Aside from being wealthy, most people who go on luxury cruises are discerning, seasoned travellers who enjoy interacting with other like-minded passengers. These people are happy to pay more, if it means they can holiday in a 5 star, sophisticated environment where they will be well looked after.
Certainly, on a luxury cruise, every passenger is given a high level of personal service, as the staff are trained to cater to your every need from the moment you board. The ambiance on these ships is refined, yet sociable, with passengers exchanging stories while sipping fine wine and enjoying the kind of international cuisine that would upstage many respectable land-based eateries. While the food on offer is slightly below the level of the world’s top restaurants, it is a cut above the cuisine provided on any other type of cruise ship. Also, the food is served to you by courteous staff, who make every meal a pleasurable experience. Alternatively, if you do not feel like socializing, you can always have food brought to your stateroom.
Generally, luxury cruises offer fewer options for entertainment compared to normal cruises, and the entertainment that is provided is more reserved. Rather than boisterous discos and partying, passengers prefer to socialize with one another in a wine bar, whilst listening to live music. On many luxury cruises, expert speakers are hired to give lectures on a wide range of contemporary and historical issues. These speakers can include scientists, former politicians, historians, academics and explorers. Usually, a luxury cruise itinerary will focus on yachting hotspots, such as those found in many parts of the Caribbean, rather than the large commercial ports. All of this makes for a far more cultured and educational experience, in contrast to the booze fuelled, mindless entertainment that characterises many mainstream cruises.
Staff on luxury cruise ships are able to provide a more personalised service, because the vessels are a smaller size than normal cruise ships. This creates a more intimate atmosphere and allows luxury cruise ships to stop-off at ports that would be overlooked on a mainstream cruise. A small luxury cruise ship will carry no more than two hundred guests, and a big ship will carry no more than one thousand guests. The quieter, more understated nature of these cruises appeals to those who dislike the hustle and bustle of a more commercial cruise line, and who want a service that is tailored to their preferences.
Several luxury ships offer extra treats for guests, such as toiletries from name brands and pyjamas with embroidered cotton logos. While these are only small touches, they are always very popular with passengers, who appreciate the attention to detail. Although most ships do not cater to children, there are some child-friendly vessels that operate during the school holidays. Usually, child minding can be privately organised with an off duty member of staff. Obviously, these types of cruises would not be the first choice for a family holiday. However, facilities can still be offered on these ships to keep children entertained, so family groups are not unheard of.
The smaller high-end cruise lines have always been notorious for their strict dress codes. Historically, black tie suits and evening gowns were mandatory attire for dinner. Nonetheless, recently, many luxury cruise operators (notably Cunard) have adopted more liberal dress codes, to reflect the fact that many modern guests do not enjoy having to dress for dinner. These days, providing you do not dress too outrageously, you can wear virtually whatever you want on many luxury ships. Tradition aside, most people agree that it is a good thing that the cruise lines have taken this approach, as it keeps them up-to-date with current trends.