This is a "cruise addict" forum, so you may get some biased answers...
Triptakers, I haven't been to an all-inclusive and I have been on a cruise; I'd like to see some more comments from people who have done both as well.
Many of the all-inclusive resort packages include alcoholic drinks and sodas which may play into the cost comparison.
Traveling to cruise debarkation ports in New Orleans or Florida is more flexible and less expensive for us than going to an all-inclusive outside of the US; however, many of the all-inclusives packages can be arranged with a charter flight which provides air transportation from a city in the US to the location of the all-inclusive resort.
Some people do not care for a cruise because they fear they will get seasick.
One good thing about staying at one location vs a cruise ship is that a person can spend more time doing excursion type activities and can really get to know their way around the area after a couple of days.
How does the entertainment provided (if any) at all-inclusive resorts compare to that provided on cruise ships?
We stayed at sandals in Nassau for our honeymoon, all inclusive was definitly great. saved alot of money. We drank and ate so much that is was worth it. And they had water skiing and catamarans etc... that were all included. BUT- we are cruising for the first time on july 26th so I can let ya know later which was better.the Sandals trip was more expensive up front, but after we pay for alcohol and excursions on our cruise it may be pretty close to the same. we are excited about being in a different place everyday, but not so excited about having to pay for all the alcohol, so we do plan to try to smuggle some, have read some great tips on how to that here! I'll try to keep ya posted!
I have honestly never stayed at an All-Inclusive so I guess I really cannot comment. For me I can imagine that the 2 are like comparing apples to oranges. Both have pluses and minuses. For me, part of the reason I LOVE cruising, is that I LOVE the motion of the ship, being at sea. Yeah, the different ports of call are great, and I have been able to see a lot of really neat islands, nations that I would not have otherwise, but I am a sailor at heart. The open ocean calls to me...
Okay, I've done both. And I will list what I think are the main differences with both types of vacations.
1) You can get some really really good all inclusive deals, of course you can with a cruise too.
2) The main difference I think would be that once you pay for your land trip, that's it, you don't really have to spend another cent. Literally. From the time you get on the plane until you get back on the plane, if you don't leave your resort, you don't have to spend a dime. No tips, no paying for drinks and no little extras. A good all inclusive is just that, ALL INCLUSIVE. But expensive too.
3) All drinks are included on the all inclusive and not on a cruise. Now when we went on our last all inclusive, this was a big deal. We were younger (somewhere in our late 20's) and liked to drink and party, so knowing it was all included was awesome, we even drank just because we could, silly I know, but we were young. On our Carnival Miracle cruise in April, we each had 2 alcoholic drinks and not because we had to pay for them, because that isn't our focus anymore (having 5 kids in 8 years will do that to you. lol) We just wanted some R & R, good food, entertainment and warm weather. We got them all and then some on a cruise.
I think the biggest difference is buying the drinks on a cruise and not having to pay tips, but I think the overall atmosphere, food and entertainment on a cruise far outweighs an all inclusive. Especially the shows and games on a cruise. The live shows at all inclusive's are not any thing special. I've seen some fantastic cruise performances that were a great part of our vacation.
If you're young, want to drink and party and sit on a beach, go for the all inclusive, if you want your vacation to be a whole experience with food, entertainment, new ports to explore and many different excursions a cruise is for you.
Comparing both, I'm a cruiser for good now. I can go on a 7 day cruise and see 5 or 6 different countries, eat wonderful food, take in fabulous shows, sit by the pool with a band playing, go to the casino, lay on a beach, swim with dolphins, snorkel with sting rays and enjoy some of the worlds best scenery from 12 stories above the ocean on a floating resort. In my opinion there is no choice. Yes, resorts offer most of this too but not with that, all in one place, floating along the ocean feeling you get with a cruise.
So... I'll forgo all those free watered down all inclusive drinks and gladly pay for the strong cruise drinks, in the end the price is about the same and I enjoy the cruise more.
