2012 was a lucky year for my hubby and me, as we got to get away as a couple on two amazing vacations. We started the year off with a Caribbean cruise in January and ended it off with an all-inclusive resort in Cancun in November, and both trips were fabulous. In addition to being a lot of fun, they provided me a good chance to compare the two vacation types which I have often debated about in the past. Here is my comparison of both price and experience.
Price: In general, an all-inclusive vacation is more expensive than a cruise. The cost of our cruise was $600 per person for 5 days while the all inclusive was $1175 per person for 5 days. Those fees do not include our airfare or any extras like excursions. We did spend less out of pocket at the all-inclusive because we spent almost all our time on the property whereas on the cruise we did excursions at each of our ship’s destinations. Excursions are not cheap and you should factor them in to your price comparison.
Of course, prices can vary depending on the time of year that you travel, the deals that are going on, and the type of room that you select. The cruise line we used was Royal Caribbean and there we stayed in a balcony suite. The resort was Excellence Playa Mujeres and we stayed in their standard ocean view room, but upgraded to the excellence club. I feel like they are very comparable trips.
Most all-inclusive resorts do include alcohol while cruises do not, so you may need to factor that in to your price equation. Tipping is also an added charge at both vacation types- though I spent more tipping on the cruise than at the resort due to the way in which tips were collected. At the resort you tipped here and there as you saw fit, while on the cruise, you are given a tipping envelope and form to fill out at the conclusion of your trip.
Experience: An all-inclusive resort is very relaxing. They want you to feel pampered and they try to create a spa like atmosphere. If your idea of vacationing is relaxing all day at the pool or the beach, or in the privacy of a luxurious and spacious room then an all-inclusive is what you want. Resorts are more picturesque and give you space to spread out. You shouldn’t have to stand in line or feel crowded at an all-inclusive resort. Both experiences provide nightly entertainment and a variety of dining options. If you are one of those lucky people that struggles with motion sickness, you won’t get seasick in your room at a resort, while you may need to pack some anti-nausea meds for a cruise.
Cruises, on the other hand, provide more adventure if you like a more active vacation. I felt like a cruise fosters more of a party atmosphere. Obviously cruises enable you to see more places but for shorter durations of time. You can get a taste of a particular island on a cruise, but at a resort you can really explore your location in depth without worrying about missing the boat. I think you could possibly run the risk of being bored at a resort, while on a cruise that would be harder to do- even on “at sea” days. Being on the ocean gives cruising a certain enchantment but with that comes worry and risk. We all watched the Costa Concordia disaster and I certainly wont cruise again without that worry in my mind. Of course being anywhere tropical, you could deal with hurricanes, earthquakes or tsunamis so there really is no completely safe vacation.
And if you are still not sure which vacation is right for you, don’t worry, you can’t go wrong either way.