Mystery trips will keep clients guessing, right up to departure

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Jeri Clausing
Jeri Clausing

One thing the pandemic taught travelers was how to be nimble, with diehard globetrotters forced to repeatedly change vacation plans over this past year.

Now, some luxury travel companies are betting adventurous travelers will embrace the unknown with the launch of "mystery" trips.

Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, for instance, this week announced its first Mystery Cruise, a 10-day sailing that will launch from somewhere in Europe on June 12, 2022. Hosted by company president and CEO Ellen Bettridge, Uniworld promises "a brand new itinerary, featuring over-the-top, unique experiences both on and off the ship" that have never been offered by Uniworld before.

Bettridge called it an "incredible bucket list trip full of surprises for those that love the thrill of adventure; the biggest surprise being the itinerary reveal that will only happen when our guests are already on their way to the airport."

In the weeks prior to departure, Uniworld guests booked on the Mystery Cruise will receive various clues as well as a packing list to prepare. A few additional clues may be added onto the website as it gets closer to departure, the company said. Uniworld's Mystery Cruise starts at $6,999 per person including airfare.

While guests on the Uniworld trip at least have a clue to the region they will travel and who they will be sailing with, the luxury online travel site Wonderlust and the luxury travel advisor Travel Sommelier have teamed up to offer an even more secretive Magical Mystery Tour.

Those companies haven't given any clues other than to say that on their trip "guests can expect to enjoy the height of luxury, mind-blowing gastronomy and a magical immersive experience in an exquisite, dramatic setting."

Once travelers express interest in the trip, they will receive a questionnaire to ensure the itinerary and destination are aligned to their interests, the companies said.

Prices for that trip start at $11,999 per person.

The concept is far from new. In fact, a company called Magical Mystery Tours has been offering custom, surprise trips since 2009.

It will be interesting to see, however, if the concept takes hold with more traditional luxury travel suppliers.

Bettridge, obviously, said she believes there's a post-pandemic market for the adventures.

"With vaccines rolling out and borders opening up, our guests have communicated that they're willing to travel anywhere just to get back out there and explore the world once again," Bettridge said. "After this chaotic year, there's no need to take on any additional stress, so we've taken care of all of the details so that our guests can sit back and enjoy this mystery trip of a lifetime."

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