Considering going on a vacation soon? Which is a better value – a cruise or a stay at an all inclusive resort?
Here are our comparisons with information on pros and cons of both.
What is included in the price you pay?
Included in the price is your cabin, meals in the standard dining room and buffet (and some alternate venues, depending on the ship), shipboard entertainment (and there is plenty going on day and night) and taxes. Drinks that are included generally are iced tea and on some cruise lines, lemonade or fruit punch.
What is additional?
Excursions, drinks (beer, wine, liquor, soda), spa treatments, gambling, tips, photos, any onboard purchases, alternate dining venues and on some ships, ice cream, internet access.
Pros of cruising:
You are in a different city or country almost every day of the cruise. There are plenty of excursions to choose from to keep you busy or you can stay on the ship and chill out if that is what you enjoy. There is always something going on during the day, you can be as busy or as quiet as you choose to be. There are shows almost every night on the ship, lots of dancing and clubs. You can eat all day if you choose to. You unpack and pack once yet can see many different cities or countries.
You can keep up an exercise routine, as the gyms are free on ships and most ships have a jogging track.
Cruise prices are very discounted right now, so it is very easy to find a well priced cruise if you are not traveling during peak season (Holidays or any time kids are out of school).
Cons of cruising:
Liquor can be expensive (if you can get a large group together, some cruise lines offer liquor packages for groups). I've seen people double the cost of their cruise with their liquor bill. With the number of late or canceled flights, if you need to fly to the ship pier, you should fly at at least a day before ensure you do not miss the ship. That results in the cost of a hotel for the prior night.
Excursions also add up, but you can walk off the ship and find tour operators willing to give you a tour for less money. (Just make sure you are back before the ship leaves – they will not wait for you and then you'll be forced to fly to the next port to meet the ship at your own expense).
The pools are very crowded during sea days, thanks to what is commonly known as "chair hogs" – people who get up early and lay towels on pool side chairs to hold the seats until they are ready to use them. (There are great ways of dealing with these people).
You could end up in a cabin that is in an undesirable location – such as under or over a nightclub or dining room, or at the very front of back of the ship. (If you use a good cruise travel agent, this should never happen!)
Some people get seasick, although with the stabilizers on today's ships, this is greatly minimized. With proper preparation before cruising and bringing appropriate meds or remedies that can be minimized.
What is included?
Meals, drinks (including liquor), rooms, entertainment, non-motorized water sports and for some resorts, golf and scuba diving (for certified divers). Some All Inclusives also forbid employees to accept tips (Sandals). Sometimes transfers to and from the airport are included as well.
Some kid friendly resorts (Azul for instance) have a toy "menu" where you can choose toys to have in the room for the kids. Some that are dedicated Family Resorts (think Beaches) have programs for the kids so Mom and Dad can have private times to themselves.
What is extra:
Tips for some resorts, and excursions off the resort property you may want to take. Sometimes transfers to / from the airport are extra. Some kids programs have an additional fee and babysitting when available is also extra.
Unpack, pack once. Rooms generally have nice amenities, such as jacuzzi tubs. Some resorts also have room service. Some upscale resorts have truly gourmet restaurants and a large selection of them (the larger the resort, the more restaurants they usually have).
Many have wonderful beaches and just about all have plenty of pools. Kid friendly resorts offer activities for the children (sometimes at an extra cost).
It initially seems more expensive to take an All Inclusive Vacation. But when you add in the meals and liquor that are included, you can end up savings several hundred dollars with an AI vs. A hotel only.
You may be bored just sticking to the resort property, especially if you are not a beach person (since just about every AI is on or near a beach!). Some resorts require reservations for dinner, requiring you to be at the restaurants by a certain time each day to make your reservations.
As you can see, there are good and bad about both. Which vacation is for you? Write us and let us know!