We’ve distilled the very best excuses to jump on the phone to a travel agent and book up!

  1. Value

Cruising is great value for money. Onboard meals, entertainment and activities are included, and there are no transport costs – your hotel comes along for the ride. Alcohol is often extra (unless you book a luxe trip), and a growing number of ships offer special restaurants with a surcharge. How can you tell if a cruise is worth it? Work out the daily rate of a hotel, add transfers, excursions, food, wine, service and entertainment. Starting to look like a bargain? It often is.

  1. Food

Seared scallops or signature barbecued rubbed rib eye? Guided tour of exotic food markets with a celebrity chef? Foodies will find some of the best-loved chefs serving up stunning food experiences for every taste aboard their ship. Acclaimed chefs Luke Mangan and Mark Best deliver signature dishes on P&O and Dream Cruises respectively, while chef Luke Nguyen uncovers authentic flavours of Asia on his APT Vietnam and Mekong River Cruise. Oceania Cruises’ master chefs lead classes from modern Nordic to healthy Greek.

  1. Kids

Mums and dads often complain they don’t see their kids until the evening meal, thanks to supervised clubs and activities aboard many specialist family cruise lines. Aboard the Avengers Academy Disney ships, for instance, Captain America nobly sets aside his battle with the forces of evil to babysit young superheroes while you put up your feet. Carnival ships serve up Dr Seuss-esque breakfasts of green eggs and ham, the Royal Caribbean DreamWorks Experience sees Shrek and Fiona pop out to say hello, and on Norwegian Cruise Line ships, crowd favourite Dora the Explorer hosts dance parties for the little ones.

  1. Enrichment and learning

Just because the body’s in full relaxation mode doesn’t mean your mind has to take a holiday. Upskill on National Geographic and Lindblad Expedition’s photography cruises with National Geographic photographers from Alaska to the Galapagos. Onboard enrichment courses feature guest lecturers that have included Desmond Tutu, Valerie Taylor, Bill Bryson and Baz Luhrmann. Dream Cruises also has photographers from National Geographic, astronauts who have been to space and more. Seabourn has offered enrichments talks on the new Seabourn Encore from the likes of chef Darren McGrady, who has cooked for the British royal family, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Walter Robinson and Tim Rice, the Award-winning lyricist who has created hit musicals like The Lion King and Evita.

  1. Spa & relaxation

Imagine taking a short stroll from your spa-class room to your organic body wrap and massage treatment then reclining in a glass-walled Persian Garden steam room. Welcome to cruising! Princess Cruises has the special Izumi Spa which features a Japanese spa for both men and women. In the AquaSpa class on Celebrity Cruises, relaxation and wellness at sea includes access to the healthy menus of the AquaBlu restaurants. Costa’s Samsara Spa has thalassotherapy, Ayurvedic massage and personal training, and Royal Caribbean’s Vitality Spa includes Elemis Aroma stone therapy, exfoliating body masks and acupuncture.

  1. Entertainment

Forget cheesy crooners and lame stand-up comics – live entertainment on cruise ships these days is the equal to anything you’ll find on land. Royal Caribbean hosts a dance music festival called It’s the Ship onboard Mariner of the Seas. The kooky, global sensation Blue Man Group performs on Norwegian Cruise Lines’ Norwegian Epic while other past performers to dial up the cruise line entertainment have included Kid Rock, Olivia Newton-John and Jennifer Hudson. Princess Cruises stages the new musical Magic to Do by Academy Award-winning producer Stephen Schwartz and Dream Cruises has a new production called China’s Got Talent. The acrobats are jaw-dropping.

  1. Inaccessible places

There are some places where taking trains, planes and automobiles just won’t cut it. The edge of ice-sheets in Antarctica or the Arctic for example. But inaccessible doesn’t have to mean the polar fringes of the planet – more and more it means cruising to places such as the Norwegian fjords, the Kimberley region of northern Australia, where you can reach uninhabited inlets and secluded waterways, as well as the Russian Far East including the Kamchatka Peninsula and the volcanic Kuril Islands where the water’s edge seethes with huge colonies of sea birds.

  1. Wildlife

From polar bears on the Arctic ice to the orphan orangutans of the Indonesian archipelago, cruising can deliver you directly to the natural habitat of rare and exotic beasts like no other kind of travel. Lindblad Expeditions takes you to the protected island of Komodo to see the impressive Komodo dragons in their own habitat, as well as hornbills and proboscis monkeys endemic to Borneo. A host of cruise lines head to Antarctica, Aqua Expeditions runs trips up the Amazon to spot sloths, squirrel monkeys and capybara, and go piranha fishing, and ever-popular Alaskan tours are famous for whales, sea otters and seals.

  1. A city at sea with all the services

A cruise ship is a city at sea, but without any of the stress. On a cruise ship you can go between your favourite Thai restaurant, a 3D movie, the store and the bar without the nightmare of parking and traffic gridlock. If only real life was that easy. Cruise ships now have all the services that you get on land, including WiFi, phone network, cinemas, any number of food and beverage options, hair and beauty services and even boot camps. And while the shopping includes designer brands and luxury goods, there are also places to stock up on essentials like toothpaste.

  1. Romance

Cruise liners conjure old-fashioned romance like few other modes of travel – think formal dinners, silver service, grand ballrooms and chandeliers. Cunard has a “black tie” class ensuring your fellow diners won’t turn up in garish Hawaiian shirts and safari suits, and many other cruise lines have rules for formal evening occasions. For those taking the ultimate romantic leap, a range of lines offer a full wedding service including floral arrangements and a ceremony at sea conducted by the captain while more modern lovebirds can sign up for couple massages or a bed scattered with rose petals. Now, all together: ahhhh…