Just as hotels vary, depending on their price level, location and type of clientele, likewise there are ships for everyone: it's just a question of finding the right one for you (and I'll let you into a secret - a specialist cruise agency will help you every step of the way). You might wonder why you would even bother - hotels suit you fine. Here are our five top reasons to choose a cruise instead.
1. Wake up somewhere new every day
We often hear non-cruisers explain that they like to explore in-depth: but in fact planning a daily expedition from your hotel can be challenging and stressful. Within days you will have exhausted the sightseeing opportunities and done the most interesting hikes. On a cruise you wake in a new place every day: you can explore independently ashore, arrange a private trip, or join a tour you couldn't have arranged for yourself: access to a private palace, for example, or a market visit and cooking class with a local chef.
2. Unpack only once
You may have done some amazing tours, in India for example, or on safari in East Africa. But I can't be the only one who is terrible at working out how to pack when on the move: remembering what you are going to need for each day's activity, ensuring it is to hand in your suitcase, and in a presentable state. Imagine unpacking only once, and then having everything at your fingertips, whatever the weather and wherever you plan to go.
3. A sea view every time
Choosing your accommodation in a hotel can be tricky, and it is hard to get to grips with the different types of room available: photo angles can be misleading, and those partial sea views can be a disappointment. On a luxury ship, all the rooms are ocean front, and most with private verandah. You can pick exactly where you are going to be, and select your room by number rather than category. The layout is clear, and if your family is travelling with you, interconnecting rooms and adjacent suites are all available.
4. As private or as social as you wish
For some people, the thought of meeting new people when on holiday is anathema - in that case, choose a lovely spacious suite on board with a butler to take care of you and private guides to meet you in every port. But if you like to socialise, you will find plenty of kindred spirits on a ship, and plenty of ways to meet them: at a lecture or class, over a game of bridge, or relaxing at a beautiful bar with sea view. And because everyone joins the ship on the same day, you won't have that disappointing experience of meeting someone whose company you really enjoy, only to find they are flying home tomorrow.
5. Extraordinary value
Now we come to the most important thing - the extraordinary value for money that a luxury cruise represents. Take a look at the upfront cost: it may seem a little high, but probably around the same cost as your favourite luxury boutique or resort hotel. Then take a look at what's included: the outstanding food in a variety of restaurants, the extensive room service menus, the surprise caviar at cocktail hour, the range of included drinks including spirits and Champagne, all the service charges, and in some cases even the shore excursions. The value is beyond extraordinary.