Can You Go On A Virtual Cruise? Yes, It Happened

NKOTB Virtual Cruise

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Hello! Full disclosure here. I am an HR professional and a true blockhead. And with that, I have to let you know up front that this post was difficult to write. It is with a broken heart that I try and find the right words to convey the mixed and strange feelings that this situation has brought. Instead of doing my best to describe the last three days in only words, I will share online videos streams from NKOTB’s YouTube channel along with some of my own pictures. You will have the opportunity to revel in the experience by clicking the links. You can go on a virtual cruise, the NKOTB Virtual Cruise, yes it happened!

What Exactly Happened?

This past week/weekend was supposed to be NKOTB Cruise #11 leaving Miami and cruising to Carnival’s private island and back. Obviously, that didn’t happen. This was to be my 5th NKOTB cruise. Like many other vacations, this one was taken away by the pandemic…Covid-19. The cruise was postponed, cancelled and money refunded (well, that hasn’t happened yet either but I digress). Sadness and depression set in for all including the 5 brothers from Boston. Naturally, in pure NKOTB fashion, they did something about it.

The #NKOTBVirtualCruise was created with contests, daily agendas, social media gatherings and theme nights! Can you have a virtual cruise and it be as close as possible to the real thing? While we are all in our homes practicing the social distancing guidelines upon us? I will let you be the judge!

Challenges & Extras for Virtual Cruise

Door Decoration

In my opinion, this was the best day of the virtual cruise. The agenda started with a couple of contests for blockheads or anyone for that matter to participate in. If you have been on any previous cruises, decorating your door and dressing up for theme nights are staples! What is an NKOTB cruise without them?

The virtual cruise had a door decorating contest. My doors are always subdued and I have a recurring theme each year with different messages. Being stuck at home, I used what I had on hand because I didn’t plan for there to be a cruise so I stopped creating. This is what I came up with.

My Door Decor

Full Door Decor-Virtual Cruise
Virtual Door Decor

My cruise doors always have the same old Teen Beat magazine pages with a center focal piece, which is usually reserved for those on the cruise to sign and let us know where they are from. On the first cruise I went on, Danny Wood autographed it! For this virtual cruise, I just put the names of those I have met on the cruise and keep in contact with….because #blockheads friends are the best!

Don’t Rush Challenge

All cruises have themed nights. Everyone dresses for theme night while partying on the lido deck. For this virtual go around, NKOTB came up with a virtual challenge.

“Gather your fellow Blockheads, virtually, and show us how you transform from your sitting-at-home wear to your cruise ship going out looks within seconds…Post your videos using BOTH hashtags: #NKOTBVIRTUALCRUISE & #DONTRUSHCHALLENGE! “

NKOTB website

I did this for Day 1 and 2. However, I am so basic and going at it alone so just a picture or two were posted. I didn’t read ‘videos’ until I saw the winners. Participation is important to me, not winning. I wanted to be part of the process as if we were actually on the boat. Twitter is not something I am good at so everything was posted but nothing beyond that. As a matter of fact, I was on Twitter more than ever during this weekend. I still get confused by it all!

Exclusive ‘Screening’

Only available for weekend viewing, the NKOTB did a Cruise Documentary. It was really nice to see what they really think about the cruise. My sense is that it was going to play on the TV’s in the cruise rooms if we were actually on the boat. They always have a NKTV channel (new kids television) during the actual cruise. Like I said, they did what they could virtually to make this as similar to the real cruise as possible. I enjoyed watching this-just wish it was more current. It only highlighted from 2009 through 2012 cruise and to be honest, I was looking for information from those when I was on. Who am I kidding, I was hoping to see glimpses of me too. HA!

NKOTB Virtual Cruise Pinterest
Pin this!

Day #1: Dress Up OR The Roaring 20’s

The day literally started at 12 am – midnight! Yes, you heard that right! House Party was released – an awesome quarantined collaboration with so many artists, especially from the 80’s and 90’s and the video really makes the whole thing totally AWESOME! Watch it below and while your at it, download it because all proceeds go to No Kid Hungry. Trust me, the song is catchy and it reflects ‘now’ so well. I love it!

Next on the early morning agenda was the media rounds for the new quarantine single. First it Kiss 108 in Boston, then Good Morning America, followed by The Jenny McCarthy show on SiriusXM. I missed that because I do not have Sirius and even though you can sign up for free, the amount of spam email and junk mail I get to keep turning it back on is overwhelming already so no thanks. Later that night, Entertainment Tonight did a little snippet too. It appears the proceeds from that song are really helping! NKOTB is also selling House Party merchandise and net proceeds go to No Kid Hungry as well – I bought my tank top immediately!

