A Mediterranean Cruise with the Backstreet Boys

I’m 30 years old and I love the Backstreet Boys!

If you’re still with me, then I hope you are as excited for this experience as I was. For over a year I was excited for this — An event that I knew would include moments I would never forget.

Apologies for the quality of the photos. This was one of the few times I didn’t take my good camera everywhere for fear of getting caught in a crowd and it getting damaged. 

The Ship

Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas


I bought the ticket to cruise with the Backstreet Boys on my birthday last year and it was shortly before my birthday this year. It is a gift to myself about 20ish years in the making. And I just loved my gift!

I’ve been a Backstreet Boys fan since middle school, and I never cared if anyone made fun of me for it. It’s a forever kind of love. Their harmonious voices are a treat for anyone who cares to listen, and as I just learned, they are some of the nicest people.

So, why a cruise with the Backstreet Boys?

The answer is simple really. I got to be on a ship with the Boys for three and a half days while watching shows and potentially interacting with them. There was also the chance to visit Cannes and Pisa or Florence when we arrived in their ports. We embarked in Barcelona, an amazing city, so it gave us a wonderful excuse to spend a few days there before I boarded the ship!


Howie D Playing Beer Pong


I had dreams about how it would be. I imagined that I would go along my day and randomly bump into one of the guys, have a quick chat, grab a pic, and move on until the show. Apparently it was like that on previous cruises. But this cruise was intense, body guards were needed and you only saw the guys when they wanted to be seen. But, honestly, it was for the best considering how some ladies were acting. Brian, Kevin, Nick, Howie, and A.J. all stayed on the same floor as me, but on the opposite side of the ship. *sad face*. But there were ALWAYS girls waiting at the end of the hallway–day and night.

It got even crazier on some nights. Girls would wait at the front of the stage for hours to get a spot and some pushed their way up to the front. We partied every night, and each party had a different theme. Some of the other ladies did a great job on their costume for each event.


Nick Carter - Leather & Lace Night | Backstreet Boys Cruise 2016


The first night was “In A World Like This” and you were to represent your home country/state/town where I wore red, white and blue. Second was “Night at the Cinemas” since we were in Cannes for the first night of the film festival. For that one, you were to dress as your favorite movie character. I went as Sandy from Grease…and so did about a dozen other people. Third was “Casino Royale” and everyone dressed their best! The last night was the craziest by far. It was “Leather & Lace” — basically a 50 Shades of Grey theme. That got crazy pretty fast.

Those voices

Any time any of the guys were singing were my favorite parts. The acoustic set was an incredibly moving experience. I smiled, I cried, I danced, I swayed, I screamed. So many emotions. So wonderful.

Backstreet Boys Cruise 2016


Aside from the acoustic set, we all heard Kevin do some singing with fans, and AJ gave a sneak peek at his new album which was amazing and super sexy. It was all so raw most of the times we saw them.


AJ on stage on the Backstreet Boys Cruise 2016


Of course they were always “on” and working, but it was cool and mostly they seemed relaxed and just wanted everyone to have a good time. I was just sad I didn’t hear more of their voices!


Kevin on stage on the Backstreet Boys Cruise 2016


Making Friends

I was so lucky to have met two girls in line to check in for the cruise who I stuck with for those 4 days. They were so great to me and I am so grateful. I’m not a solo traveler…I don’t really like being alone. I can do conferences for work and things like that, but to just go and enjoy something on my own, it’s just not fun for me. While in line, my anxiety flared up after Sean dropped me off. Everyone else seems to have a friend, partner, or mom with them and I was alone.


Friends from the Backstreet Boys Cruise 2016


I told these girls about my anxiety since I’m standing there tearing up for no reason and they stuck with me and talked to me to get my mind moving elsewhere so that my anxiety would subside. And it did! Then I just kept running into them all over the ship and we ended up hanging out a lot.

A stop at the Cannes Film Festival

Even though highly unnecessary, there were two ports of call on this cruise. Cannes, France was the first and surprisingly, I got up, grabbed breakfast and figured I’d hop the shuttle boat to the shore and check it out. I figured, I was awake and most people were still asleep and it’d be a fun solo adventure and it was! While I was only gone for a few hours, it was a nice break from the ship and I felt productive by going.

Cannes, France


I even found a little bit of red carpet for myself!


