A Cruise to … Somewhere – You know you’re a serious cruise fan when you sign on to sail an unknown itinerary.

Monday Mantra

It’s a Mystery…It’s a Mystery…It’s a Mystery…

A Cruise to … Somewhere

You know you’re a serious cruise fan when you sign on to sail an unknown itinerary.

You know how it is when you’ve booked a cruise. Everyone you know — your friends, your family — all ask where you’re going. Now, imagine if your response to their question could be “I have absolutely no idea” — and you wouldn’t even be yankin’ their chain!

On November 7, 2016, Saga Cruises, a line that’s marketed almost exclusively in the UK, sets sail from Southampton on a 24-day “Mystery Cruise” aboard its 37,049 grt, 720-passenger Saga Sapphire and let me tell you, this is a definite addition to my cruise bucket list.

Saga’s Mystery Cruise isn’t one of those lame “whodunnit” sailings where a bunch of bad actors take a week off from their restaurant jobs and act out a poorly devised script while guests spend a week trying to guess the identity of the killer. The mystery, in this case, is where you’re sailing!

On the Mystery Cruise, all ports of call are kept strictly under wraps with only the captain and top officers knowing where the heck they’re headed and they’re not revealing a thing until you dock. The daily program won’t say squat and all the electronic maps and charts around the ship (except for those on the bridge, we would hope) are turned off so the destination remains top, top, top secret and then suddenly it’s, like, “Surprise! We’re in Latvia!” or wherever.

From the little I’ve read about Saga’s past Mystery Cruises, the ship offers clues that completely mess with your head. Irish coffees may be offered, suggesting you’re en route to the Emerald Isle and then — bam — they hit you with a Thai dinner that totally blindsides you since there’s no way you could make it to Phuket from Southampton and back, even in 24 days. Some captains even sail in circles to completely baffle the oh-so-serious sailors who can spout the latitude and longitude of every major port on the globe (you know the type).

Saga Cruises_SHP_Saga_Sapphire_EXT_3977a SMALLERI just love captains with a mischievous side and wicked sense of humor.

It always ticks me off when I find myself almost totally ignorant of something cool and quirky in the cruise world, particularly when it’s been going on almost annually since 2007 like the Saga Mystery Cruise has been (they only skipped 2009, 2010 and 2011). Maybe I won’t be aboard Saga Sapphire when she sets sail for … wherever … a year from now, but don’t count me out for a future Mystery Cruise (like when I’m retired and can take nearly a month for vacation).

For me, ports have always been secondary to simply being aboard a ship and though I have certainly sailed to some magnificent places, I’m more than ready to be surprised.


— Judi Cuervo

Judi Cuervo is a New York City native who fell in love with cruising in 1976 during her first sailing aboard Carnival Cruises’ Mardi Gras. Twenty years later, she began her freelance cruise writing gig and, since that time, has covered mass market, ultra-premium, riverboat and expedition ships for regional, national and international publications as well as cruise websites.