Sunday, November 19, 2017

NKOTB Cruise 2017 Part 4 (Days 4/5- Sunday/Monday)

(If you haven't already, make sure you read Parts 1-3 so you're all caught up)

Well here we are, on the final installment of my NKOTB Cruise recap.  And the #PCD (Post Cruise Depression) is real ya'll!  I've barely even started typing and I'm already thinking about the moment that Donnie informed us we were out of the Gulf and almost home... ugh, that was rough to hear.  But the good news is, Cruise #10 has been announced and I have every intention of being on it!!  So here we go:

Part 4- Running for Remember Betty, Meeting Andrea Barber, Camping in the Rain, and GPS Night

Sunday morning started early... way too early.  Since I went to Donnie's after party Sat. night, I ended up with about 90 minutes of sleep before my alarm went off.  BUT, it was for a good reason.  In the months leading up to the cruise, I had been doing a fundraiser for Remember Betty (Danny Wood's charity in honor of his mother who passed away from breast cancer).  I ran a 5k at home in the name of every single person who donated and I had promised to run a 5K while on the cruise as well.  So I got up, got dressed in my running gear and favorite NKOTB hat, and headed up to the track on Deck 10.  Kathi came with me to cheer me on and document the run, which she did expertly in the form of photos, boomarangs, and even slo-mo video... thanks Kathi!

Unfortunately, my cruise-related vertigo combined with the ships' rocking and the fact that I was now functioning on about 10 hrs of sleep total in 4 days meant that I had to reduce my run to a 1 miler.  The last thing I needed was to face plant on the track before GPS night!  But at least I was able to get in a short run in honor of everyone who donated and all of the cancer patients and survivors that my donor's asked me to run in honor of.  In the end, I ran 26 5Ks and raised almost $800 for Remember Betty.   So, if you're reading this and you donated or supported me and my fundraiser in any way, THANK YOU!!!!

 After running, showering, hanging for a short time with Angie, Traci, and Mandy on the Lido Deck, and taking a too-short nap, I headed up to the atrium to meet one of my favorite childhood actresses, Andrea Barber (Kimmy Gibbler from Full/er House)!  She had Tweeted the night before that she would be taking pics with fans on Sunday and I was anxious to meet her since people have been telling me since I was about 7 that I am her doppleganger!  When I explained this to her, she agreed that we look a lot alike and asked the woman taking pictures if she could tell who was who.  What do you think?!?

It was right after taking these pictures that I looked out a window and noticed the rain pouring down outside!  Little did I know at the time that the rain (combined with practically hurricane force winds!) would continue through the entire day and well into the evening.  But despite the current downpour, I had promised my friends that I would trade off with them on the Lido Deck after meeting Andrea so... off I went to sit in the rain.  What followed ended up becoming one of the most miserable yet best days of my life.  Our little group spent the next several hours camping out near the stage and while it was cold, wet, and incredibly windy, we had the time of our lives.

We laughed, we cried, we laughed some more, we shared NKOTB stories, we laughed again, we went through about 50 towels, we laughed till it hurt.  We even earned our own hashtag from some other cruisers on social media... #wetcampers.  Haha!  It really hit me how amazing this whole cruise is when I was sitting with a towel over my head, soaking wet, my sweatshirt around both Traci and me, our heads on each other's shoulders, Mandy and Angie huddled together right next to us... and these were girls I had just met two days earlier.  One of the best parts of this cruise is the lifelong friendships you develop almost immediately and the incredible memories you make in such a short time.

Even though the evening's NKOTB Acoustic Concert ended up being cancelled, we were hopeful that the GPS party would still go on.  And in the meantime, Joe created a spur-of-the-moment, 3-hour long, 1-man show in the atrium complete with comedy, music, and more.  It was here that cruisers learned how far New Kid's security are really willing to go for them!  Fans listened in awe as Joe recounted how Val (of NKOTB security) couldn't get Jordan to answer his cabin door when he knocked, so he went next door to Donnie's room and actually CLIMBED OVER THE BALCONY to get to Jordan's room from the outside!  God Bless those sweet security men and the dedication they have to the New Kids but seriously, as Joe put it; "You could have died!!".

Anyway, at one point during our marathon camp-out on the Lido Deck, the New Kid's crew came out and started packing up the sound and lighting equipment.  While most of the ship panicked, we simply asked the crew what was going on and were reassured that the party was still on, they were just switching to the ship's equipment.  Mandy noticed the thick, British accent from this particular crew member and decided that she really wanted to hear him say "f**in' wanker".  So we politely asked him to.  At first he refused, explaining that he only says that to people when they piss him off... so naturally we begged him in the most irritating fashion we could muster until he finally gave in and yelled "Aw, shut up ya f**in' wankers!".  In our so-exhausted-we-may-as-well-have-been-drunk state of mind, this was clearly the funniest thing we had ever heard in our lives and we laughed until we cried!

And at last, GPS Night was upon us!  The boys from Boston made their way to the stage in a combination of custom Celtics gear, baseball caps, and kilts.  They spent the first chunk of the night alternating between taking flags from various groups of fans and parading them around the stage and dancing, dancing, dancing.

At one point, the DJ played a whole series of NKOTB songs and my friends and I performed every single dance move from Block Party, Dirty Dancing, and Full Service.  Jon, Jordan, and Donnie all pointed and smiled at us while we danced like idiots... they probably thought we were completely nuts, but we really didn't care.  It was fun either way!

At the peak of the party and just when we thought it couldn't get any better, the speakers blew out!  Donnie climbed onto the roof of the tiki hut and got the crowd singing Hangin' Tough, but we didn't even notice because lo and behold, Jordan Knight was walking around the front taking selfies and he was heading our way!  This was it.  My unicorn was only a few feet away and I was actually going to get a selfie with him.  I pulled out my phone, he stepped closer.  I opened the camera, he moved closer yet.  I put it in selfie mode, he was only one person away.  I handed Jordan my phone, he took it and started taking our selfie.  But something was wrong.  And I now have a clip of Jordan saying "Aw, shit it's on record, uh video".  Well crap!  That was it, I blew my first chance in almost 30 years at a selfie with Jordan Knight! 

Expect that I didn't.  Jordan stood and talked with fans while I fixed my camera and then he stepped back in for the selfie.  I couldn't believe it.  He even spun me around while telling me we needed to find better light before taking the pic.  I didn't think I could love him any more, but after that experience, I do.

Photo Cred: Angela Collett.
How is even the back of Jordan's head sexy?!?
So the night wore on and eventually, around 4:30am, Donnie informed us that we had left the Gulf and were now officially heading back home.  It was heart-breaking.  I never wanted this cruise to end!!  Donnie and Jon finished out the night with a heartfelt speech and hug (I adore how much love those two have for each other) and we begrudgingly headed back to our cabins to finish packing and catch a super quick nap before we were kicked off the boat in a couple of hours.

The rest of the trip was pretty much a blur of Kathi and I disembarking, sleeping at the hotel, grabbing a quick dinner and dessert, sleeping at the hotel some more, and getting up early (again) to catch our flights back home.  At the airport, I ran into several fellow cruisers and even made one last new friend, Val.  Traci, Angie, and I ended up on the same flight to Nashville so we sat together on the plane comparing pics on our phones and reminiscing.  We were a little worse for wear than when we had started out, but so happy and thankful too.

As I type all of this, I am in tears.  This trip was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.  That boat was so full of love, positivity, and camaraderie that I literally can't wait to get on it again next year!  I made SO many new friends (too many to list!) that I can't wait to see next year on Cruise #10!  So until then: peace, love, and keep on Hangin' Tough Blockheads!!!

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