Cruise ships offer high levels of comfort and service but for exceptional personal service, attention to detail and fine cuisine, there are dedicated ultra-luxury all inclusive ships where the entire on board ambience is refined yet relaxed. High passenger space and passenger to crew ratios mean that space and service are always of the highest quality on the world's most luxury ships.
The ships tend to be small to medium-sized with some feeling like private yachts, with as few as 50 passengers, while others have several superb restaurants to choose from and plenty of activities.
Whatever the size, attentive, personalised service is what sets these ships apart - you'll be greeted with champagne upon and you can expect to be called by your name and your favourite tipple will be remembered at the bar.
Fine dining is a big part of the luxury experience and menus will be varied, creative and fresh, delivered to the highest standards of presentation by often world-class onboard chefs and experienced sommeliers will be on hand to recommend wines (included in the price on many luxury ships).
At sea, space is the ultimate premium and this is reflected in the cabin grades. Top suites will have several rooms manned by a team of personal butlers, superb positions on the ship and even grand pianos, plunge pools and private decks. All cabin grades should have the highest quality toiletries and bed linen, spacious bathrooms and 24-hour room service. Most luxury ships have spas of varying size and quality plus immaculate boutiques and casinos.
In port, disembarkation should be a leisurely and queue-free affair. Many ships offer personalised excursions and intimate-sized groups; some small ships even have drop-down platforms at the back of the vessel with sailboats and jet skis while others offer once-in-a-lifetime cultural tours.
Whatever luxury means to you, there's a cruise ship to match it.