Lido Deck Party-Live Stream

This had all the feels of the Sail Away party. Music was played and Captain Donnie introduced the band one by one as they sat in their own homes. He used a mega phone to do so while their song ‘Live It Up’ was playing-the ultimate cruise song. Some other highlights, if you really want to experience it, are on YouTube and I have links throughout. I will warn you, swearing happens in addition to inappropriateness. It is normal during the cruise whether virtual or not.

  • Jared, their manager moderating a back and forth conversation regarding past cruise memories. That was fun to hear from their perspective in real time.
  • Dance Party with Zoom cruisers. This really was the only way to try and gather for the Lido deck in this virtual setup. It was interesting for sure and there was actually a DJ spinning the NKOTB tunes. And as usual, Donnie interrupted the DJ to call out cruisers the band knew and/or to change up the music selection. The quality wasn’t awesome because it all depended on your own set up for how clear and/or unstuck it all was. However, it fit the purpose and it was fun!

Day #1 Continued…

The rest of day #1 consisted of a ‘Tweet Along with Donnie’ during Blue Bloods. On the Friday night of the actual cruise, Blue Bloods is shown on the lido deck big screen while Donnie walks around taking selfies. This particular night, Donnie tweeted with fans during Blue Bloods. I like Blue Bloods but didn’t participate in the Twitter phenom. Again, I am not good at Twitter and it gives me a headache.

Final fun for the day was an 80’s/90’s Instagram karaoke party with Donnie and Jenny. This started around 11pm-ish (because everything is always late-HA) and went until 2:30 am. I wasn’t nor did I want to be picked to sing karaoke but I totally enjoyed watching all of this. It was fun and I also recognized several of the blockheads that were picked from past cruises. On-site lido deck parties go on until about this time or so and I stayed up for it! I very much enjoyed Day 1.

DAY #2: Glitter-Fabulous Night

So I added the word ‘fabulous’ because they really didn’t want you to get glitter all over the place. NKOTB wanted all to sparkle, shine and flair! I wore the only shimmer shirt I owned and put glitter on my face and neck. There was some glitter glue left over from one of the previous cruises so I used it.

Jordan's Solo Event

Day 2 was an event-packed day. It started at 12 noon with a Jordan Knight solo event on Instagram. No concert, just Q&A with Jordan. I suppose he wasn’t feeling a concert or the need to virtually connect with the fan base by having video questions. He just answered questions from the chat box. This was a great parallel to how Jordan is on the cruise. When he is feeling it, he performs and turns into an alter-ego of sorts. To me, that alter-ego is ‘diva’ where he starts showing his abs and moving in ways that many Jordan fans pass out over. That isn’t me so this solo event was just fine to chill and watch. After it was over, the next event began.

Game Show-Live Stream

Every cruise, NKOTB does a game show with cruise participants. This virtual year was no different. In my opinion as well as my sisters, this was the most fun game show. Maybe that is because it was moderated by an actual game show host and it went a bit smoother than others but still fun, inappropriate and obnoxious. As for the cruise contestants, well, I was hoping for more excitement from them. Perhaps the zoom video streaming delay added to that. In any event, it was fun and you can watch the whole segment it you want to experience it.

Baking PB Blossoms with Danny

I believe it was the first or second cruise I was on, Danny did a baking show on the lido deck. It was interesting but didn’t really engage me. This however, really did engage me. Perhaps it was the background, his granddaughter Rose, or just the fact he was in his kitchen chatting with fans throughout. You see, Danny was my favorite new kid growing up. I felt sorry for him back then because he was not the fan favorite. Nowadays, I like them all with Donnie and Jonathan being my front runners. Maybe it is because they are the super emotional ones. Check out Danny’s baking show!

Joey Mac – Live Concert

Every cruise features a concert by NKOTB and sometimes solo concerts are added. A concert with all 5 just wasn’t possible so Joey stepped up and did his own. If you don’t know Joe, he is a bit of a comedian and not only has acted in several sitcoms throughout his career – he is on Broadway too! Keep all of that in mind when you watch the below. Oh, and he has many special guests throughout!

Glitter Night Party – Live Stream

This was the night I was looking forward too. These lido deck parties usually start at around 10 pm, 11 pm, 12 am on the real boat but this one started right after Joe’s concert around 9 pm. I expected this to go into the wee morning hours like 2-3 am.

It started out like it normally does, the DJ spinning music while they are announced one by one. It was fun. Joe was late because of his concert. Jordan singing everything (a delayed made it comical). Jonathan really engaged with reading all of the comments. Danny and Donnie dancing in the dark. They also shared the 300 blockheads who received Zoom ID numbers to join the live feed to dance and interact.

Glitter night went for about 3 1/2 hours. About half way through, Donnie asked for slow jams. That is when it went from a fun dance party, to a slow jam sad fest-for 90 minutes. I am all about the slow jams but I wanted to keep on dancing. After all, this wasn’t the normal cruise and everyone was sad to not physically be on a boat. The social distancing/stay home orders are depressing already and I want to be taken away from those, have fun!

