I guess my opinion is 50/50. And it's funny you should ask, because I've thought a lot about this since returning. I did like the boats, because that fifteen (or so) minutes gave me time to get something to eat, or let my dogs out, eavesdrop on conversations, etc. On the other hand, there are those quests where you have to travel between continents often, and in that regard, the ferries were a royal pain. I mean, in those cases you'd spend more time travelling than anything else. Now, I tend to use Teleport Rocks quite a bit, but before the recent glitch in the long routes (wasn't able to get on the ferries or they'd dock and then leave immediately) I was using the boats whenever I had a little extra time.
As far as selling points? As much as I appreciate the old travel methods, I think implementing direct travel was a smart idea. A wise man once said, "I want it, and I want it right away." Sadly, I feel this is (probably) the attitude of today's players, and for many other aspects of life other than gaming.