece of toast! Yoi.

We eventually made it to the Dynasty Lounge. Wow did I feel awful. My own fault, I realize. All I wanted to do was lay down. Unfortunately there was a delay with . . .  something, and we ended up waiting in the theater until after 10:30. From the conversation around me, I could tell that I was not the only one who wanted to curl up in a ball somewhere, which made it even more entertaining when they called for wristbands "red one," and there was a spontaneous, albeit quiet, "red one!" from the crowd.

If I thought waiting in the lounge was rough, it was nothing compared to the tender. This was about the point I was vowing never to drink again. Eventually, though, we made it to Half Moon Cay, which was so gorgeous you could hardly believe it was real.

Our first order of business was to rent clamshells, and I collapsed onto a beach chair for a bit. Eventually the island started to fill up and the fresh air cleared my head, so I walked around on the beach finding all my friends who were on later tenders. There was a stage on the beach set with 5 microphones, and rumor was there was going to be some sort of performance at 1:00 or 1:30, so off we went in search of lunch.

I had been worried about vegetarian food at lunch, but it was for nothing. The Carnival reps on the phone before we left told me there'd be nothing but salad, but there was actually a ton of stuff including veggie burgers, which the cook offered to prepare on a separate grill for me and then delivered to my table fully dressed. Our lunchtime entertainment was a family of chickens scurrying under the table.

After lunch, we went back to the beach where nothing was happening, but a crowd was gathering around the stage anyway. Eventually we were rewarded when the NKs sped up to the beach in their own boat, like something out of Miami Vice.

I thought there was going to be some kind of performance, so we went up to the side of the stage. Standing in the full sun was almost unbearable. It was scorching hot. That worked out for our benefit, because almost as soon as they hit the stage, Joe and Jon declared they were going swimming and ran off toward the ocean.

I decided there was no way I was going to remain sweating my face off near the stage if there were two NKs frolicking 30 ft away in the water, so off I went too. I didn't swim after them or even bring my camera (above photo is courtesy of my roomie Malina), but it was nice to be swimming in an idyllic setting in the vicinity of New Kids.

I went back up near the stage for a bit and enjoyed the view of Joe walking around in his swim trunks (as he did for the whole day), but after 10-15 minutes I was just too hot up there and had to retreat back to the water.
Elizabeth and I watched most of the beach games while neck-deep in the ocean. That meant we couldn't see much. We were aware people were limbo-ing, but that's about it. I missed the races. Not sure what the other games were. I didn't mind not being able to see because where we were was perfect. We decided we'd like to watch all NKs events from the waters of HMC.

By then it was maybe 2:30-3:00. The rest of the day was centered on staying out of the sun. We had been applying super high SPF throughout the day, but Andrea was bright pink. We walked around looking for shade (which was no longer available under our rooted clamshell) and water. Around 4:00 we decided to head back to the boat, not realizing NKOTB had just done the same. This meant we had a nice welcome party upon arriving back at the Imagination.

I intended to nap before dinner. It didn't work. So we went to dinner. Then we tried to nap again, unsuccessfully. Every time I shut my eyes on the boat I worried I was missing something. Group B had their concert that night. We only had to get ready for PJ night. Beach day followed by PJ night was a great idea. The last thing I wanted to do was put on heels.

So, okay, I was a little bit in love with my PJs. Back when I was hoping for an 80s night, I was planning to dress as Lucky Star Madonna. When that didn't work out, my PJs became the next best thing. A t-shirt featuring -- wait for it -- Lucky Star Madonna, along with the giant lace hair bow and 80 jelly bracelets I had bought for the original outfit. (Who says I don't sleep wearing 80 jelly bracelets? I don't, but I could.)

Saturday was the antithesis of Friday. We drank Diet Coke (and one vodka-based drink, but just one!). And the theme ended up being a mashup because we were in PJs, the NKs for some unknown reason wore togas, and the DJ played a lot of 80s music. Loved it!

