Cruise vs. All-Inclusive Resort

It would be great to be able to travel year-round, but most people (like me) work normal 9 to 5 jobs and are not able to take more than one good vacation a year. That can make it really difficult to decide what to do and where to go! Two of the best-value vacations out there are a cruise and an all-inclusive resort. Both are a great time, but they are also very different types of vacations. Here’s my breakdown of pros and cons for each:

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Cruise Pros:

  • Opportunity to see many new places. Cruises easily stop at 4+ ports in a week.
  • All-you-can-eat. Eliminating the question “what do you want to eat” can go a long way in making a vacation more relaxing.
  • Lots of activities on board. There is always a lot going on a cruise ship. For people who get tired of laying out all day, this is a huge pro.
  • Kid-friendly. Cruises are great for kids. There are plenty of activities to keep them entertained, lots of food options to keep everyone content, and many cruises offer a discounted rate for kids.
  • More of a social scene. For the social butterflies of the world – you will have the chance to meet a lot of new people.
  • Good value. Cruises are typically less expensive than an all-inclusive resort.

Cruise Cons:

  • It’s crowded. There are a lot of people on a cruise. The ships are huge, but it’s hard to get a moment alone unless you escape to your room. Because of that, it’s not quite as relaxing.
  • Time at ports is limited. This is the flip side of getting to go to so many places. You normally will not get to experience a whole day in the country you port in.
  • Alcohol is not included. While cruises are all-you-can-eat, they aren’t really all-inclusive. Alcohol is an additional expense, and alcoholic beverages on cruises are not cheap.
  • Small, unimpressive rooms. If you want a nice room on a cruise, or even a window in your room, they do have some options for that, but you should be prepared to shell out more money for it.
  • Other expenses add up. There are a lot of activities on a cruise, but not all of them are free. Depending on your alcohol consumption, how much time you like to spend in the spa and/or casino, and how much you spend at the ports, the cost of your vacation can rapidly increase.

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All-inclusive Resort Pros:

  • Very relaxing. Once you are there, everything is taken care of. There is plenty of room to relax at the pool and on the beach without having to fight for a chair.
  • Opportunity to explore and experience more of the country you are visiting. If you choose to visit a resort for a week, that is a whole week that you can use to sightsee the area you are visiting.
  • Truly all-inclusive. There are no extra expenses at an all-inclusive resort once you’re there. All food and alcohol are normally included for your entire stay.
  • More intimate. At a resort, there’s no need to worry about waking up early to secure your spot next to the pool or eating dinner with strangers. If you are looking to do your own thing, you can.
  • Nicer, larger rooms. The rooms at resorts are hands-down far nicer than rooms on cruise ships.
  • Options for adult-only resorts. There are a lot of all-inclusive resorts that are adult-only. This is a nice option for those of us who prefer to vacation without any kids.

All-inclusive Resort Cons:

  • Not necessarily an “authentic” experience. The opportunity to explore more of the country you are visiting is there, but most of the time you have to leave the resort to do that.
  • Typically more expensive than a cruise. Vacations to an all-inclusive resort are usually more expensive than cruise vacations, especially when you take flights into account.
  • Other expenses can add up. Just like a cruise, there are a lot of opportunities to spend more money at an all-inclusive resort, including spa visits and excursions.

So which should you choose for your vacation, a cruise or an all-inclusive resort? When it comes down to it, if you are looking for a more relaxing trip, I’d say an all inclusive resort is the way to go. If you’re looking for a more active trip, or you are itching to experience a lot of new things in a short amount of time, a cruise is the best option for you.

If I had all the time in the world, I would almost always choose a resort over a cruise. Like most people, I only have about two weeks I can take off of work during the year, so resort hopping is not an option, and a cruise is a great way for me to experience things on my bucket list that I might otherwise not have the money or time for. Either way, it’s a vacation, so there’s really no wrong decision!

What do y’all think? Would you rather go on a cruise or vacation at an all-inclusive resort?

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4 thoughts on “Cruise vs. All-Inclusive Resort

  1. It’s so hard to choose between the two, it sucks that cruises advertise all inclusive then you’re hit with all these additional fees on board. It really depends on what I want at the time…

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  2. As you mentioned, both have great positives! Hmmm…. if I had to choose today, I think I would pick an all-inclusive. But, that’s just because I went on a cruise and looking to shake things up 🙂

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