My red carpet


A relaxing day

When we arrived in Italy, I decided to stay on the ship. It was our first sunny day and I just want to bask in the sun with a frozen fruity drink in my hand. So, I found my cruise friends and we did just that! As a bonus, they were playing Backstreet Boys videos by the pool. Seriously, that whole non-event of chillin’ by the pool was one of the best parts of the whole cruise. I think I forget to relax sometimes, so it was a lovely break!


Relaxing on the Backstreet Boys Cruise 2016


THE Picture

As part of the cruise with the Backstreet Boys ticket, you get to take a photo with the Backstreet Boys. The catch is that you have to be with a group of 4 or 5 people. When I first saw this, I couldn’t help but think about how I was alone and would be stuck with strangers. Luckily, I had made some friends by this point and asked my roommate if she wanted to join, and BOOM! That makes 4 of us.

We were freaking out in line. Messing with our hair. Trying not to cry. Bouncing to expel some excess energy. Checking each other’s’ smiles, hair, and dresses. We even got in the order that made sense based on our favorites.

It was time, we were next. I shook Brian’s hand and said “It’s so nice to meet you, Brian!” but in a calm way. I wanted to be sure to say their names to make it feel real. I don’t remember what he said back. Then AJ, “Hello! It’s so nice to meet you. Thank you”. Again, no clue what he said. Then it was Nick. I shook his hand and said “Hello…” but then he grabbed my waist and turned me so I was in my spot for the picture.


Backstreet Boys group photo

Official Backstreet Boys photo


There I was, between AJ and Nick with their arms around my waist and mine around theirs’. My 12-year-old self wanted to never move. I wanted to soak it all in. But I was trying to remember to smile. Don’t screw up the picture!

Then it was over. I shook Nick’s hand again, because, well, my head was spinning. I said a similar thing to Kevin as I did to the other guys, then he kissed my cheek as we shook hands. And Howie. Sweet Howie D. “It’s so nice to meet you! Thank you!” I said. And while I don’t know what he said either (head still spinning) he looked so incredibly sincere. Howie just looks so huggable!


My one solo picture

With so many crazy women, I did not push through the madness to get selfies with the guys. I wasn’t doing it. Of course I was bummed about it, but I thought that I had that exclusive party on the last night and surely I’ll get my pictures there.

So many people were at that party and none of the guys came to our table. After speaking with some great ladies from the U.S., they wanted to help me get a picture with one of the Backstreet Boys. They had pictures with them and I didn’t have any and they felt so bad for me since I was so nervous and excited! I am forever grateful for this woman since she’s the one who got AJ’s attention and saying “Would you please take a picture with her? She doesn’t have a photo with anyone yet!” He said “I’ll change that!”.


AJ and Jessica


We chatted for maybe 20-30 seconds about how could I have missed his epic night of selfies. And I stupidly said “I was probably sleeping”, because apparently everyone knows you aren’t supposed to sleep on this cruise. I gave this woman my cell phone (since I was dumb and didn’t bring my camera to this event) and got a photo with AJ hugging me tight! It was truly a wonderful moment. I thanked him and he went on his way. Then I sat down and teared up. Not just because I met AJ, but because he was so freaking nice and these women who stood up and helped me because I was being so shy on the cruise!

Goodbye Boys

I woke up at 5:30 am thanks to the automatic ringing of the phone so you don’t forget to get off the ship. My roommate was still awake from the party that started after midnight and I’m sure got all kinds of crazy. I was disembarking myself since, you know, I travel with a carry-on and I just roll out easily. This meant I was one of the first ones off and had to leave between 6:00 am and 6:30 am. So, I hopped up, got dressed, grabbed my bags, went upstairs for a quick breakfast of American pancakes, said goodbye to the ship and walked off.

It was bittersweet. I was so happy to be back with Sean but so sad of leaving my new friends, the possibility of hanging by the pool all day, and see the Backstreet Boys up close and personal again. I am so glad I went on this cruise and I’m seriously considering booking the next one too.

Boys- I’ll be seeing you again soon!


Would you ever cruise with your music idols? Who would you cruise with?


Jessica Cutrufello wearing a green floral dress, glasses and pink lipstick

Hi! I’m Jessica, an American who made Amsterdam her home in 2014. I share European gems through food and memorable experiences. Want to know more? Head to my about page or check out my YouTube channel.

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