17 Memorable Surprise Cruise Reveal Ideas

If you love giving gifts, we wouldn't be shocked if you love the thought of these surprise cruise reveal ideas. Part of the fun of a cruise is sharing the joy of trip planning with someone, even before you leave home.

Do you need ideas for how to spill the beans that you've booked a cruise for someone special? We've got you covered.

You can use some of these surprise cruise reveal ideas in combination with others on the list or ones you come up with.

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πŸ• Short on time? No Problem!
Memorable ways to surprise someone with a cruise, with a photo of a riverboat in the water.
Couple looking at each other on the top deck of the American Serenade river cruise ship on the Tennessee River.

1. Create a Memory Book of your Past Adventures to Reveal Your Next Adventure

Create a memory book if you've already been on cruises together β€” or even a trip on land. Then, on the last page, announce your next adventure! (The next adventure is a cruise, with the date of the sailing, of course.)

We LOVE these photo books for travel adventures. In fact, they're the only ones we buy.

Don't forget to plan ahead if you're going to create a photo book for your surprise cruise reveal idea, accounting for your time to create it and shipping.

Check out our favorite high-quality photo books: Artifact Uprising

2. Gift a Charm with a Cruise β€” or Nautical β€” Theme

Adding a charm to a new bracelet, keychain, or necklace (or existing one) is a great gift to give to surprise someone with a cruise. It can be a sailboat charm (especially if you're going on a cruise with sails), a cruise ship charm, or even an anchor charm. Nature charms, such as seashells or fish-inspired charms, are easy to find too.

Pandora is famous for its beautiful charm bracelets. You can get them in gold, silver, or enamel colors. You can also put their charms on necklaces they sell if bracelets aren't the taste of whoever you're gifting them to.

Etsy is another great place to look β€” and customize β€” charm bracelets and find a custom one.

If you love the idea of gifting a bracelet to surprise someone with a cruise and want it to be nautical-themed but not necessarily a charm, check out our review of the OMEGA Sailing Bracelet.

Don't let the Nautical Bracelet you want go out of stock!

3. Make a Cruise Reveal Scavenger Hunt

You can send someone on a scavenger hunt with clues leading to the next location, ending in your surprise gift: a cruise reveal!

There's no need to venture far from home for this if you want to carry out a cruise surprise scavenger hunt in your house or apartment or just your neighborhood. (It's a great date idea at home, too.) You can even end the scavenger hunt where you keep your luggage so you're all set to pack your bags.

If you want to amp up the surprise cruise scavenger hunt, give the person you're gifting the cruise to a basket or bag with the first clue. Then, at each subsequent location where there is a cruise, he or she will find a small gift there.

At the end of the scavenger hunt, they'll be shocked to find you're going on a cruise together but also have a cool basket of cruise supplies ready for the trip.

4. Create a Fish Tank Surprise Cruise Reveal

Do you have a fish tank in your house? Or can you get one?

If so, purchase a small cruise ship memento to go inside the tank and guide your loved one over for a fun surprise cruise reveal idea.

It doesn't have to be a cruise ship (and you certainly don't want a sunken ship.) It can be something like a treasure chest if you're going on a Caribbean or tropical cruise or a seashell that you write the cruise info on.

Arrr! Ahoy mateys…surprise someone with a cruise with a fun treasure chest!

Man's hand holding a small treasure chest with a gold coin in it for a surprise cruise reveal ideas.

5. Create a Gift Basket (or Bag)

One of the most fun surprise cruise-reveal ideas is to put together a specialty-themed gift basket or bag. Here are a few great ideas we came up with:

  • Ports of Call themed: Create a gift basket of items related to the ports of call on the itinerary. For example, if you're going on a Danube River Cruise, you can include a bag of German pretzels, Vienna Cafe coffee mix from Austria, and paprika from Hungary. Reveal the common thread to the gift receiver in a card or in person!
  • Nautical-themed: Include things like snorkel gear (whether it will be your first time snorkeling on a cruise or your fifth), coral-reef-safe sunscreen, a sea or ocean-scented candle, and an anchor keychain.
  • Cruise Essentials themed: Get a fun towel, customized luggage tags, a personalized tumbler, and maybe even some fun sunglasses to add to a Cruise Essentials theme gift basket.

If you want a special bag, it can double as a duffle bag for your cruise or a beach bag for the trip.

6. Surprise Someone with a Cruise with a Message in a Bottle

Why not put a message in a glass bottle for a surprise trip reveal? It harkens back to the ocean and ships anyway, which is just what you need for a sea (or river, or lake) dwelling adventure.

Where do you find a bottle to use for this memorable keepsake? Here, on Etsy, of course!

Get a second β€œbottle” (aka, bubbly!) to celebrate!

7. Whisk her (or him) away

If you want the ultimate surprise then immediate gratification of going on a cruise, simply whisk someone away. You can pack bags for him or her, and even ask that person's boss for days off work if necessary. (My brother-in-law did this when he planned a surprise cruise for my sister. He proposed on the cruise!)

Then simply let that person know you're leaving…right now! We suggest stacking on surprise cruise reveal ideas to this one, so there's something you give that person just before you drive to the port or go to the airport to get to the port.

So, for example, you'd give the person a cruise gift basket, include a card or prepare a speech to say, “We're leaving right now!”

