baby, don’t let this be the end…

Waking up on Sunday was bittersweet, since it was our last day on the boat. We had the photo op first thing (well, not early, but it was the first thing we had planned), and unfortunately, so did everyone else on the entire boat, so it went really long. We only had half a photo group, so we decided to just get in where we fit in and not really worry about it. We were pretty sure that since we were group B, by the time we got to the guys in any group, they’d be beat.

We ran into Amanda and Nina, who had somehow miraculously found room for us in their photo group. One of the girls gave up Joe for Donna, which left Michelle and I to Jon and Danny (but we were both pretty much okay with whomever). We sat at the bar near the end of the line, deciding to be last. After a drink or two, a little relaxation, and some nice conversation, a Rose Tours employee started barking that if we didn’t get in line we wouldn’t get our photo op. (Who knows if that would have actually turned out to be true…we obeyed and got in a line.) We stood in a line that was moving at a decent pace for the next hour, working our way from the casino into the room where the guys were all standing, and already obviously exhausted, having been meeting fans and smiling for pictures for hours on end (and the line was still out the door behind us). Girls who’d made it through before us had been so excited to report that they got hugs and conversation with all five guys, but there wasn’t a chance for any of that at this point in the day. Some of the guys were stretching, others barefoot, all clearly already wiped out. I asked Jeannie from Rose Tours why they schedule all the photos for the same day; we were told that that is all handled by NKOTB’s management. (What the…? Wouldn’t it make more sense to break it up & do a few hours each night? If I ruled the world…)

Donnie was the first to greet us, and I was toward the back of the line. As I (finally) got to him just to pass him, the guy running the show yelled “let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!!” so I made a mock-concerned face and said “let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!!!” to Donnie, who hugged me and said, “no, baby, take your time.” Unfortunately, I didn’t feel that I really could take my time. I told him, “nope, I gotta hurry!” and ran off just in time to get to Danny. Somehow, Donna found herself without a New Kid at all, which Danny noticed in time to stop the photo and grab her (so much for her getting Joe!)! I asked Jordan if I could have a squeeze, and he gave me a look like “really?” and patted me on the back half-heartedly. I don’t blame the guy, though. It was painful just to watch; I don’t know what somebody was thinking making them stand for an endless line of girls who want more than half-assed smiles. It was a hot mess, but I don’t blame the guys at all.

After the photo op, Donna was really upset at having been nearly edged out of the photo entirely and having missed her chance to connect with any of the guys. We found Amanda and Nina and decided we’d try to get into the Back Rub, even though there had been girls lining up for hours. We split up after making plans to meet up on the Lido Deck either way and were directed by some other girls to a guy who was randomly handing out 250 wristbands to a bigger crowd of girls from group B. It turned out to be the same rude guy from earlier, but…beggars can’t be choosers, right? I knew that the chances of all three of us getting in were slim to none, but Donna declared it was every girl for herself and we wouldn’t be mad if any of us got in without the others, just before the d-bag guy put the 250th bracelet around her wrist. I was disappointed, but within 30 seconds several girls came forward, crying. It turned out that they had gotten bracelets, but weren’t going to go in without their entire groups. The guy cut the wristbands off of each of them and turned everyone away, saying he couldn’t re-use their wristbands because he couldn’t fasten them now. Three empty, unused seats.

Donna left us shortly after that, feeling guilty that she was going alone. Michelle & I were both bummed but it wasn’t her fault she’d been randomly chosen, and we headed up to the Lido Deck to try to meet Amanda & Nina, hoping our tardiness hadn’t kept them from getting wristbands of their own. I beat Michelle up there and realized Jordan’s Stretchify had started, and waited for her, just watching from the back (the place was packed). I wanted to leave, she opted to stay, and I couldn’t have made it across to the bar where we were supposed to meet if I’d have tried. I stayed in the back against a wall, watching from a great distance, and somehow Michelle found enough room for her tiny figure to join in the yoga fun (without a mat and still in her maxi dress from the photo op, even).

I’ve never seen Jordan like this. Let me say, I adore him. I also know that when he doesn’t know what to do or say, what comes out is often cheesy, but I love him all the more for it. For some reason, what I saw that day seemed to me to be the the real Jordan, and though my body didn’t take part in his yoga exercises, my mind and soul were thoroughly relieved by the time it was over. Stretchify was one of my favorite moments on the ship. He was sweet, silly, and took time and concern that no one would hurt themselves. And um…he looks freaking fantastic in a tank top.

I don’t know why I somehow expected he might be calling poses by their names, but he didn’t. Instead, he just sort of described in the easiest way possible what it was that he was doing, and kept emphasizing the importance of slow movements and lots of breath. In addition, he kept pulling girls up to his little stage with him to suggest poses for the group to do. In between stretches, he treated us to songs from Unfinished. (I took a video of “O Face,” for audio’s sake, but out of respect to him I don’t want to leak it until the album’s actually released. I’ll update later.)