So... I'll forgo all those free watered down all inclusive drinks and gladly pay for the strong cruise drinks
I just had to comment on this line.
Hubby watched one day while the bartender made the "daily special" drink and she put in 1/2 water in it and then added the liquor etc.....He asked her why did she add so much water to the drink and she said "My drinks are the best!" LOL
So, needless to say they do water down the drinks on the Carnival Inspiration! I don't know about other ships though.
I believe that too. I guess it just depends where you are. I'm sure not all of the all inclusive water down the drinks but when we went, we drank a ton and never seemed to get drunk. I drank so many banana mamas and rum and punch that they would have to have been watered down or I would have felt it.
On the Carnival Miracle, the Ultimate Suntan daily special was soooo strong. I had a little buzz on after one and continued to finish off my hubby's they were that good. lol
As I said, it's all a matter of when and where, and really just comes down to personal choice. Ten years ago, I would not have taken a cruise because of the extra drinks and tips, now, I don't really drink anymore and gladly pay the tips for good service. I guess where you are in your life contributes to what appeals the most to you. And now that I'm past 35, cruises are where it's at for me. I LOVE them.
I like the all inclusive but overall, cruise is the best and cheaper way to go.
I also wonder about that - we took a W Caribbean cruise in March, and went to an all inclusive in Jamaica in May and once I figured in the cost of excursions and "extras", the all-inclusive was a little less - PLUS I had drinks with lunch & dinner at the all inclusive...
Well, for what it is worth, sometimes an all inclusive IS cheaper. For example, this year we took a cruise for Spring Break on the Grand Princess out of Ft. Lauderdale. The airfare from Oregon was just over $2000 for 4 people. The cruise itself was $3600 (or so) in a mini-suite. That makes it $5600 for a week for 4 of us. Our next trip is in December, the week before Christmas and we are going to the Fiesta American (all inclusive) in Cozumel. I got a deal on the American Airlines vacations site for $4000 for all 4 of us and that price includes air fare. Plus the drinks are included and I get to dive in Cozumel for Christmas.
We really liked the last cruise and will cruise again on Princess, but the price WAS higher for cruising than the all inclusive resort.
I loved the all inclusive resort I stayed at, but it was for a long weekend. And I'm sure I'll love my first 7 day cruise next week. You have to make a list of pros and cons and then determine what will work for you best. They are both very easy vacations, meaning little thought or planning is required to enjoy yourself once you arrive. Personally, I get ancy staying in one hotel for more than 4 nights. Some people may feel ancy on a boat for 7 days. If you really can't decide, then I would decide on price first, or I would try a shorter trip, like a 4 day all-inclusive or a 4 day cruise to get a feel for both vacations.
I definitely pick the all-inclusive vacation. I have been on two cruises soon to take my third. I have been to three all-inclusive resorts and think that if you can afford it do that without a doubt. I like to be submerged in a culture even if just for a week. I feel rushed on the cruise and I like to be able to explore. You really don't get a feel for a country after spending an afternoon on a catamaran off the coast of that country. If you stay at a larger AI you have several huge pools, swim up bars, walking trials, water sports, motorized water sports, and multiple resturants with no extra cost. Of coarse drinks are included as are tips so you pay more up front. The excursions cost about the same either way. I do like to cruise but I like it for the cost primarily and this way I can "preview" a country to determine if I would like to return for a longer stay. Entertainment is probably better on a cruise but the AI do have entertainment as well. I hope this helps!
Costa Rica--Blue Bay--6/99--> ALL- INCLUSIVE
St Lucia--Sandals--6/00-->ALL INCLUSIVE
Mexican Riveria--Moon Palace--10/01-->ALL INCLUSIVE
Definetly ALL-INCLUSIVE!! We just got back from our first cruise 5/9 and it was great. But in 1999 we went to St. Thomas USVI and stayed at the Wyndham Sugar Bay AI and had the time of our lives. Everything was included: food, alcohol, sodas, water, etc. We didn't have to tip. You could do as much as you want or as little as you want. We took a ferry and visited St. John, which has many different beachs to see. And you have all week to explore the island. Food is wonderful. Always waited on by the staff. A few times I was "spritzed" with water while I layed out at the pool.