Sadly, the PJs were a lot tamer this year. Not just tamer, nearly Puritan. In my t-shirt and shorts I was among the least dressed. Not much entertainment people watching, but there were a couple fun ones.

Joe performed, Donnie performed, there was random group + audience singing to Summertime. Keeping in line with the rest of the day, it was disgustingly hot - still - all night. Dancing to the non-stop dance marathon that was DJ Cheapshot had us overheated, so it was nice to cool down with self-serve ice cream.

After 3:00 the crowd started to thin, and it was around 3:30 that one of the most awesome parts of the cruise happened. Jon decided he was tired of watching everyone sing and joined in himself. He did three or four songs. The best was One Song. Here are the others.

Then Donnie took off half his toga and started talking about Cruise 2011. Not too long after that, we decided things couldn't possibly get better so we went to bed. Best deck party ever.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Cruise 2010 Day-by-Day Recap: Friday

Friday! Cruise day one! How great it was to wake up and already be in Miami. By the time I woke up at 9 a.m., my roomie Malina was already at the port and checked in. Andrea and I were much slower moving. I even went to the hotel gym (for a $15 fee, wth?) and we waited at the world's slowest Starbucks before heading to the port just before noon. And there we hit . . . the line.

Hey Carnival. You know when people are getting on your boats. Maybe you want to have enough staff such that every check-in desk is in use. Just an idea. We were in the check-in line for at least an hour and a half.

And then, suddenly, everything was made right. We were on the Lido deck for 30 full seconds when a nice man brought us drinks with fruit and mini umbrellas. (Note* that this was drink #1. This will come into play later.)

It was disgustingly hot, and luckily our luggage was delivered really quickly, so we were able to change into our swimsuits and take a dip in the pool before the muster drill.

From my Qik stream (sorry I was yelling, the music was quite loud):

Did ANYONE pay attention in the muster drill? I have no clue what they said. As soon as they dismissed us, everyone took off at a full sprint to the Lido Deck for the sail away party. We had a nice spot along the rail above the stage, but I guess we weren't paying enough attention or weren't vicious enough because next thing I knew there were three girls between me and the railing. So Elizabeth and I watched the sail away party sitting on the ground looking between a forest of legs.

Worth it.

Also at this point, another nice man brought us drink #2. I was really starting to like the cruise.

We put up our door decorations, and then off we went to dinner in the dining room. This cruise, thanks to no waiting in line for events, we ate in the dining room every night. After a stop in the merch room for our zip hoodies (and a failed attempt to buy shot glasses that *someone* may have found and opened), we went back to get ready for Casino Royale night. This was a fun theme, like dress to impress but (mostly) classier.

But first, the sort of game show! I say "sort of" game show because the game was "sort of Jeopardy," wherein there would be a question, but you would still have to answer in the form of a question. In other words, at no point were there answers. I freakin love the game show. It was my favorite part of the cruise last year. Can't tell you how nice it was to stroll in 15 minutes before the 10 p.m. show time and sit down in the second row. (And yet from the second row, there was still a pole directly in front of us.) Since it was classy night, I had a glass of champagne, i.e., drink #3.

The game show was a riot, due in no small part to Jon being at least medium drunk. He really stole the show with his comments about singing in bed with Tiffany and man pipes. Here he is calling "the pair of boobs to the stage."

Other highlights:
  • Danny continually pulling the podium backwards to check his score.
  • Jordan mimicking the air horn and using the small mic to make drive thru orders.
  • Joe saying "You drunk bitches better hurry up and get these answers right if you want to see me in my f*cking tux."
  • Donnie performing the first verse of Ice Ice Baby and then making up his own verse.
By the end, my face hurt from laughing. And that was only the beginning because it was time for open bar! Elizabeth and I, in our brilliance, decided we'd better drink really quickly because open bar was for one hour only, from 12-1 a.m.

Here we are at 12:05.

Then around 12:20.

