Cruising vs All-Inclusive Resorts: Which is Better?

Choosing between a cruise and an all-inclusive resort for your next vacation can be a tough decision.

Don’t panic! We offer the definitive guide to make sure you get out there and enjoy your dream trip, however you choose.

Cruise the seas with the wind in your hair or kick back on a beachfront resort – whichever floats your boat, we want to help you weigh the pros and cons of both.

So grab a cocktail and snuggle in; let’s find out what these vacations have in store.

Pros & Cons of All-Inclusive vs Cruise

Cruises are a popular choice for those who want to see multiple destinations in one trip, with activities both on-board and off-board.

Imagine it: waking up in your cozy cabin each morning with views of the wide open sea, mingling with new friends poolside, or exploring unknown ports at each stop – a true dream vacation.

Whether it’s fun and games, dancing around the clock at night or taking part in unique cultural tours, there are countless perks and never a dull moment on a cruise ship.

What Are the Benefits of a Cruise?

Cruises are a popular choice for those who want to see multiple destinations in one trip, with activities both on-board and off-board.

Imagine it: waking up in your cozy cabin each morning with views of the wide open sea, mingling with new friends poolside, or exploring unknown ports at each stop – a true dream vacation.

Whether it’s fun and games, dancing around the clock at night or taking part in unique cultural tours, there are countless perks and never a dull moment on a cruise ship.

Ruby Princess Cruise Ship Pool Deck
Ruby Princess Cruise Ship Pool Deck

What Are the Benefits of an All-Inclusive?

On the other hand, all-inclusive resorts offer a more laid-back vacation experience with everything you need in one place.

You know exactly what’s included and don’t have to worry about penny-pinching throughout your travels as food, drink, activities and more come at one flat rate.

Plus, it’s easier to stay on budget for those travelers that are trying to save a dime or two!

From relaxing on the beach to enjoying unlimited food and drinks, resorts provide a stress-free getaway.

If you’re still on the fence, check out our guide on determining if an all-inclusive resort is right for you.

Cost

Cost of Taking a Cruise

Taking a cruise often conjures images of unlimited fun and relaxation, but don’t forget about the cost!

Sure, the base fare usually won’t break the bank when compared to other vacations, but those extra fees can add up quickly if you’re not careful.

Whether you’re looking to book a balcony suite or a budget-friendly inside stateroom, it’s worth having an eye out for discounts before committing to your next cruise.

Just remember to set aside some extra spending money for gratuities and taxes that probably weren’t listed in the initial price quote.

Shopping around for deals that include freebies like a drinks package may be your best bet to save a few bucks.

All this financial strategizing may seem overwhelming at first, but with a little care, you’ll be on your way to an amazing vacation without blowing all your dough.

Another factor to consider is the time of year you plan to cruise. Peak-season cruises, such as during school holidays, can be more expensive.

If you have flexibility in your travel dates, you may be able to find better deals during the off-peak season.

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Cost of Staying at an All-Inclusive Resort

All-inclusive resorts typically have a higher initial price tag than cruises, but they include most amenities in the upfront cost.

This means you won’t have to worry about additional expenses for food, drinks, or activities during your stay.

However, keep in mind that some resorts may charge extra for premium amenities like spa treatments or off-site excursions.

Similar to cruising, the time of year you plan to visit can affect the cost of your stay.

If you want to be extra savvy, make sure you check out our ultimate guide to the best tips and hacks for staying at an all-inclusive.

Accommodations

Cruise Staterooms

Cruise staterooms offer a unique combination of cozy living quarters and all the amenities you need for your voyage at sea.

You’ll find a variety of options ranging from small interior cabins to luxurious suites with balconies.

Interior cabins are usually the most affordable option, while suites with balconies can be quite expensive.

The size and layout of the cabin can vary depending on the cruise line and ship, however, most cabins are designed to maximize space and comfort for the passengers.

These cabins come complete with high-quality bedding, flat-screen TVs and generous nooks to store your luggage.

Book a statement far away from all the treadmills and pool noise on the upper decks; make sure the room is surrounded by other suites on all sides.

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All-Inclusive Resort Rooms

So, what should you expect when staying in an all-inclusive resort? Think along the lines of extravagance at its finest!

Resort rooms tend to be more spacious than cruise ship cabins, and your room will undoubtedly have modern amenities that pamper you into ultimate relaxation.

Everything from fresh linens and furnishings fit for royalty make these places luxurious gems, and many all-inclusive resorts are on the waterfront.

Rooms with ocean views or beachfront access are usually more expensive than rooms that face the garden or pool area.

To get an idea, we have complete guides on the best all-inclusive resorts in Cancun and the Bahamas.

Activities & Amenities

Cruise Activities

Cruise ships are like floating amusement parks, with endless activities and amenities to keep passengers entertained.

