The ‘secret’ or ‘mystery’ cruise appeals to the frequent cruiser who’s looking for something surprising and new, experts say.
There’s an air of mystery at sea.
A handful of cruise lines have launched “mystery cruises,” in which cruisers don’t know where they’re going until they arrive. Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines is offering three “mystery cruises” for the 2019-20 season — seven, eight and 11-night expeditions sailing from U.K. ports like Dover, Newcastle and Southhampton. Fred. Olsen says that the “itinerary will be kept a secret until the last possible moment, with your Captain keeping you guessing until you arrive in each port of call.”
Cruise line Saga offers a “secret cruise” that also sets sail from the U.K. from the Port of Tyne, simply noting on its site that “Our unique Secret Cruise will whet your appetite for fun and adventure, as the itinerary is slowly revealed day by day, with the ports only announced once the ship has berthed.”
It’s a trend that some cruise experts say will catch on. “I think it will grow in popularity,” says Renee Shannon, a senior researcher at CruiseCompete.com and AllThingsCruise.com. “The cruise lines tend to copy each other.”
Indeed, for its part Fred. Olsen is already offering more mystery cruises, having started with just one in 2014. And some larger lines are toying with the idea too. Carnival’s brand ambassador John Heald wrote a post on Facebook in 2017 saying “I think we should do a mystery 7 day cruise” and then asked fans if they’d go on one of these cruises. More than 5,100 people commented on the post, with many embracing the idea. But Carnival confirmed to Marketwatch that they don’t have one of these cruises on the docket yet.
One reason these keep-them-guessing voyages may grow in popularity? They offer something new to the myriad frequent cruisers who have seen a lot of spots already. Just under two-thirds of cruisers have been on at least one cruise already, research shows. Clare Ward, the director of product and customer service for Fred. Olsen, says these cruises “are especially great for our guests who have already travelled to a number of their ‘must visit’ destinations with us, and who are looking to venture to new places” adding that about 60% of their clients are repeat customers.
But Colleen McDaniel, the senior executive editor of Cruise Critic, says “it will be tough” to turn this into a wider trend. Fred. Olsen and Saga can offer these cruises because they have a lot of repeat customers who trust their brands deeply, so they’re willing to take a risk on a mystery trip. They also use smaller ships, and fewer customers are needed to fill such ships, which means that a niche trip like a mystery cruise can sell out, she says. That’s not true of many other cruise lines.
Of course, these cruises aren’t for everyone: Even if you like surprises, it’s not going to be a complete mystery because you know your origination port and duration of the trip, notes Shannon. And these cruises aren’t cheap: Fred. Olsen’s mystery cruises start at about £899 (roughly $1,100) per person for a 7-night trip, for example….
Source: www.marketwatch.com (By Catey Hill)
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