12:45? Things started to go downhill.

Around 1:00 (I think?) the boys came out all looking like danger in their tuxes. It was great! I tried to tweet about it:

Boys ate tuxedo hot 1:23 AM May 15th via twidroid 
Translation: The boys are in tuxedos, looking hot.

My tweets that night also included gems like this:
Malina hads pbeen peeinbg a long tipme. I habbe eliabeyhad shors. 1:21 AM May 15th via twidroid 
Translation: It's been a while since Malina said she had to pee. Elizabeth left her shoes here and I'm keeping an eye on them.

I also have video that is unusable due to my narration. Example: "Hi Donnie. Hey, where are the New Kids? There's Donnie. I got the premium. What's that? You ain't gotta be nervous. Hey, there's Donnie." (frantic pointing at him from the side of the screen in case you missed him directly in the middle of the frame.)

Around 2:00 we ate pizza. I didn't go to bed till around 4:00. I don't remember what happened between pizza and bed, but my phone never worked right after that.

Those boys sure did look hot in their tuxes.

*Note: I think the final drink tally was somewhere between 6 and 8. Let's hope it was 6.

Cruise 2010 Day-by-Day Recap: Thursday

Ten months of anticipation had come down to this. Cruise weekend was finally here. Last year I made the rookie mistake of flying into Miami Friday morning, so I missed Danny's party and was exhausted by Friday night. This year I booked flights for Thursday afternoon (ended up on the plane with @nikkibop!) and landed in Miami around 3:30 p.m.

I made my way to the Intercontinental where I quickly met up with Andrea and Malina. Andrea and I had tickets for the Fillmore show that night, and Malina was able to score some later as they were giving a bunch away near the venue. We got concert-ready and headed over to the venue, where we arrived about 45 minutes before doors opened and met up with Marlene, plus started to see all of our friends and met new people from Twitter. My live Qik stream:

Since some girls had been in line since 4:30 a.m. and we had not, we went straight for the balcony and sat front row center there, which was great except that it was blasted hot. We were having a dance party up there and I was sweating like I had just been to the gym. I loved sitting next to Marlene, who had not seen a NK show since January 2009, so she was ecstatic about everything. You should have seen her face when I pointed out the B-stage right below us and explained the NKs would come out there during the show.

After the show, our plan was to go to South Beach to a club called Bed, where you lay around drinking on giant beds. Best club idea ever, right? But apparently clubs don't open till 11 p.m. and it was maybe 9:45, so we decided to do some pre-drinking before getting into a club that charged $15+ per drink. After stopping in the hotel for a minute, we went to Wet Willies, a bar that has nothing but dozens of liquor-enhanced slushies. OMG so good. We walked with the drinks the 2-3 blocks to Bed, chugging as we went so we'd be done by the time we got there, and chugging a very large rum-based slushie in 10 minutes = somewhat drunk Katie.

Turns out, Bed would not let us in because some of our party were wearing flip flops. Boo on them. Didn't matter because we made our own party for free on the beach. We drew in the sand, hugged palm trees, danced like ballerinas, ran in the water, and sang Whitesnake. Beat that Bed!
Called it an early night and left SoBe around 1:00 a.m. We wanted to get one last night's sleep in before the non-stop party of the cruise.

Friday recap coming soon!

Friday, May 21, 2010

NKOTB Cruise 2010 Playlist

Thanks for all your help remembering songs!

It's just not the same when you hear the full song and there's no WAAAAHHHH WAAAHHHH every 30 seconds. . .

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A selection of cruise photos

Detailed blogs coming soon, but for now, here are some pics!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

(Cue music) It's the Final Countdown!

Have you ever tried to write out the instrumental intro to The Final Countdown? It can't be done. So play this while you read ; )

After months of anticipation, the day is almost here. The suitcases are packed and all that's left is to get to Miami and have a fantastic time!

