Resort vacations and cruise vacations are both attractive options for travelers who want to get away and experience a little fun, sun, relaxation, exploration, whatever.
These styles of travel have a few things in common. But which option is the best for you? Let's take a closer look at resorts vs. cruises. I'll break down my experiences here to give an idea of what to expect.
One of the best parts of both cruise vacations and resort vacations is that you unpack once and you are set for the week or however long you will be staying. Your room at a resort, even if it features a modest level of luxury, will have much more space than a cruise ship cabin. You'll have more space to spread out, more storage space and larger bathrooms. You might even have a balcony with space to have meals and morning coffee while looking out at a beach, lake or mountainside. If you book a higher class cabin, you can score a nice balcony to watch the open ocean waters as you cruise, but the space still is likely to be much smaller than your resort accommodations.
The winner: a resort
Cruise fares include plenty of meal options, and much of the food is very good. I rarely find reason to complain. But I also have low expectations for my meals and find anything cooked for me on a cruise is almost always better than what I am able to whip up at home. You also can order as much as you like on a cruise to eat until you are satisfied and try a lot of new things. If you stay at a resort, you will have to pay extra for any meals that you have at restaurants, whether on-site at the property or off-site. Unless you have splurged for an all-inclusive resort. These all-inclusive vacations typically offer buffet-style meals that you might find satisfying. A cruise buffet is always an option when you are sailing, but your fare also includes meals at main dining rooms at which you receive full table service and dozens of meal options daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The winner: a cruise
Resorts and cruises both feature staff members who arrange a broad array of activities for you to enjoy on your vacation. Try trivia, poolside Olympics, piano players, dancing and cooking classes, beach volleyball, pool volleyball, races, limbo contests and so much more. The resorts and cruise ships also can be outfitted with tons of amenities. On ships, I've seen waterslides, trampolines, ropes courses, ziplines, rock-climbing walls, basketball courts, surfing and skydiving simulators and poolside movie screens. Resorts can have most of these, and your property's might offer bikes, canoes, kayaks, snorkel gear, paddle boards and other equipment to use at the beach.
The winner: tie
At a resort, you can wake up every day and saunter right down to your beach. Maybe your room even opens right up to the sand. You're typically going to have plenty of loungers and thus not have to fret about chair hogs (a problem that plagues cruise ship pool areas). Resorts also have more and larger pools, sometimes with swim-up bars (which are awesome!). On cruises, you also can enjoy your pool time onboard, if you are able to grab a lounger. Some ships have adults-only pool options (resorts do, too), in addition to kids splash zone pool play areas and the main pool. Ships also will offer hot tubs to enjoy. So you can find several options onboard for soaking in the water.
While you'll be playing at one beach at your resort for the duration of your vacation, a cruise gives you multiple options for beach days at new spots, with new places to snorkel and play each time. If you like a bit of variety, this is attractive. I like seeing new waters and reef systems, so I like to hit as many snorkel spots as possible when we cruise in the Caribbean or Mediterranean.
On cruises, you will have only six to seven hours at a beach before you have to get back on the ship to depart your port and sail on to your next destination. Conversely, you can hang all day at a resort beach, enjoying sunrises, sunsets, night swimming and everything else going on, without worrying about time constraints.
The winner: a resort
Cruises and resorts (all-inclusive) generally price out fairly equally. Both can be found in the range of $100 to $150 per person per day and include your meals and a range of included activities and entertainment. Additionally, most travelers will have to consider airfare to get to their departure port or their resort. If you like adult beverages (yep), you will be buying drinks on a cruise (whether an all-you-can-drink package or pay as you go). You'll also pay as you drink at a non-inclusive resort. You also should consider the tipping guidelines of each, too. Tipping is generally optional but expected, and cruises automatically place a tipping charge of $12 to $14 per person per day onto your bill, which you can adjust as you want at the guest services desk.
The bottom line is that you should consider what type of vacation you want and what type of extras you are likely to need from either a resort or cruise (spa services, drinks, specialty dining, additional excursions, etc.).
The winner: depends on the traveler
When your stay at a resort, that is your destination. Maybe it's a week in Hawaii, Mexico, Jamaica, France, etc. You certainly can use it as a home base to do further exploring in the surrounding region, but if you're at an all-inclusive, you probably will be hesitant to give up too many meals and drinks and activities that are part of the package in exchange for venturing off in a rental car or with a tour company at an added expense. On a cruise, you probably will be waking up each day in a new country -- or at least a new port. Also, cruising the open waters on sea days is a wonderful experience, as the oceans or rivers themselves are wonderful destinations in their own right. If checking off new countries is a top goal on your list as a traveler, you can knock off quite a few during various cruise itineraries. Granted, you are only getting a brief look at each country. But I like to use cruise visits as a scouting trip for future land-based stays in a new country.
The winner: a cruise
Overall, you can see there is no clear winner. At this stage of my life, I give the slight edge to cruising. No doubt, both types of vacations are wonderful. I really have enjoyed either type, every time I've done them. But then again, if I'm on vacation, I'm always happy.
Thanks for reading,
Travel fit! Travel happy! Travel often!
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