i’ll be trippin’, can’t wait till the next time

When I got on the Destiny, I was pretty sure it would be my only New Kids cruise. Why? Because what I want to do is be a travel writer. I already do it, but I want to get paid to do it. In the meantime, though, I travel and write to get experience. And I do that with money out of my own pocket. So, one New Kids cruise gives me enough Miami/Bahamas fodder for my travel blog one time, but can I do it multiple years and still rationalize spending the hard-earned money I should be using traveling somewhere new instead? Probably not.

I know lots of girls work 40 hour work weeks, Monday through Friday, and get a week or two of paid vacation a year, so they can afford to make this their annual vacation. Believe me, I’m rife with jealousy. I just didn’t have any real designs on doing this more than once. And then…the cruise started…

I don’t know what point it was that we started debating (Michelle, Donna, and I, that is) going again. It didn’t take long, that much I know for sure. We liked the idea that we would already all know each other and there would be less awkwardness, and we’d be much more familiar with how everything works as repeat cruisers. We also are all already familiar with the payment process, so we know that we really only have to decide so far as to each save up a $300-ish deposit, book our cabin, and figure out what happens next if one or more of us can’t actually go. After a day or so, we started talking about “next year.” By the end of the cruise, we’d all pretty much decided to at least think about it, plan on it, and get real as soon as we had a better idea of whether or not it was an actual possibility.

Monday morning came hard and fast. Both Donna and Michelle had willingly missed a chance to have porters take their luggage off the boat, opting to do it themselves. I, the seemingly “early bird” of the group,” stuck my bag out before 4am so it’d be picked up. That gave me a zone number to listen for in the morning, a clue as to when I could debark. Michelle originally planned to leave first thing, but ended up sticking around long enough for Donna and I to get ready and out of the room, and then we wandered to the photo gallery and looked through what was left of the group shots. (We know you’re not supposed to, but we each bought one or two of those taken of us so that we could share them all. Doesn’t everyone do that? Sarah at the cash register actually told me, “today, I don’t give a shit. Yesterday I might have.” I liked her.)

Somehow, they went from calling zones 9 and 10 to 11 and 13, skipping my zone 12. By the time they were calling 14 and 15, we were beyond ready to get off the boat and somewhere that we could sleep. Michelle had a flight out of Fort Lauderdale later that day, but Donna and I had a hotel near Miami airport. We said quick, half-hearted goodbyes at baggage claim, I grabbed my bag, and then we had to wait in a massive line for a cab (coincidentally, Michelle and the girl she was traveling with ended up directly behind us anyway). After what seemed like forever, we got a cab and left the port and the ship behind. We were too tired for it to be emotional. We (and everyone else, I suspect) were just trying not to bite each others’ heads off out of crankiness due to sleep deprivation.

At the hotel, they’d been fully booked the previous night, and we were there before check out time, so there weren’t any rooms ready. Thankfully, though, they offered to keep our bags for us and directed us to a nearby hotel with a restaurant. We got there to discover a hot breakfast buffet, realizing it was our first real hot breakfast of the entire trip. Let me tell you, with less than seventeen hours of sleep for the entire cruise under my belt, I was thrilled to have scrambled eggs with cheddar, bacon, sausage, and french toast to dig into, complete with a pot of coffee and lots of water. We were pretty sure breakfast had never tasted so good!

We still had about another hour to wait for a room to be ready, but Donna made good use of the hotel’s internet access while we waited, and then finally a little after noon they gave us keys. Our room was supposed to have had two double beds, but when we went in we found a big king sized bed instead. I asked her if she cared, and neither of us did, so we passed out for four hours without ceremony. We got up just so as to not completely sleep the entire day away, and Donna went down to the whirlpool to enjoy the sun one last time (she tells me Toronto doesn’t get sun like we do here in California, so I can understand her soaking it up), and I had to unpack and repack my whole bag so that I wouldn’t have to worry about being over the weight limit with my luggage. All I wanted to do was shower and relax, but somehow pictures seemed much more alluring. (You’ve seen them. You understand, right?)

There isn’t a whole lot more to say except that we decided “when in Miami…” for dinner, and went next door to a little Cuban hole-in-the-wall. I convinced Donna to be adventurous, but the food was just okay. We were both asleep by ten and the next morning she woke me up to say she was leaving. Tired, sad, and missing everyone already, we hugged goodbye at the door and then she was gone. At the time, we were convinced that the three of us would soon be reuniting at the Chicago show for the NKOTBSB opener that Donnie had given us tickets to, but it’s taking place as I write this and none of us managed to get there. There is, of course….always next year?

I have heard talk from at least two different people that the rumor is next year the destination may be changed from the Bahamas to Bermuda/Jamaica. I for one really hope this is true, because then it’s a new place for me to write about, and I’m that much more likely to be able to go! See you all at Fenway, on the next boat, or sooner! Thanks for reading, stay tuned for our personal NK Cruise 2011 playlist!

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