If you're not cruising but want to keep up with the action, follow my twitter list:

Twitter capped the list at 500 so unfortunately I can't add anyone else. But there are several cruise lists out there, so between all of us we should have the boat pretty well covered. If you're not on the list but plan on tweeting extensively, comment below and I'll bump someone for you.

One last note: if you want to reach me during the cruise . . . you pretty much can't. Unfortunately I really didn't get to read my @replies last year and I never got email to load. If you're on the boat with me, leave a post it on my door. If you're not, and for some reason there's big news I need to know right away, DM, comment here, or leave a message on my ning page.

See many of you in Miami! If there's anything I missed or you have last minute questions, please leave a comment!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Itineraries! Yay!

My brain is overwhelmed by all the cool stuff on the itinerary for this year's cruise.

Have you seen it? NKOTB: Cruise Itinerary & Cabana Rental

Too much to process! Where should I even start? Friday night open bar? A whole day of beach games (with medals!)? "Mystery event" Sunday afternoon? It's like an overdose of awesome.

There was some slight confusion at first because Group A was listed for both photo sessions. However, that has been corrected, with Group B slotted into the 1:30 p.m. session. I also saw some people asking if NKOTB will be on the island with us Saturday. Rest assured, they will be.

Those selected to play in the poker tournament received emails today. If you didn't get one, I think that means you didn't make it, but names will also be posted in the casino.

Not really knowing what "beach games" would entail, I did some research. There are too many options to really guess, but this is the most interesting one I found:
Piranhas: For a lively, heart pumping game, tuck a bandana into the back of everyone's swimsuit. In a predetermined area on the beach, everyone is tasked to "live" as long as possible (keep their bandana) while trying to collect the bandanas from the backs of their opponents' swimsuits. Be sure to clear the area of sharp shells or other objects that could cause harm before beginning. This game is sure to bring out both a competitive spirit and plenty of laughs from all involved.
How many girls would be after the shorts of a New Kid? Ha!

I have one concern and one concern only about the entire schedule: I'm worried about the HMC buffet. Yes, my #1 concern is constant access to food. Really. I called Carnival to inquire about vegetarian options, since the buffet is most often described as "barbecue style." I talked to two reps and both told me the options are burgers, chicken, hot dogs. . . . and fruits/salad. There is a Ben and Jerry's stand on HMC, but from what I've read it's only open about half the time. Somebody watch me and make sure I do not drink 5 pina coladas if all I've eaten for lunch is lettuce and a piece of melon.

For ease of reading, I divided the schedule into Group A only and Group B only, if you want to print yours out.

So what are you most excited about? Any guesses on the "mystery event"? Who's planning to be out for blood in the beach games?

Update: I'm back to researching food. What can I say, I have a one track mind. Here is what I found for the Half Moon Cay buffet menu:

BBQ Lunch Buffet with selection of two salads, grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, fresh island fish, barbecued chicken, brownies and cookies.

Ok, so I'll be eating salad and brownies. And possibly ice cream. So far I've packed three power bars and a handful of ziploc bags that will be filled with items from the breakfast buffet that morning.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

How much face time should you expect?

I got this topic last week when I did the call for stories, and I've been trying to figure out how best to address it. The short answer is: none outside the photo op. Your photo is the only guaranteed New Kids encounter while you're on the boat. It's just enough time to say hi to your favorite Kid and tell him you're having a good time.

Other than that, I guess it's half timing and the other half's luck. You likely will run into at least one NK over the course of the weekend -- in the elevator, near the pool, walking down the hall -- but that doesn't mean they'll be able to stop and chat. When Joe walked past several of us Saturday afternoon, he said he couldn't stop because he was on his way to an interview. Earlier that day, though, girls ran into him next to the pool and got photos.

The other factor is how bad you want it. Each night (and probably during the day), there was a small contingent of girls that followed the guys around like puppies. I wouldn't recommend that.