(I chose this pic over the nearly exact one I have because, while you can’t really see that he’s pulling his leg up, you can see the disgusted face of the girl in it. She’s making that face because, as I said, he was being silly. He told everyone to be careful, because this stretch in particular is one that can release a lot of gas. šŸ™‚ )

I love this pic in particular because you can see JK in the top left corner, and that’s Michelle right in the forefront in the right corner. I took it for her, because it’s fun to have a pic of yourself doing yoga with a New Kid, but I also wanted to post it because it’s cute.

Oh and yes. He really did the wiggle. Stretchify left me with a yogic glow, even without stretching. It was one of those moments where everyone’s just relaxing and enjoying themselves, and no one was freaking out over celebrity or anything. It was really chill, and I’m a yoga lover anyway – what better way to do it than on a boat with a Caribbean breeze, surrounded by other BHs and led by a New Kid? Plus…I never thought he’d really do it when he joked about teaching the class on Twitter months ago…I’m really impressed!

After a quick costume change, Donna was still in the Back Rub, so Michelle and I went back up to the Lido Deck and grabbed drinks and cards to play NKOTB-I-N-G-O with Jon. His attitude was much like Jordan’s, relaxed and fun. He didn’t totally know what he was doing, but we all learned together & it was fun. I was determined to win, because the prize was $1200 & I wanted to put it toward next year’s room with a balcony. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be, and some other lucky girl won instead! They decided to let us play one more game with the same cards, and the prize was $800 plus Jon’s Double Dare t-shirt, but I didn’t win that either. Still, it was fun just to play, and I did win $5 on the “scratcher” things we bought, but I never redeemed it.

We finally caught up with Donna, got something to eat, and got ready for Red Carpet Night – sadly, our last party with the New Kids before we had to leave early the next morning. I had brought a much fancier dress to wear, but after the first three parties, decided that we were really all dressing up for each other, and comfort was sort of key. If I was planning on dancing and jumping around, fancy wasn’t really the way to go. I opted for a comfy maxi dress instead and dressed it up with accessories, and we were out the door. This time, thanks to the red carpet and backdrop set up before the entrance to the Lido Deck, we actually remembered to stop and take a group shot!

And then it was time to let the good times roll!

And ohhhh, the tuxedos…(Except for Jordan, that is. Maybe he missed the memo?)

Not long after the party started, Donnie had an announcement for us: they’d all had so much on the cruise with us that they couldn’t imagine starting the NKOTBSB tour without us all there. They were giving a ticket to Chicago’s 5/25 opener to every cruiser!! The crowd went wild like we’d just won the lottery…hadn’t we? A few songs later, and he was back, hanging his head. He said he’d gotten wrong information, and he was so sorry, but they weren’t giving us each a ticket….they were giving us each two tickets! I can only speak for me and the girls, but we thought their generosity was outrageous. Shortly thereafter, they were down partying with the crowd (and of course, crowd-surfing)!

At this point, Joe pointed out that if “us bitches” dropped Donnie, the tickets would be worthless…

Then Jordan decided to crowdsurf…

(Protecting his package after having it grabbed at…)

And the only one on that side left to catch him was Donnie!

Joe had an announcement he wanted to make, too:

This was such a great moment…to watch Joe’s joy, and to see that he cared to share little details of his life like that with us…I’ll never forget it. The song he dedicated, by the way, was “Material Girl.” Interesting pick if you ask me, but no one did. šŸ™‚

Eventually, I stopped seeing any of the guys around except for Energizer-Bunny New Kid Donnie, who declared he wasn’t going to bed until the sun came up (I believed him, I just wasn’t sure I could say the same).

When I had to bow out, reluctantly leaving my favorite New Kid and both of my roommates still dancing the night away (somewhere between 4:30 and 5am), I returned to our empty (yet semi-packed, thankfully) cabin to find this sticky note on our door:

At first, I didn’t get it. Luckily, the girls across the hall were up and taking their door down, and pointed out that we’d had visitors:

Danny, Chance, and Vega had stopped by! We’d missed them, but I thought it was so freaking cute that they all had left notes, that I didn’t care. Unfortunately, my pic with Danny was below knee-level, so it didn’t get signed like the others, but I still fell asleep happy.

(Vega’s note was my fave, I thought the heart and the “he he” were so cute!)

Donna made it back to the room first, just after I fell asleep, looking for Michelle. She left again in a minute to find her, but came back without her and went to bed. Michelle came back after 6am and never did go to sleep at all. None of us got so much as three hours that night, and the girls insisted that I should’ve stayed up on the Lido to watch the sunrise. I have to admit, in retrospect, I regret that I didn’t. I certainly have a few things I’d do differently next year, but that’s another post. Debarkation/saying goodbye awaits!

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