What is a Mystery Cruise? (Cruise Guide and Examples)

Have you ever considered booking a mystery cruise? There are many advantages to booking a cruise where you don’t know the full itinerary but there are some disadvantages too. In this post, we will look at what types of mystery cruises are available and look at the benefits/drawbacks of a cruise like this.

What is a Mystery Cruise?

A mystery cruise is a cruise where the passengers don’t know which ports will be stopped at during the cruise. The cruise has a fixed start and endpoint and passengers know how long the cruise will last. Details of the cruises itinerary are revealed to guests day by day. 

A number of cruise lines provide mystery cruises and the amount to which the itinerary is a ‘mystery’ varies. On some mystery cruises, passengers may have a rough idea of where the cruise is going and on others, they have no idea.

What is a mystery cruise? Saga

Which Cruise Lines Offer Mystery Cruises?

Fred Olsen

Visit Fred Olsen’s website here.

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Fred Olsen is the only cruise line in the UK that currently offers mystery cruises. They cruise regularly from the UK and have two main types of ‘mystery cruises’. The majority of Fred Olsen cruises still have set itineraries.

An example mystery cruise from Fred Olsen is described as below:

An exciting nine-night Mystery Cruise, this is the ideal getaway if you’re looking for a holiday with a difference, or simply can’t decide where to go to next with Fred. Olsen.

Enjoy a unique cruising experience with hundreds, not thousands, of fellow guests on board Black Watch, sailing an intriguing itinerary of destinations that will be kept secret until the last moment.

Whether it’s to some of favourite your places or destinations you’ve always wanted to visit, you’re in for a mysterious and memorable journey of discovery wherever your Captain takes you.

Mystery Cruises

Some cruises with Fred Olsen are complete ‘mystery cruises’ this means that no passengers onboard have any idea about where the ship is going. It is claimed that only the captain knows where the ship is going but I’m sure most of the crew do know.

Fred Olsen Balmoral Olden

“Choose Your Cruise”

Fred Olsen also offers cruises which allow passengers to ‘choose their cruise’. These cruises are kind of a halfway house between a regular scheduled cruise and mystery cruises. On a ‘choose your cruise’ cruise passengers are invited to vote for where they would like the ship to stop next. Each day there are two choices on the itinerary and the one which received the most votes becomes the next stop on the cruise.

These cruises provide an element of mystery while still allowing passengers to know which countries they will be visiting and roughly what they will be seeing. I’m sure this makes it much easier for things like knowing what to pack.

Every vote counts on this very special cruise! You and your fellow, like-minded guests on board Black Watch have the chance to create a unique itinerary, choosing between a selection of attraction-packed islands and cities in Portugal and Spain. Will you ‘steer your ship’ to a few old favourites, or perhaps places you haven’t visited before? Remember, the power is in your hands.

Fred Olsen Mystery Cruise

Advantages of a Mystery Cruise

New Ports

Taking a mystery cruise means that you may have the opportunity to visit ports that you’ve never been to before. Ports on a mystery cruise tend to be lesser known in order to give the passengers something different. Most people who cruise on mystery cruises do so because they want to try something new and new ports are often part of the fun.

You Can be Indecisive!

I am incredibly indecisive and actually really think I’d like a mystery cruise. A mystery cruise takes all of the stress out of planning because you really cannot spend a lot of time doing your research.


Many guests book mystery cruises just for the excitement of finding out where they are going the next day. I have to admit it does sound like a lot of fun. It would give you a talking point with your fellow guests and I imagine that the atmosphere on board is a lot of fun.

Disadvantages of a Mystery Cruise


It is possible that guests may be disappointed with the choices of ports but I suppose this is just a risk you take with a mystery cruise. By taking a cruise that has multiple ports calls you can increase the chance that you’ll find a port you like. On mystery cruises, the captain and crew usually try to find a variety of ports, some large ports and some smaller.

Tromso Norway

“Mystery Cruise Mutiny”

I was recently invited on BBC Radio Norfolk to talk about a recent news story to do with a mystery cruise with Fred Olsen.

Guests embarked on a mystery cruise from Newcastle and a few complained to the newspapers when their first stop on the cruise was Great Yarmouth. Personally I think that when you take a mystery cruise you are taking a risk as to where you end up cruising to.

“Disgruntled cruise ship passengers staged a ‘mutiny’ after their mystery voyage ended up stopping at Great Yarmouth and a Dutch port likened to a council estate.

Some travellers refused to even step off the Balmoral ship after forking out up to £1,400 for an 11-night stay. According to The Sun, others got into heated rows with staff aboard the 710-room vessel about the lacklustre itinerary.

One guest told the paper: ‘It’s mutiny on here.’ Having set off from Newcastle, many of the guests expecting to find ‘hidden gems’ were underwhelmed when the liner docked for its first stop in Norfolk – nothing more than a very expensive lift home for some.” Read more: Mystery Cruise Mutiny. 

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Where To Next?

If you’re considering your first cruise, or would just like to learn a little more about cruising, this post is a brilliant place to start: 67 Cruise Tips From 67 Cruisers. 

The post shares tips from 67 real cruisers and takes you through from embarkation to disembarkation. By reading this guide you’ll be better prepared for your cruise than 99% of other cruisers!67 first time cruise tips from 67 cruisers ultimate cruise tips guide

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Emma Le Teace

Hey! I'm Emma. A cruise blogger, YouTuber and founder of the 'Cruising Isn't Just For Old People' Facebook community and website. You can learn more here: About Me.

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