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Cruise vs All Inclusive



Hi everyone
Would like to ask everyone's opinion. We have been on 5 cruises and looking to try something new. Thinking about an all -inclusive. Looking at the web, interested in Beaches Negril or Club Med Punta Cana. I have 2 kids: 18 and 12.
- Has anyone been on both a cruise and an all inclusive and need your opinion on both (value, fun...)
- Have you been to either all inclusive I listed and wondering what you think ?
- At the all inclusives, is there enough fun activities for my kids ages ? (are there alot of teens or do these all inclusive have mostly younger kids (Like 5-10 ?)
- Any other suggestions for an all inclusive location ?
Many thanks Don

Teresa B

I've done both and prefer cruising. Did an all inclusive in Cancun last Feb. Had a great time and there was a ton of stuff to do at the hotel and in town. I just like being on the ship and not having to worry about anything. Also like that you get to go to several different cities instead of staying in only one all the time. Both are great vacations, I just prefer cruising.


go to "tripadvisor.com" for independent reviews of almost any place in the world.


I think it also depends on what ships you go on. I think your kids would have way more fun on RCCL than say Celebrity. JMO though :eek:)


Unless you drink gallons of alcohol, an all inclusive will ALWAYS be cheaper than a cruise.

to each hi sown, but I would be bored quicker at an all-inclusive since it is only one location.


This may be a little late, but perhaps it will help someone else who has the same question....

As several other people have already mentioned, the decision of whether to go on an all-inclusive resort-type vacation or on a cruise comes down to personal preferences. The main question to ask yourself is "What do I like and how much of a priority is it?" Granted, I think that is a hard question to answer unless you have done both. My husband and I have done both within the past 2 years (2 all-inclusive trips and a cruise on Carnival Inspiration where we visited Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Cozumel, and Belize).

In our collective opinion, and this is JUST OUR OPINION - which really means nothing in the grand scheme of things, we like the all-inclusive option best. It's not that we dislike cruising, for we enjoyed our cruise very much, it is that the all-inclusive option is our preference if given the choice.

At the 2 resorts we have stayed at (Cancun and Puerto Vallarta), everything was paid for up front - all meals, sodas, alcoholic drinks, and basic watersports. At our resort in Cancun (Moon Palace), our plan also included unlimited excusions/tours and unlimited access to their golf course. **Not all resorts offer excursions in their all-inclusive plan, our resort in PV did not. You will have to check on the specifics of the resort you are looking at.** On the cruise, we had to purchase a "soft drink card" so that we could get our morning caffeine fix (we are not coffee drinkers) and we had to pay for each and every alcoholic drink we had. Granted, we are not big drinkers, but 1-2 drinks per day over 7 days does add up... We met one couple who brought some sodas, vodka, and rum along in their luggage, but that just seemed like too much of a hassle for my husband and I. (But hey! To each his own, right?) The mainstream cruise lines, boast that cruises are "cashless vacations," and in one sense they are. In order to purchase drinks and other services on a cruise, you don't have to carry any cash, however that doesn't mean it's included in what you have already paid. Carnival has a "Sail and Sign" card that you present whenever you buy something and before you get off the ship upon returning to port, you must settle up on what you have "charged" during the week. I am not sure how other cruise ships are about paying for drinks and suck. My husband and I were very conscientious about what we "signed for" on the cruise and this allowed us to stay within a budget. We didn't book our shore excursions through Carnival either, we booked through private tour operators online before our cruise and that helped cut down the cost as well. One couple who dined with us every evening, however, were not as conscientious and they were quite shocked when their bill arrived. They couldn't believe how quickly the sodas, cocktails, and shore excusions added up.

Spa services at most resorts are not included. That is one thing that all-inclusive resorts and cruises have in common.

Another feature we like about the all-inclusive resort vacation is the ability to stay at one location longer than one day. My husband and enjoy exploring a location in-depth and submerging ourselves in the culture. During our cruise last summer, we felt that we were not given enough time to do this at 2 of our ports of call (Grand Cayman and Belize). We realize, however, that this is an appealing feature to many folks - the opportunity to visit several different locations during a short period of time and only having to unpack once.

