woman standing with luggage at airport

Is a Cruise Better Than An All-Inclusive Resort?

When it comes to vacationing, everyone is different. What appeals to one might not appeal to another. We’re going to discuss the differences between cruising and all-inclusive land vacations. And our conclusion is not what you probably think.

Did you notice that we didn’t say we were going to discuss which vacation option is “better”? That’s because an all-inclusive vacation is really nice. After all, they’re usually in beautiful settings with multiple dining options. Entertainment is also available. And all of this is usually available for the cost of your vacation.

What about cruising? It, too, takes you to beautiful locations including the open sea. Cruising also offers multiple dining options as well as entertainment. One of the most beautiful sights is taking in a sunset on an upper deck of a ship. And just like an all-Inclusive resort, all these things come included for the cost of your cruise.


So far, it seems like cruising and all-inclusive resorts are basically the same thing. And in some respects they are. As we discussed, almost everything you can enjoy is included in the cost of your vacation. But there are some differences. And those differences are what will make one more appealing than the other.

All-Inclusive Resorts

The first difference is where you will spend your vacation. When it comes to all-inclusive resorts, you can enjoy the white, powdery sands of the Bahamas. The turquoise waters surrounding the Dominican Republic provides an ideal setting for all-inclusive resorts. And Mexican resorts share these same settings.

While there, play a few rounds of golf. Go on an excursion. Or lay in a cabana and let the gentle rhythm of the ocean wash your stress away. Dine at any one of the restaurants at the resort. And if the resort has other properties, you might be able to dine at those too. The entertainment may also be available at the different properties at no extra cost.


What sets cruising apart from all-inclusive resorts is that, unlike a resort, a cruise will take you to a different location just about every day. The Bahamas are beautiful. That’s why all-inclusive resorts build there. Same thing with Mexico. However, unlike a resort, you can visit all these locations during your stay aboard a cruise ship.

And that is the primary difference – being able to experience a different location every day. 

What Are The Down-sides

We want to be transparent. This way you can make an informed decision as to what you might like to do. And remember, there’s no reason why you can’t do an all-inclusive for one vacation and a cruise the next. 

So what are some down-sides of each? This doesn’t necessarily mean the down-side is tragically bad (although it can be). But there are some things you should think about depending on the mood of your vacation.

Excursion Issues You Might Experience Cruising

Excursions are a big draw when cruising. Because you’re visiting a different island roughly every other day, there are a lot of places you can explore. Some excursions are not far from the dock. Others are deep into the island.

Not a problem. This is normal. What can make this a problem is where you purchase your excursion. 

A popular way to find an excursion is to book through the cruise line. Another choice is booking an excursion once you get off the ship. Some might feel getting their excursion at the pier is where the danger arises. 

Safety is the first thing you might think. Believe it or not, that’s probably the least likely problem you’ll have. These destinations depend on tourism to make a living. So if the destination started getting a reputation for kidnappings and robberies, it would doom the economy. It’s not to their advantage to harm you in any way.

So if safety isn’t the problem doing an excursion when cruising, then what is? 

You might be surprised to learn that the simple act of getting back from your excursion is where things can get dicey. 

Every cruise ship has an “all-aboard” time. For example, if the all-aboard time is 4PM, the ship will close the doors to the gangway and shove off at 4 o’clock. Anyone not aboard by that time will be left at the pier. It will be up to the individual to find their way back home. Usually. 

You see, there is an exception where the ship absolutely cannot leave if passengers are not on-board. And what makes that determination goes back to where a traveler purchased their excursion.

Anyone who books an excursion on their own has to make sure they get back to the ship before the all-aboard time. If they don’t, unfortunately, it’s too bad for them. 

If, on the other hand, the excursion was booked through the cruise line and something happens so that passengers are late for the ship, the ship must wait. It doesn’t matter if the bus broke down, there was a traffic accident or alien abduction. The ship can’t leave. Because the excursion was arranged through the ship, they must wait for all parties who booked excursions through the ship to arrive no matter how long it takes.

But, if you booked your excursion on your own and any of the above things happen, you will literally be stuck. This is a down-side to doing an excursion when cruising.

Excursion Issues At An All Inclusive

When it comes to safety, the same things about excursions for cruising apply to an all-inclusive resort. There are also no concerns about getting back late because your resort isn’t going anywhere. Hence, the issues with excursions at an all-inclusive aren’t as critical.

The problem you’ll run into with a resort is the lack of variety. Don’t take that to mean there are limited places to visit. Remember, many all-inclusive resorts are located in places where cruise ships visit. The issue is that, unlike cruising where you see a different place nearly every day, when you’re on land, you don’t get that variety.

In view of these facts, the question is what are you in the mood for? Getting transportation to visit multiple places to explore? Or exploring only the place in proximity of your resort?

Airfare Costs

When it comes to getting on a cruise ship, there are a number of ways to get to the pier. Some choose to fly; others decide to drive. In fact, most cruise ports are within a half day’s drive from most places. For those that aren’t, a flight is in order.

Traveling to a cruise port is relatively inexpensive. Getting to a resort can get expensive. Don’t believe it? Here’s what the costs are from Charlotte to Miami and Charlotte to Nassau, Bahamas. (We choose Charlotte because it is not within 2 hours of a cruise port)

Here’s the cost from Charlotte to Miami according to Expedia:

Booking info from Charlotte to Miami
Charlotte to Miami

And this is from Charlotte to Nassau :

Booking info from Charlotte to Nassau
Charlotte to Nassau

Notice the difference in cost. Now multiply that by the number of people with whom you’ll be traveling. Just getting to the resort can eat up a lot of your money.

That doesn’t mean driving to the cruise port doesn’t have any costs. Gas, tolls, hotel (because it’s a very, very good idea to get there a day early if the port is more than 2 hours from your home), food and paying for parking while you’re away can also add up.

The Verdict

As you can see, there’s no clear-cut winner. When it comes to travel costs, all-inclusive resorts can get expensive once you include airfare. On the other hand, getting left at the cruise port because an excursion you booked got you back too late, is a horrific thought.

What are other pros and cons with cruising vs all-inclusive resorts? Leave your opinions in the comments below. But based on what we’ve discussed, which one is the winner – cruising or all-inclusive? The answer?

It depends on you. As we said, there are lots of good reasons to go to an all-inclusive. The advantages are the same for a cruise. It also might sound like getting left at the cruise port automatically makes cruising the looser. Just remember, if you book the excursion through the ship, it doesn’t matter if you get back to the ship late.

All that being said, we lean more toward cruising (obviously). If you’ve never been on a cruise, it’s an amazing experience. Modern cruise ships are literally floating cities. There’s everything from go-kart racing, roller coasters, movies, laser tag, bowling and more on a ship.

If you’d like to give cruising a try, let the Dream Team know what your preferences are and we’ll arrange a cruise that will be unforgettable.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

J's Dream Travel