I Am Grateful

I can’t imagine I was the only one that felt this way. It quickly turned to blockheads holding up personal messages that made almost all of the band emotional and it became less fun for me. Again, don’t get me wrong, I am SO GRATEFUL and happy they actually did this for their fans. They didn’t have to do it and it was a lot of preparation, work and engagement. Believe me, I am not knocking anyone’s circumstances, I just wanted to have fun and take my mind off the situation at hand. It did the exact opposite.

To make me more sad, I wasn’t lucky enough to get a Zoom code. I was told all past cruisers received an email each morning with a code but only 300 are allowed at once. I never got the email. It’s too bad because after Glitter Night ended, Donnie hosted his ‘after party’ with them. On the boat, Donnie’s crew hands out wristbands for the after party.

DAY #3: GPS Day/Night

The last full day of the cruise is always GPS night. It is where you don your favorite hometown outfits. Whether you have just a t-shirt of your hometown sports team or a costume of a national momentum of sorts (think Eiffel Tower), you are encouraged to proudly represent where you are from. On the cruise I usually bring a beer coozie and a short sleeve and long sleeve to represent. I forgot to take a picture this time. Most likely because I was still bewildered from the night before.

Selfie Time-Donnie

Donnie Selfies on the NKOTB Virtual Cruise

Throughout the cruise there are so many opportunities to grab selfies with any of the New Kids. So, naturally they tried to make it work on a virtual level using Instagram. Donnie was first. He likes to talk a lot, to everyone. This made for more of a one-on-one conversation with fewer blockheads than normal. It was nice to watch. This was the first year I was unable to get a selfie with Donnie. That’s okay, I have at least one from every year previously.

Selfie Time-Danny

Danny Selfies on the NKOTB Virtual Cruise

Next up, selfies on Instagram with Danny Wood. This was awesome. I totally thought I sent enough messages to be chosen, but I wasn’t. Again, I am okay with it. It was a blast to watch. Danny was in a race to get more selfies in than Donnie. He was being very direct and kept telling everyone to be ready if picked. If they didn’t know how to take a screen shot, google it! He was trying to get so many in. He was so forward and that was awesome. My style for sure!

Final Live Stream

The last night of the cruise is generally an all-nighter and also where the waterworks begin. It started out with Jared, their manager asking questions each New Kid what their favorite part of the virtual weekend experience was. The discussion led to past memories and that was cool. It continued with a select group of cruisers asking them questions about what they missed about the real cruise. It was again talking about what we miss and what we want to go back too. You could take those conversations in any direction. At this point, I knew this was not going to be your normal last night of the cruise. We were all home, not on vacation and some people had to work in the morning.

It is hard to put into words how I felt about this weekend. In all honesty, it started off so great and the bottom line is that these guys are really awesome and care about their fans more than you know. I still cannot wait for cruise 11.5!

My Thoughts

The first day was super awesome and I was really hoping it would carry throughout. Let’s be honest, the ending is always a sad time but this was not only different because of the virtual aspect, but it was short and really there was only one ‘night’ of a virtual dance party. I was hoping to be dancing around my living room on Day 3. Instead, it was an hour and a half long Q&A that quite frankly, was not exciting for me. I suppose that is what happens when the amount of cruisers goes up from 3,000 to 13,000. The final 20 minutes were video messages from fans thanking them for everything they do to help their fans through issues and problems. It was the ultimate emotional ending and just like that, it was over.

But There is More?

Shortly after the end of the virtual cruise, Donnie posted a Facebook video to have a proper ending. You see, during the real cruise when Donnie and Jon stay up late, the final song is Titanium by Sia. and it closes out the cruise experience. It is always emotional not only because of the words and meaning, but because it is the end of the cruise and nobody wants to go home just yet…nobody.

Self admittedly, Donnie said this was the most emotional cruise for him. Jonathan felt the same. I cried throughout the entire weekend because it felt more emotional from a different perspective. I love them, their emotion, their spirit, I truly do and this will be an event I will never forget. Did this ruin my cruise experience? Heck no! It is another memory during a time in history that will forever change the way we all do everything.

My 6-Part NKOTB Cruise Series – 2017

So back to my original question that I will answer from my perspective: Can you have a virtual cruise and it be as close as possible to the real thing while we are all in our homes practicing the social distancing guidelines upon us? The answer is yes in some aspects and no in others. Yes, we had theme nights, game shows, selfies, and DJ dance parties. No, because no hugs, no selfies (for me anyway), not enough dance parties, and way too short!

Please take me back to the real boat! While the new normal will most likely change some things, I really want to be on the boat and cannot wait until it happens again – NKOTB Cruise 11.5!

all the best… *judean*

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  1. I love NKOTB. I am so glad that they were able to give you this to make up for the cancellation. What a great idea!

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