All-Inclusives vs. Cruises

When thinking about a warm-weather getaway, people often wrestle with the decision of whether to take a Caribbean cruise or plan a land-based vacation at an all-inclusive resort. To help you decide between the two types of vacation, here are some of the key differences between the two:

Depth of experience. A cruise typically offers a “sampler” of various islands, with no more than 8-10 hours spent in any one port. It’s a good way to get a taste of several different islands, but you’ll really only scratch the surface. With a resort stay, you’ll have much more time to explore one destination in depth, but if you’re someone who gets easily bored, you may crave a little more variety.

Food and beverage. An all-inclusive is exactly that – all your food and beverages are included in the overall room rate. With most cruises (except the very high-end ones), the basic meals are included, but you’ll pay extra for soda, alcohol, specialty dining at the nicer restaurants, and even (on some ships) ice cream parlors and bakery treats. If you’re likely to rack up a big bar bill, you’ll definitely want to factor that into your decision.

Activities. There are many free activities onboard a cruise ship, including games, contests, classes, and more, but once you step off the ship onto an island you’ll pay for shore excursions, water sports, and tours. Most all-inclusive resorts include free use of the non-motorized watersports (kayaks, sailboats, snorkel equipment, etc.) but charge an added fee for things like jet skis, SCUBA trips, and organized excursions and tours. Depending on what types of activities you enjoy, you may find that one type of trip is a better value than the other.

Entertainment. While many all-inclusives promote the fact that they include free nightly entertainment, none of them can come close to what’s available on a cruise ship. If you enjoy good live music, comedy, and broadway-style shows, you’re not going to find it at an all-inclusive resort.

And if you’re still struggling with the decision between a land-based or cruise vacation, give me a call – I can certainly help you sort it all out!


You provided excellent guidance for us. I appreciated that you really had us think about what was most important to us when we were selecting the right cruise – and not to totally focus on what other people had to say. THANK YOU for helping to make this a memorable trip for our family! It really was a trip of a lifetime!

Clare and Mark (family cruise to Alaska)

The level of service we experienced was out of this world (and we did NOT make it easy on Ann). We weren’t quite sure where we wanted to go, when we would be able to go, or what “vibe” we were going for. After asking us some key questions (what we liked, didn’t like, why, etc.) Ann helped us narrow down our trip details and planned the honeymoon of our dreams. She helped book some of our excursions, answered some emergency questions while abroad and was always available/willing to help. I think it’s safe to say we won’t be using anyone else for future travel planning – Ann is a rockstar!

Carli (Italy and Spain)