My wife and I leave on a 4 night cruise on the Carnival Inspiration on Thursday and my wife doesn't have a clue that we are going. I booked it a few weeks ago and have been going nuts trying to keep it from her. Were going on the Allure of the Seas in October so she will be shocked. This will be he first time we have vacationed without our kids in 20 years. She thinks were just getting away for a few days, maybe a broadway show or something simple. Boy will she be surprised when we pull up at the airport. I am not telling her it's a cruise until we meet the Carnival rep at the airport for our ride the the cruise terminal. I went and bought all new stuff for her including a new formal dress. I booked her a massage on Friday morning at the spa and were taking an excursion to the Myan Ruins in Cozemel. I think I may just score a few points on this one...lol.
I would love to video her reaction first as we pulled up to the airport. At this point she probably would think were going to Las Vegas. Then as we arrive and meet the Carnival Rep, that would be a priceless movement. If she only knew that in 5 days she would be on a cruise she would be going nuts with excitement. I am not sure if I am more excited for the cruise or to surpise my wife.
I suspect your wife might start getting suspicious when at the airport they announce the flight to Tampa is boarding. I did this same type of thing back in 2004 with my Husband. It was only for a 2nt Cruise-to-nowhere on the new Carnival Miracle out of Tampa. Once he realized we were going to Tampa, I continued to keep it a surprise by saying we were going to spend a couple days in Tampa and go to Busch Gardens and maybe drive over to Disney.
A couple of friends did this with their young son a few years ago. They had booked a cruise for later in the year (that their son knew about), and one morning told their son they'd like to drive into town to show him what a different cruise ship looked like. (The later-in-the-year cruise was to be their son's first.) Once they got there, they kept it going by saying, "Maybe they'll let us go inside." Of course, they were booked on this cruise, as well.
Being practical here -- just remember to bring your wife's passport or birth certificate, and make sure she takes her drivers license with her. I'd hate for this to fall apart last-minute.
Have a WONDERFUL time, and let us know how it goes!