A definite PRO for a cruise is that it would allow you to "sample" a destination before committing to spending a week there. Even though we felt like we didn't have enough time to explore Grand Cayman and Belize, it did give us the opportunity to sample them and determine if we would like to go back one day and spend several days there. (Yes, we would like to go back to Grand Cayman and spend several days. We would not want to spend more than a day in Belize City. However, we would be interested in staying at a resort on one of the cayes.)

So, what it all comes down to is personal preference. If you like being able to visit several places during a week's time - then cruising is probably the way to go. If you would rather spend some time really getting to know a particular place and culture, then I wouldn't recommend a cruise. (There are some exceptions, however, like a cruises that stay in one general area like Hawaii, etc). If you are operating within a budget and want to know that there will be few (if any, depending on the resort) additional expenses, then I would recommend an all-inclusive resort. If you don't mind "charging" things and having to pay for things like drinks, then a cruise would probably work for you.

Each option will provide you with unique experiences no matter what. Even though my husband and I prefer the all-inclusive resort option, I'm sure that we will go on another cruise one day (Hawaii, South Pacific, Mediterranean perhaps).

Either way... have a great journey!


well, you have to thoroughly research your all inclusive, we've just debated the same thing for thanksgiving. You need to compare amenities, especially the amount of restaurant choices and thier times of service. In addition, the night life that matches your personality. We're night clubbers. So to have a comparable all inclusive to the large ships ie, voyager, conquest, golden..... you will need at least one buffet restaurant, two sit downs, plus several night clubs which do include the all inclusive drinks. This for us equals a 4 star ship for a 4 plus star all inclusive.

Yes, you can do all inclusive cheaper... it might be all buffet, with limited hours of dinning anda very limited menu, with domestic drinks and one night club.... this would equal a 2 and 1/2 star ship... which is so low it's almost impossible to find. We inventory our cruises, how much for air, cruise, alcohol, excursions, transfers and tips and do the comparison of not just the $$$, but what is offered for each for the total $$$ spent.

for us, we decided that although we drink quite a bit of alcohol, the cruise was our best vacation $$, as we're cruising again with our son, who's safelty is secure on the boat.... no transports to another area of the facility for kids clubs.... on and on. doesn't mean this will meet your needs, but consider the true options of dinning to night life... plus daytime activities... ship to shore. It costs quite a bit about $1500 pp for an all inclusive, which does not give you the optimal room with an ocean view suite, to compare to a cruise. IMHO.

each vacay, we do the same search.... choose to cruise, and pay a tad more to cruise to have the safety of the ship, the different itinerarys and the luxury... to each his own. If we weren't taking our son, we might give an all inclusive a try, although 12, you can't wander off a boat. this to me is priceless.


Real interesting question. My family and I have done both. Each has its good points. We've been to the Wyndham Viva Azteca in Playa del Carmen, Mexico twice and loved it. We cruised the Mediterranean on Celebrity's Galaxy last year and we're going to the Carribean on RCCL's Navigator of the Seas in a few weeks. We travel with another family, very good friends, so it's always a group of at least seven to eleven (depending on who all comes along).

The all-inclusive is cheaper (although there's a price range among these, too, so we could have spent more) and it was located in an interesting area of Mexico so we did a few day-trips to see the sights and it's very convenient. Overall it's less complicated and as long as the all-inclusive you go to has plenty to do, you will have a good time. We found it very relaxing, not particularly challenging, and a terrific, low-key time.

Cruises are more complicated and more overwhelming. You see more, and there is more change because you are constantly going to different ports. In some ways it's far more entertaining because the ships themselves are amazing and a lot of fun, and when you add in the built-in travel, I can't see how you could ever get bored. It's more of a challenge, perhaps a bit more rewarding, probably more expensive, but very well worth it. We loved it, and that's why we're going again this summer.

On the other hand, we're also planning on going back to Viva Azteca, too, and we're taking the grandparents along so it'll be a big multi-family group (which we understand may not be your thing!).

So, though I don't want to sound wishy-washy, each can be a terrific vacation, depending on what you want. Try both! We hope you have as great a time at each as we've had.