I saw everyone except Jordan at some point over the weekend, and I did not talk to anyone. If you are more forward than me, I'm sure you could have progressed to some form of conversation. I tended to act the same way passing a NK as I would passing our room porter: just said "hi" and kept walking.

Of course at the other end of the spectrum was the Katie we all saw in the DVD Easter Egg. Which makes the final answer "somewhere between saying hi in the hall and making out in the casino."

2009 cruisers: please post your face time stories!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Wondering what to wear to the photo op? Best of the 2009 photos

Just a quickie since I get this question a lot. My standard answer is: whatever the heck you want. People wore anything and everything last year.

Don't believe me? Check out the 2009 album.

Some of my favorites from that slideshow (click to enlarge):

Attack of the couch cushions

Jordan blending in with half the men on the ship

Yes, you can wear your bikini for the photo op. Why not?

Everyone wants a lap

I don't even know what's happening here

Anyway . . . what are you planning to wear?

Friday, April 30, 2010

Cruise docs have arrived!

Just posting this here since it seems not everyone received yesterday's email. (I didn't again and I have no idea why. I confirmed that I'm on the mailing list, and it's not in my spam folder. Very odd.)


The booking number and link in the email let you complete all your travel documents and print them, your Fun Pass, and your luggage tags from Carnival's site. Make sure you bring all of them with you when you check in, with a luggage tag attached to every bag you have with you.

If you didn't receive the email but your roommate did, that's all you need since your booking numbers are the same. (Maybe not for roommate match; I'm not sure.) If neither of you received the email, you'll have to contact Rose Tours.

Biggest surprise: all assigned seating this year and the concert has been moved back to the theater. Wooo! Aside from having a New Kid assigned as my room porter, I don't know what better news I could have hoped for. Bye bye lines!

Assigned seating will be determined by the time you booked. To put this into perspective, booking numbers started at 1000. This is the number in the first email confirmation you got way back when, not in yesterday's email. Last year, I want to say we were 1300-something, and that put us on the first level in the round booths on the perimeter. Suites receive the first 5 rows and 6E rooms receive the first 6 rows.

(I've wondered a lot about assigned seating over the last several months, and I had not been expecting it to happen. If you think of the ship theater, it seems not at all conducive to assigning seats, and I'm sure the whole undertaking was a complete pita. So you'll hear me saying thanks for this a lot.)

Concerts in the theater means we will be split into groups after all. This has led us to speculate that the shows will be a bit shorter than the normal set list. Enough to make anyone else rethink attending the Fillmore show?

It seemed there was some initial trouble registering for the poker tournament, but I believe that has been fixed. Some others had trouble logging into the site. If you get a timeout error, you will have to wait an hour before trying again. As for me, I could not get Carnival to recognize me as a past guest, but whatever. Probably not a big deal.

Full itineraries to follow.

Printing out that luggage tag makes it seem real, huh? Two weeks from today!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Things to throw in your suitcase (Your full service packing list)

I wasn't going to do a packing blog, but now that I've started making my own list, I thought I may as well make the list here. I'll probably be editing from now till I leave because I'm sure there are things I'll forget.

Organized by category.