You’ll find plenty of options for lounging around, like multiple pools, hot tubs, and water slides – if you’re feeling adventurous, check out the rock climbing walls and mini-golf courses too!

Got a need for speed? Sign up for a round of go-karts aboard a Royal Caribbean ship.

Most cruise ships also have jogging tracks and sports courts so you can stay fit and active.

For the ultimate relaxation experience, pamper yourself at one of the many onboard spas or salons.

The entertainment doesn’t stop when the sun goes down either – there’ll be something for everyone, from Broadway-style shows to comedy clubs to movie theaters and casinos.

Pool Activities at All inclusive resort
Pool Activities at All inclusive resort

All-Inclusive Resort Activities

All-inclusive resorts are the perfect place for a vacation where you can do it all!

From morning to night, these resorts offer plenty of activities and features that make for an unforgettable stay.

Get a little splashy with multiple pools – infinity style or even swim-up bars – or take a dip at the private beach.

Keep active with on-site fitness centers, yoga classes, sports courts and don’t forget the spas and wellness centers for a bit of relaxation.

And when the sun goes down, there’s no shortage of entertainment either.

Live music performances, themed parties and fire shows will be sure to keep everyone busy until it’s time to hit the nightclubs. Talk about having it all!

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Dining Options

When it comes to dining options, both cruising and all-inclusive resorts offer a wide range of choices.

Let’s take a closer look at what each option has to offer.

Food & Drinks on a Cruise

Cruise ships are the ultimate dream for foodies, offering seemingly endless dining options, from casual buffets to elegant formal dining rooms.

Food is typically included in your base cruise fare, and there are small upcharges if you want to order a specific dish (for example, lobster).

You’ll often find that most cruise ships offer a main dining room where you can enjoy a multi-course meal in an elegant atmosphere.

In addition, many cruise ships have specialty restaurants (for a surcharge) that offer a more intimate dining experience with unique menus and wine lists.

But if that’s not your style and you rather enjoy something more low-key, there’s no need to worry – casual buffets, pizzerias and cafes are ready to please those in need of a quick bite.

For some passengers, stuffing their faces will be an adventure all on its own!

As for drinks, don’t forget the old saying, “nothing in life is free”. At first, you may think you’ve got a great deal lined up, with all meals included.

But if you’ve been dreaming of luxuriating poolside with a pina colada in hand, don’t get too ahead of yourself – that sugary cocktail will set you back extra cash.

Expect to pay approximately $7-10 for an alcoholic drink, $2-3 for a soda, and about $4-5 for a coffee drink.

If you love guzzling down the drinks, consider purchasing a drinks package to alleviate some of the cost.

It generally costs about $60 per day per person but in our opinion, it’s worth it, as it includes many other perks such as wifi, and crew appreciation (gratuities).

Restaurant at all inclusive resort in Mexico
Restaurant at all inclusive resort in Mexico

Food & Drinks at All-Inclusive Resorts

All-inclusive resorts truly offer something for everyone when it comes to dining and drinks; it’s all included in the price of the stay!

When you go on holiday to an all-inclusive resort, it’s like a buffet of culinary delights.

You’d be wise to set your expectations appropriately because you’ll find yourself trying all sorts of exciting dishes and drinks.

Forget grabbing a quick bite to eat – these resorts are the ultimate foodie’s paradise.

From local delicacies to more traditional cuisine, there’s something for everyone, no matter what your taste buds desire!

And when it comes to drinks, you’ll be equally pleased; there’s often an endless array of options waiting for you.

Travel Destinations

Cruise Destinations

One of the biggest advantages of cruising is the ability to visit multiple destinations in one trip.
Cruises can take you to exotic locations such as the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Alaska, and more.

Each destination has its own unique attractions and sights to see, and cruising allows you to experience them all in one trip!

Some popular cruise destinations include: The Caribbean, Mediterranean, Alaska, Hawaii, and the Bahamas.

Cruise lines also offer shore excursions that allow you to explore each destination in more detail.

These excursions can range from city tours to outdoor adventures such as hiking, snorkeling, and zip-lining. Some cruise lines even have their own private island!

Tip: Booking excursions directly with the cruise line guarantees that they won’t leave you behind if your tour is running late.

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All-Inclusive Resort Destinations

Who needs all this planning and decision-making on vacay? All-inclusive resorts take the guesswork out of your getaway with everything included in a single price.

Trade in all the hassle for vacation-mode chill; some of the hot all-inclusive spots include Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica and Jamaica.

You won’t be short on things to do either – think swimming, snorkeling and spa treatments.

Plus, many resorts offer day trips to explore the local sights – if culture’s more your thing.

Wherever you go, make sure you pack some sunscreen and a pair of flip-flops! Now if only life were this relaxing all year round…