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When choosing between taking a cruise and visiting an all-inclusive resort, these are a few things to keep in mind.
It’s important to remember that despite including means and accommodations, cruises aren’t all-inclusive. Unless you’re traveling with a luxury cruise line, soda, alcohol, snacks, dining in a la carte restaurants, and many of the other activities are an additional cost. However, these things are standard parts of an all-inclusive resort stay. One of the main selling points of an all-inclusive resort is being able to indulge in a variety of cuisines and cocktails without having to worry about the cost.
The cost of a cruise may look like a deal at first, but you’ll most likely be making a lot of onboard purchases that will make your final bill much higher. If you don’t plan to spend extra on shore excursions, spa treatments or specialty dining, a cruise may cost less, but you’ll be stuck on the boat with not much to do and without much of a view.
Although most excursions and spa treatments are going to cost you extra at a resort just as they would on a cruise, there are plenty of activities like snorkeling and kayaking that are included in the “all-inclusive” part of your resort stay. Not only will you have more options, you’ll have more time. Since you’re not moving from port to port, you can decide what you want to do when you want to do it, without worrying about when you have to be back on the ship. Schedule an early tee time; linger at the local craft market; put off your tour of Tulum until tomorrow if you’re just too comfortable on your beach bed today.
Where all-inclusives really have a leg up on cruise ships is the atmosphere and scenery, two things that we think are essential for a truly relaxing vacation. Even the most basic resort room is going to be bigger than a cruise ship cabin, and most likely have a better view. And forget about swim-up suites or in-room Jacuzzis onboard. If all the lounge chairs by the pool are full, you can just find a spot on the beach—if you’re on land. Nothing tells your body you’re on vacation like sand between your toes, whether it’s a morning run on the beach or a romantic walk at sunset.
Think of cruises as a sampler plate and all-inclusive resorts as the main dish. If you’ve never been to the Caribbean and want to check out several different places to see which ones you like best, it may be worth it to take a cruise. But once you’ve figured out what kind of vibe you’re looking for and really want to relax, an all-inclusive resort will probably be the better bet.