  • Three casual day time outfits: sundress, shorts and tanks, etc. 
  • Bathing suits and cover ups
  • Photo op outfit
  • Theme outfits: Casino Royale, PJ party, white night
  • Going home outfit for Monday
  • Thursday night outfit if you'll be in Miami for the kickoff concert
  • Sweater or light jacket 
  • Shoes: in addition to theme outfit shoes, flip flops and/or comfy walkabout shoes
  • PJs to sleep in 
  • Gym clothes and shoes if you're really ambitious
  • Bras and underwear. Make sure you have any special undergarments that go with your specific outfits. (Tangent: I am packing a bra for this trip that has 62 configurations. SIXTY TWO! Men have no idea. On the other hand, I wouldn't want to have to lug around what they do, so I guess fair's fair. Anyway . . . .)
  • Sunglasses
  • Jewelry for each dress
  • Watch (since you won't want your phone turned on)
  • Beach bag/day purse (to hold your camera, sunglasses, ship map, book for pool reading, etc.)
  • Evening bag/wristlet (when all you want is your room key and lip gloss)
  • Hair ties/clips
  • Hat or visor 
  • Make up and moisturizers
  • Hair and make up brushes
  • Make up remover
  • Chapstick
  • Q-tips
  • Flat iron or curling iron
  • Hair dryer
  • Hair products/hairspray 
  • Razor and shaving cream
  • Nail care kit
  • Safety pins
  • Wrinkle releaser spray
  • Tide bleach pen
Bath and body:
  • Sunscreen
  • Aloe vera gel
  • Deodorant 
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Face and bath soap
  • Shampoo/conditioner
  • Body lotion/oil
  • Perfume
  • Aspirin/Tums/other OTC meds
  • Tampons (let's hope not)
  • Meds you take regularly
  • Motion sickness medication
  • Contact solution, case, and glasses
  • Band-aids
For the cabin:
  • Extension cord/power strip
  • Door decorations
  • Tear-by-hand tape (not magnets) for the decorations
  • Travel steamer (irons not permitted)
  • Flashlight or night light
  • Battery powered alarm clock
  • Post-its to leave on your door/friends' doors
  • Earplugs/sleeping mask
  • Concealed liquor
  • Ziploc bags for wet swimsuits and the like
  • Your @BHCruise project
  • Camera, memory cards, and charger
  • Camcorder/flip cam and charger
  • Walkie talkies
  • Laptop and charger
  • iPod and charger
  • Extra batteries for all of above
  • Electrical converter/adapter, if you're coming from outside North America
In your carry-on:
  • Passport/ID/Birth Certificate
  • Cash and only the credit cards you will use on the trip
  • Airline and hotel reservations
  • Cruise docs, luggage tags, and Fun Pass
  • Tickets to Fillmore show
  • Books for waiting in line and pool lounging
  • Gum/mints
  • Sharpie and anything you wouldn't mind having autographed
  • Anti-bacterial wipes or hand sanitizer
  • List of your friends' room numbers

Whew! And to think I fit everything in a carry on last year! Ok, what did I miss?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Six things to watch out for

A few weeks ago, I posted 15 Little Things You'll Love About the Cruise (it easily could have been 50), but let's take a look at the other side. While this is one of the best vacations you can ever hope to take, it still holds some inherent travel dangers that you'll need to keep in mind.
  1. Unattended valuables. As I've mentioned before, there is only one small safe in the cabins. As a key, you use any card with a magnetic strip (e.g., your sign and sail card). You don't have to use the same card every time, but you must unlock the safe with whichever card you used to lock it. This means if your roommate locked the safe with her card, you'll need to borrow that card to get back in.

    The safes are very small. If I had to guess, I'd say 10"x8"x4". Enough room to hold our passports, wallets, cell phones, and a few bits of jewelry, but definitely not enough for a laptop. Just wide enough to fit the Kindle. If there's anything you can't fit in there, such as a designer handbag for example, think twice about bringing it with you.

    Also -- and I cannot stress this enough -- USE THE SAFE. I learned my lesson on this the hard way, while I was at a work conference in San Antonio. We were staying at a fancy resort, and I went to a reception or some such leaving my purse on the desk. Two days later, when I got to the airport and went to pay the cab driver, I discovered every dollar of cash I had brought with me was gone.

  2. Unexpected charges. Most things on the ship are included in your fare, but not everything. Bottled water is not free. Lattes and other drinks at the coffee bar are an extra charge. Just because a waiter is carrying around a tray of drinks and offering you one doesn't mean they're complimentary. I read one story of a first-time cruiser who handed drinks off a tray to a bunch of surrounding passengers and then found out it had cost him $300.

