For Rider Strong, going on cruises with fans in the ‘90s was nothing short of a “nightmare.”
During the Sunday, November 19, episode of the “Pod Meets World” podcast, Strong, 43, opened up about the two events he did with Sail the Stars. The actor, who starred as Shawn Hunter on Boy Meets World from 1993 to 2000, shared how he and his family were able to go on an “all expenses paid” cruise in exchange for fans gaining “access” to their favorite celebrities.
“The benefit for me and my family is we got to go on a cruise for free. The problem is you are stuck on a boat with nowhere to go and you’re working the whole time,” Strong explained to cohosts Danielle Fishel and Will Friedle, noting that there was no privacy outside of their “tiny” cabins. “Everyone could just walk up to you. And these people had paid thousands of dollars … So they felt they had a right to talk to you, get to know you, take a photo with you, dance with you, go to your dinner table. Everywhere you went you were an object of companionship for these people. It was very disconcerting for me and very uncomfortable.”
Strong noted that while the first cruise he did only involved having to “wave” and say hello on stage, the second trip, which included other celebrities like Fishel, 42, Tia and Tamera Mowry, Jodie Sweetin and Jonathan Taylor Thomas, was a bigger “production” that required him to put on a “constant” show that included dancing on stage “every night.”
“I’m an actor, I guess I should have been OK with that. But I really wasn’t,” he said, adding that the worst part of the trip was the “complete” lack of privacy. “I was just going through a lot. I was 15 years old, I did not want to be famous.”
Strong recalled feeling envious of Taylor Thomas, 42, who was “probably as miserable to dance,”but seemed “more self-assured and confident in how he could say no to these things.”
“Partly because I was a kid or teenager, understanding those boundaries and understanding how to set those boundaries is very hard for me,” he continued.
While Strong said he was uninterested in returning for a second cruise after having a less-than-stellar experience the first time around, his mom ultimately came to him with a pitch he couldn’t refuse.
“I really did not want to go back and I told my parents as much,” he said. “Then my mom informed me [Sail With the Stars was] not only going to pay for my parents to go but my grandparents .. and it was their lifelong dream to go on a cruise.”
Strong shared that he spent a lot of time in his room to avoid having to participate in the big events, which led to a lot of “guilt” from the Sail With the Stars organization. “It’s for charity, so I was not doing my job for charity,” he explained, to which Friedle, 47, replied that it “sucks” to do things for charity just for people to “come at you” and claim you’re not fulfilling your responsibilities. “That’s not cool. That’s not cool at all,” he said.
Fishel, meanwhile, said she had the “opposite” experience on the cruise ships and called it the “time of [her] life.”
“This was one of the greatest things that had ever happened to me,” she gushed of the memory. “My whole family is there, I love my family, the food’s delicious, it’s free-flowing, and there’s virgin Pina Coladas everywhere you turn.” Fishel added that she also had on-off boyfriend Taylor Thomas and “future crush” Strong with her, whose avoidance confused her.
“I was always like, ‘Why is he so anti-social? I just don’t know why he’s hiding out in his room, it’s so fun!’” she said.