On the cruise, you did get to see 3 different islands but it wasn't enough time. (Conquest-Western Caribbean-Montego Bay, Grand Cayman, Cozumel) We felt as if we were on a time schedule. A LOT of walking. We even booked the Cat 12 suite and still liked the fact that on an AI you could go sit on the beach at night. We spent a lot of money on the rooms and then spent $1500 on drinks, tours, and photos. Food was horrible
I will not do a cruise again. Although I do feel that EVERYBODY should do a CRUISE at least once in their life.
I like it both. As I'm always on the go, I find all incliusive good IF it's in a location with really nice beaches, really liked Punta Cana. Also, you don't have to get off the ship and look for places to go etc, just wake up, and head to the beach on your doorstep. And if you like excursions, you can still go get your fix at your own leisure. Most A-I has their own entertainment, free drinks, bigger beds, more comfortable showers.
meanwhile, on a cruise, you get to see different place, and to me I think that's ideal if you were on a europe cruise. The ports are usually fabulous, and you save a lot of money compared to if you were to do it on your own. You get to meet a lot more of the locals, etc, which is awesome in learning new culture, experiences,..
just my 2 cents..
We did an All-Inclusive in Cabo San Lucas and we've cruised a few times. Both requires only a flat fee, but personally we prefer cruising.
(1) You plan nothing. You simply pick and choose what you want to do from an already planned itinerary. Each day changing.
(2) You and your partner can chose to do different things but you're not far from one another. You know they're safe somewhere on the ship. You may want to relax on your balcony or near the pool while your partner's watching a movie.
(3) Most importantly the business practice. Overall crusing provides the closest business practices to American practices. You don't have to look over your shoulder and be concern with getting cheated. We experienced this at our A.I. in Cabo from the taxi drivers to our hotel clerks. But when cruising you deal with this only at ports. Sometimes we stay on board at destinations we've visited by land previously (unless there was a spot that knocked our socks off). This is when you have the ship to yourself. Best time to go to the pool. The ship still provides food and service but no entertainment while at ports. I guess we sort of use cruising like an All-Inclusive but at sea.
Vacationing at an All-Inclusive:
We liked our All-Inclusive resort, and we would choose this route for destinations a cruise ship cannot reach. The two primarily problems we found are :
(1) They're usually located near other resorts and yours may suffer from comparison. There were a few we wish we had chosen instead. On a cruise you don't visit other cruise ships.
(2) You're subjected to foreign business practices. I guess we're too Americanized but in other countries "the customer is not always correct". During your entire trip you're subjected to the customs of the trade (i.e. constant bargaining or just downright getting cheated). Which is the norm for most foreign countries.
We like to visit foreign countries to experience their culture and to see their land, but we want American business practices and cruising provides this.
I have cruised and stayed at an AI. I perfer cruises for my disability. The Ai staff would ignor me, not serve me drinks because I did not want to get drunk. I was also the last table to be served meals. I am single as well and most of these places are base for two or couples. It may have just been the week I was there but the enterainment was not good in my books. I did like the fact that everything was covered except your extra shopping and any excursion not connected to the place. All water sports that I wanted to do was covered. I think I will try Atlantis next time. Massages were not covered in the AI. Dinner times were set but you could get room serves at other times. Breakfast was from 6:30-10:00, Lunch 11:00 -2:00 Dinner 5:00-12 Midnight.
On the cruises I have taken, I'm served at the same time as everyone else and except once on Navigator I was served any drink I wanted weather it be a tea or a Bloody Mary. I liked the fact that I could go get a snack at anytime. I could see different islands from the deck of the ship. I could get help if I needed it. I had very few barriers to content with on the ship. The only thing I missed is the beach night dance we had at the AI but the midnight buffet and champangie waterfall made up for it.