Local lifestyle columnists

Which is best: All-inclusive resorts or cruises?

By From page B5 | August 02, 2014

When it comes to vacations there are a lot of options. Among the most popular these days are cruises and all-inclusive resorts. But which is best suited for you?

First, determine if you like being in one spot your entire vacation or rather visit multiple destinations. If it is one spot, then the all-inclusive may be your choice. However, I sail sometimes and never get off the ship.

Normally, all-inclusive resorts rates include more amenities than the contemporary cruise line rates. Your room, meals, all drinks, day and evening activities, classes, kids programs and nonmotorized sports are included in your fare. Contemporary cruise line will have you ponying up for drinks and shore excursions, which can be a big surprise if not planned into your budget. However, luxury cruises often include shore excursions, all drinks and travelers only pay for spa services. So when determining the better value, make sure you are comparing a moderately priced land vacation with a moderately priced cruise vacation; or luxury with luxury.

Consider the location of the all-inclusive resort. Often they aren’t located in or near a town center. So if you wish to leave the property for a look around the area on your own or take a sightseeing trip, this will cost you extra.

In considering their pricing, all-inclusive resorts assume guests will consume a good amount of alcohol during their stay. If you aren’t much of a drinker or have dietary restrictions, you may be overpaying.

According to the travel organization Cruise Critic, pick the cruise if you don’t spend a lot on shore excursions, spa treatments and specialty dinners. If you want the beach at your front door, to eat and drink as much as possible without worrying how big a bill you will rack up and you are planning to take advantage of water sports and free activities, then choose the all-inclusive resort.

Evening entertainment may be important to you. Generally, cruises have a better variety and caliber of entertainment (such as Broadway productions, comedians, etc.), while all-inclusive resorts tend to be more low-key and present local entertainers.

Lastly, evaluate the cost of getting to the all-inclusive resort versus a cruise port. Airfare is usually higher to international destinations, where 99 percent of the all-inclusive resorts are located, than to a domestic cruise port.

If you are still uncertain which is best for you, talk to friends but, most importantly, consult a travel professional. They will be happy to make comparisons to ensure you get the most value for your dollar. Whichever you choose, enjoy it to the fullest.

Happy travels.

Rose Alston is a certified travel and master cruise counselor. She operates a business in Fairfield and can be reached at [email protected]

Rose Alston


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