  3. Unscrupulous passengers/crew. While every passenger on the ship is a fellow New Kids fan, that doesn't mean they're automatically trustworthy. When we get together, though, we tend to let down our guards. For example, maybe you'd ask someone to watch your bag while you jump into the pool for a minute. Chances are they'd do just as you asked, but there's always that one who will lift your iPod before you come back.

    Along the same lines, there are lots of Carnival staff on board. A few may be a bit too excited to be surrounded by 2,000 women. Don't forget your safety. Watch your drinks. Keep an eye on your friends. I don't know of anything disreputable happening last year; I'm just saying be aware, the same as you would be in any club.

  4. Sun. The rays out at sea are intense. There are no trees on the boat, obviously, so no shade.You also get the sun reflecting off the water and hitting you at all angles. At the risk of sounding like your mother, wear sunscreen, drink water, and don't stay out too long in the middle of the day, or you could end up sick with sun stroke.

  5. Local merchants. This may not be an issue on Half Moon Cay, since it's a private island, but some girls got taken for a ride last year by local merchants. They know we're tourists and they try to milk every cent out of us they can. If you get in a cab, agree on a price beforehand so you don't get to your destination and find yourself charged $50. If you book an excursion or buy souvenirs, ask for a lower price than what they originally quote you. If they won't go low enough, walk away. We had wanted to rent beach chairs at Paradise Island, but when the guy wouldn't go below $15/hour, we said no thanks and left. Sometimes when you start to leave they go lower.

  6. Illness. Every summer, you hear of a cruise ship getting hit with a norovirus. The same trip where I got robbed at the Ritz? There was a norovirus sweeping through the resort. Least fun thing ever. Take advantage of the hand sanitizer stations set up around the ship.

    My problem last year was alcohol-induced illness, especially Sunday morning when we had to get up early for the photo op. The boat was extremely rocky that morning, and the combination of hangover + boat rocking was not great. Cruise ships really need to start offering Gatorade.
Miscellaneous news:
  • Last I heard, the wait list was up to #2840.
  • @ColetteBett talked to Rose Tours, and they told her they're hoping to have our travel documents out to us this Thursday or Friday.
  • @NKOTB confirmed my guess that the best door decoration would be one that fit the stated theme. 
If you have your own travel tips, please leave them in the comments. I'm also taking suggestions for blog topics. Don't want to miss anything in the next 16 days (eep!).

Friday, April 23, 2010

Time to get creative! Decorate those doors.

In the theme frenzy, you may have missed the other part of this week's email: info on the door decorating contest.
Theme: High School Flash Back - "Locker" Decorating Contest
Remember how you used to decorate your school lockers? Here is your chance to really show off your vintage NKOTB collection (old & new memories) - Be sure to include pictures of yourself back in the day. Big hair, acid washed jeans, and lots and lots of neon! Raid your scrap books! We want to see you at your first NKOTB concert, or standing by your High School locker with all your NKOTB pix. This is as much about YOU (and NKOTB of course). Get creative! Best-decorated door will win a fabulous prize.
*The cabin door is 22" x 6.8" and is magnetic so we suggest you bring magnets to decorate and hold items in place.
The doors are most assuredly wooden. Bring tape. The blue painters tape works well and won't damage the door.

As for the decorations, people REALLY got creative last year. The theme was similar, but more focused on merch than personal photos. It was so cool to see all the old memorabilia, artwork, and themes.

The girls with the winning submission must have packed a full suitcase of nothing but decorations. The prize was concert tickets.

Here are a few others from last year, posted on ning:

Obviously not everyone followed the theme, but the winning entry did, so if you are in it to win it, go with the theme in the email. I couldn't really do the theme if I wanted to. I have maybe 4 NKs-related photos of me from that time, and one is worse than the other. See? This is the least embarrassing one.
Anyway, Malina and I made our door already and we love it. Plus we really aren't looking to win anything. I can't say more or I'll give it away ; )

What are your plans? Did you design your door already? Are you going to go for gold or make up your own theme? Did you find a secret metal door somewhere on the boat last year?