You’ve worked hard all year and now it’s time to plan your perfect vacation getaway. You’ll likely want to take a trip somewhere warm, tropical, and with plenty of sun and water. So which option is better, a cruise or all-inclusive resort? Both are great ways to vacation, largely because you have food and drinks included in the pricing. But is one better than the other? Before you go packing your bags with resort wear and designer swimwear, let’s take a look at some of their differences.
Booking a Cruise
When deciding whether to go on a cruise, it’s really about your own vacationing style. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, sticking with the complimentary activities that the cruise provides will keep your costs down. If you don’t mind paying for extras, you can find a luxury cruise that will make sure your vacation is extravagant.
When paying your cruise fare, inclusive can mean different things depending on the cruise lines. Typically, you will find that:
Meals are included
Non-alcoholic beverages are included
Multiple location port stops are included
Certain activities may be included, depending on your cruise package
However, you may find yourself paying extra for the following amenities:
Certain activities and excursions
Tips for your wait staff
Additionally, shore excursions, commemorative photos, souvenirs, fitness classes, and spa treatments are all considered “extras.”
Things to Consider
It’s important to research your cruise destination far before you travel, talk with the cruise line, and determine exactly what your cruise package does and does not cover. It’s painful to go on a cruise and have a wonderful time, thinking everything was paid for, only to end up paying an exorbitant amount of gratuities at the end of the line that you didn’t realize weren’t covered.
Something else to keep in mind when booking a cruise is that accommodations can be small. Some staterooms may be larger than others, but overall, you’re staying in the belly of a ship. It’s not particularly roomy unless you pay more for a premium room. This can be an important factor if you’re planning a family vacation. It matters a little less if you’re traveling solo or as a couple.
One of the best things about going on a cruise is that you’re constantly moving. That means that you can go on a month-long excursion if you want and hit multiple destinations along the way. Not to mention, ships do their best to avoid bad weather, so that your vacation time is all smooth sailing. You won’t have to worry about your favorite designer bikinis going to waste with a cruise vacation. Being out on the sea gives you the luxury of tanning whenever you walk out on the pool deck.
Cruise Ship Activities
Cruise ships have a huge variety of activities for passengers to engage in as well. We’re talking about everything from mini-golf to water parks, to outdoor movies poolside and zip lining. Larger cruise lines with bigger ships will have more of a variety of activities, whereas smaller ships will be more limited. A few of the activities that cruises offer are:
Surf and skydiving simulators
Vegas-style shows and Broadway musicals
Comedy and magic acts
Trivia and bingo games
Packing for a Cruise
Depending on your destination, your packing list might vary. However, when figuring out what to pack for a cruise, some items to include may be:
Boutique swimwear, such as one-piece swimsuits or bikini tops and matching bikini bottoms
Daywear, like shorts, tops, beach cover-ups, and beach sandals
Nightwear, typically resort casual with a light jacket or sweater for chilly evenings
Toiletries because it can be hard to find your favorite items onboard
Rain gear for destinations that are wet and rainy
Going on a cruise is excellent for people that are highly social and enjoy the company of strangers. Everyone is everyone’s friend on a cruise ship, and you will meet people from all around the world. It’s a great chance to make new friends and expand your horizons on how people in other countries may live.
Booking an All-Inclusive Resort
If you want all the benefits of a cruise and very little of the drawbacks (seasickness anyone?), an all-inclusive resort is the way to go when planning your next summer vacation.
With all-inclusive resorts, what you see is what you get, there aren’t many exclusions except for paying your own gratuities and buying your own souvenirs. For the most part, things like meals and drinks, pool and beach access, indoor and outdoor activities, kids programs, and more all come included in special rate, all-inclusive packages. If you’re unsure about something and whether it’s included, just ask ahead of time.
Of course, there are always things you still may pay extra for, that are fairly universal. These typically include:
Specialty meals and meal upgrades
Other purchases, either on the property or off
All-inclusive resorts often have more special events than a cruise ship might have, and they are usually covered in your package price. Resorts are much roomier as well, giving you plenty of space to truly unwind and relax.
If safety is a big concern for you or you prefer a little less adventure, an all-inclusive resort tends to be much safer and more relaxing than certain popular cruise destinations. There is a lot more freedom during a stay at an all-inclusive resort. On a cruise, everything is very structured, including mealtimes. You also have to pay attention to the clock for arrival and departure times when you go off-shore, which can be a little stressful for some. However, with an all-inclusive resort vacation, you get to do what you want, when you want whether that’s dining by the beach, getting spa treatments at the resort, or laying by the pool.
You don’t have to rush anywhere, and many resorts don’t mind if you spend the whole day in swimwear. A cruise ship, on the other hand, may require you to wear some kind of clothing or coverup to dine and participate in activities.
While some all-inclusive resorts may have shows and things for entertainment, more often than not most of the nightlife centers around dancing and drinking. If you’re ready for fun nightlife at the resort, toss on one of your favorite resort dresses and a pair of wedges and dance the night away.
Packing for an All-Inclusive Resort
Your packing list for a resort is much like packing for a cruise. It depends on your destination, but often resorts are located in places with lots of sun and tropical weather. You’ll need items like:Toiletries you can’t live without
A few nice resort outfits for evenings exploring the locale
Several outfits for daytime excursions including shorts, tees, and pants if you plan to hike
Sturdy walking and/or hiking shoes, plus flip flops and evening flats
A few swimsuits because you will probably be in and out of water frequently
Beach and pool cover-ups, plus a light sweater or jacket for cooler evenings
Overall, Cruise vs All-Inclusive Resort: Which is Better?
If you:Enjoy Broadway, comedy, and theatrical shows
Want lots of structure and organized activities
Are taking all the kids and want to keep them busy
Don’t plan on spending much on “extras”
Enjoy gambling (very few resorts have casinos on-site)
Aren’t very mobile and want all activities close by
Cruising on the sea is your style.
If you:Like your freedom to wander
Like to hit the beach at sunrise and sunset
Plan on doing lots of water activities
Prefer a more laid-back, beat-to-your-own drum schedule
Prefer to stay bikini-clad the whole day
Want to enjoy delicious food and drink at your leisure
A resort vacation is calling your name.
It can be difficult to compare a cruise vs an all-inclusive resort, side-by-side. Though there are some similarities, for the most part, they are each very different, with their own pros and cons. Either option you choose will likely be a fun trip filled with beautiful, warm weather perfect for tanning in the sun in your favorite bikini.