Updated: Jun 12
Have you been on a cruise but not to an all inclusive resort? Or maybe you've been to an all inclusive resort but have not cruised. You might wonder what's the differences between all inclusive resorts vs cruises.
Below you will learn more about all inclusive resorts vs cruises and how they differ. You'll also find out why you might want to choose one over the other.
Here are a few things that differentiate all inclusive resorts vs cruises.
All inclusive resorts include alcohol while cruises offer drink packages which are additional to your cruise fare. If you enjoy drinking, you may like an all inclusive resort more. All inclusive resorts also have a stocked mini bar as well as unlimited bottled water. All of these things you pay extra for on a cruise ship.
You may be able to drive to the cruise port depending on where you live. You will need to fly to an all inclusive resort as there are no true all inclusive resorts in the U.S.A.
Wifi is free at all inclusive resorts. On most cruises you will need to pay extra for the wifi.
While you may pay the same price per night/per person for an all inclusive resort that you would for a cruise, everything else at an all inclusive is included! Yes you heard that right! You do not have to pay for speciality dining like a cruise ship and your drinks are included!! These costs on a cruise ship can often cost $250+ per person depending on what drink package you buy and if you enjoy eating at specialty restaurants. Most all inclusive resorts have an Asian restaurant, a Steak House, an Italian restaurant, a French restaurant, and a buffet! They also have a beach side grill during the day.
Another thing that is included at the all inclusive resort is gratuities. If you haven't cruised before, gratuities often cost $10-15 per person/per day on a cruise ship. They are included at an all inclusive resort, and people often tip their servers, bartenders and house keeping staff if they want to.
The all inclusive resort also had a stocked mini bar that was included as well as unlimited bottled water. All of these things you pay extra for on a cruise ship.
Cruise lines add daily tips to the end of your bill at the end of your cruise. These gratuities are per person/per night and are based on your room category. All inclusive packages include gratuities into the package rate. Most resorts enjoy additional gratuities but some resorts like Sandals will not accept gratuities.
Time to Relax
Most cruisers enjoy getting up early to watch the ship arrive in port, and are often first to get off the ship so they can explore the island or port during the limited time in port. After a day on the island, you'll find yourself not wanting to leave the beautiful beach or port but you'll have to head back to the ship before it departs at the end of the day. You can end the day watching the sunset from the cruise ship, saying goodbye to the port then showering before heading off to my dinner reservation.
At an all inclusive resort you can relax without any time constraints. You're able to wake up early if you want or sleep in. You can enjoy a lazy morning or grab a coffee and walk on the beach. You can then head to the beach for the day and spend your day there until the sun goes down and you're getting kicked out of the beach area! It can be nice to have no where to be but sign up for excursions if you get bored. You also don't need to rush to dinner in the evenings as RSVP's are often not required and you can eat at the buffet or restaurants anytime you want.
Cruises allow you to explore lots of different destinations in a short amount of time. Cruises can be a great way to explore the world! When you stay at an all inclusive resort, you'll stay in one location, which can sometimes be more relaxing than being in a different location each day.
Both cruises and all inclusive resorts allow you to book excursions and explore for the day. The best part about an all-inclusive resort is you don't need to worry about missing your cruise ship at the end of the day!
If you like to gamble, cruise ships are known for their casinos! Most all inclusive resorts don't have casinos and if they do they're pretty small. A popular all inclusive option for a casino is the Hard Rock Resort & Casino in Punta Cana. It's like a cruise ship on land.
Cruises can be more crowded than all inclusive resorts. Most cruises have 2000-4000 passengers while inclusive resorts will have under 1000 guests.
Adult Only Options
All inclusive resorts have lots of adult only options while most cruise ships are family friendly. Cruise ships sometimes have an adult only pool/section but for the most part they are family friendly. The new cruise line Virgin Voyages offers adult only cruising which is super exciting for adults wanting to experience an adult only vacation. Some resorts even have two resorts on one property, one that is family friendly and one that is adult only, so you can hang out with your family during the day, but still escape to an adult only resort for some quiet, or to enjoy a pool without children in it.
Don't worry families, there's lots of all inclusive resorts out there as well for families and cruises allow all ages with lots of programs available for kids.
Cruises to have more variety. Many cruise ships offer amazing amenities like zip lines, bumper cars and waterslides. They also have great entertainment including: Broadway-style shows, white parties, karaoke and more. All-inclusive resorts usually have a show in the evenings as well as dancing.
The rooms at all inclusive resorts are usually double the size or more than the cruise ship rooms. The bathrooms are very spacious and there's even opportunity for swim out and beach front rooms. If you haven't cruised before, you probably don't know that rooms on cruise ships start at 150 sq. feet. The bathrooms are often so tiny that you can barely turn around in the shower. If you want to pay more for a suite, you can get a larger room and bathroom, but in general they're very tiny. Most rooms at an all inclusive resort are huge! You often have a living room/suite, option for a swim out pool off your room and the bathrooms are large with a rain shower head and a soaking bath tub.
All-inclusive resort offered child care just like cruises do. Many offer it for ages 3+ and have babysitters available for a fee for younger children if parents want an evening dinner alone.
Whether you are on a cruise ship or at an all-inclusive, there are always lots of activities to participate in. All-inclusive resorts will have fitness classes as well as pool parties, rum tasting, evening shows and dancing. On cruise ships there's always pool parties, dance lessons, dancing in the evenings at the disco and participating in trivia.
Whether you are on a cruise ship or staying at an all inclusive resort, there is the option to sign up for excursions through the cruise ship, resort or with your travel agent.
One Note About Cruising
I do still think cruises are your best option when you want to explore new places, see a different country or port everyday and get a taste for a place first, before deciding if you want to go back for an extended stay!
The Gypsea Traveller loves to plan tropical vacations. Libbi recently bought a condo in the Dominican Republic because she loves the Caribbean Sea and the weather and can’t wait to spend more time there. She’s an island girl at heart after living in Hawaii for 6+ years.
If you have questions about visiting an all inclusive resort in the Caribbean and want to book your next vacation, you can visitwww.thegypseatraveller.com and click on "Schedule Consult" to choose a date/time to zoom with Libbi, The Gypsea Traveller