8. Airport Surprise

This one is easier to surprise kids with, but it's fun for anyone who likes surprises.

If you have to fly to the port of embarkation, surprise your kids with a twist on a switch-a-roo! Pack the car the night before you leave for the cruise. Then tell them you are all going to the airport to pick up a friend and they can't stay home alone.

Tell them their bags are packed for the cruise when you get to the airport! Don't forget fun cruise luggage tags to showcase the exciting news!

Cruise Lanyards & Luggage Tags

Be sure to have some fun things on your luggage or items to hand to your surprised cruisers, like nautical-themed luggage tags and lanyards!

9. The ‘Ole Switch-a-roo

If you are surprising someone who is game for any surprise, use the ‘ole switcharoo! Tell him/her that you're going to the beach or to the movies, for example, and then keep driving to the port! Just don't forget your luggage; keep in mind you'll have to pack for the people you're surprising.

10. Make a Fun Ocean or Boat-Themed Playlist

Do you ever turn on music in your home while you're making dinner, for instance? We do!

Create a music playlist with cruise-themed songs or songs inspired by your destination. For example, if you're going to Key West on a cruise, throw together a list of Jimmy Buffett tunes! Then drop hints on why you created the playlist.

Combine this with the start of a scavenger hunt, or cruise-themed bag, or gift basket idea.

11. Buy a Cruise Ship Holiday Ornament for Your Christmas Tree

Do you celebrate the holidays with a Christmas tree? Or anything like it?

If so, you can buy a cruise ornament and “hide” it in the tree. Then, perhaps on Christmas morning, ask your loved one to find the newest ornament on the tree. The reason it's there may need a bit more explaining but probably not much, once the other person finds it!

If you want to reveal the date with the ornament, create a little tag with the sailing information to float on top of it.

There are some VERY cute cruise ship ornaments on Etsy.

12. Write a Surprise Cruise Poem

Write a poem that includes the surprise reveal in it. Use words in your surprise cruise poem that have to do with the water, or the destination, or the cruise line.

Don't forget to get a great cruise greeting card to write the poem in!

13. Use a Custom Puzzle for a Surprise Cruise Reveal

If you're into putting together puzzles (we certainly love puzzles) then purchase a custom puzzle from somewhere like Etsy, with the big reveal. Be sure to keep in mind, however, that you may need a “puzzle completion date deadline” for this one. You wouldn't want to finish the puzzle after the cruise leaves.

For example, check out this puzzle that says, “We're Going to Alaska” puzzle. Wouldn't that be so exciting to give to someone to announce a cruise surprise to Alaska? The best part is the puzzle is simple so the suspense is minimized. This Etsy Seller, FJ4LifeCreations, has a lot of these puzzles to announce various locations and you can also order a custom design too.

Wood puzzle that says "We're going to Alaska!" with the mountains on the bottom.

14. Create a Countdown Calendar

If you want to keep the excitement up as the days tick away and your cruise embarkation day gets closer and closer, create a countdown calendar. Tear off the day before as the next day comes into focus and your cruise gets ever-closer!

15. Disney Cruisers: Schedule a Call from the Characters

If you're going on a Disney Cruise and want to surprise a partner or your kids, you can schedule a surprise call from one of the characters. It's very easy to do in the Disney Cruise Line (DCL) Navigator App.

Don't forget to check out our invaluable DCL check-in process post, which shares what else you can do within the app like schedule a call from a character, including Mickey, Minnie, Donald, etc.

Want to take it to the next level? Have a basket, gift bag, or Mickey tote ready to hand over to the person receiving the call to keep that excitement going with a tangible item that they can use to pack for your Disney Cruise!

Mickey Tote

If you schedule a call from one of the Disney characters for a Disney Cruise, have a tote filled with Disney and cruise-themed goodies ready to hand over to the receiver of the call, who you're surprising. Something tangible like this will amp up everyone's excitement and is a great day-pack bag for your Disney Cruise.

16. Create a Word Search or Special Crossword Puzzle

If the person or people you're thinking of these surprise cruise reveal ideas for like brain teasers, create a special word search or crossword puzzle that has “surprise” and “cruise” in it.

Here are some additional ideas for what to include in the word puzzle:

  • Ports of call
  • Countries you'll be visiting
  • Packing list items
  • Cruise ship name
  • Cruise line name
  • Things you expect to see or experience during the cruise, like parasailing, snorkeling, glacier walks in Alaska, or wine tastings in Bordeaux!
  • Your family name or the names of everyone going on the cruise

17. Create a YouTube Playlist β€” Finish by Playing Your Own Video

Make a YouTube playlist with videos of the ship you'll be going on, or videos with the itinerary ports of call. Tell the person you're surprising with a cruise that you want to watch TV together, and then start playing the ship videos.

If that person likes cruises too he or she may not even question why you're watching one! But if that person doesn't, simply say that you heard about a cool feature or location that the cruise sails to.

At the end, be sure to have a pre-recorded video of yourself revealing the surprise cruise ready to go!

Animated map on a blue background.

Ready to Book Your Cruise or INquire?

Use our preferred travel advisors, Bolds Travel, Because…

  • They take away the hassle of travel planning: time spent on the phone with the cruise line could be time you spend doing other things.
  • You don't pay them a dime: their service is free (this is because they get paid by the cruise line or destination).
  • Their experience: They have decades of experience and attention to detail.
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