Heather and I have done 3 all-inclusive trips (Couples Negril, Aventura Spa Palace, Sun Palace) and 2 cruises (1 RC, 1 Carnival) in our 4 years of being married. And have 1 of each planned over the next year. We enjoy both styles of vacations immensly, but they are very different vacation experiences.
All-inclusive vacations tend to be more relaxing and laid back for us. We tend to take these to get away and unwind 8) . Thus our return to Sun Palace in November, once baby Emma is old enough to leave with my parents.
Cruises are more high energy and exciting, bit more of a party atmosphere
. Thus our cruise next year to celebrate Heathers 30th bday.
With AI resorts we love not having anywhere to be and nothing to do when we get there. The pool areas at AIs are much bigger, nicer and not as crowded. You can also just go and lay out on the beach as well. Plus the flag service is excellent, just put your flag in the sand and a server is by within minutes to take your drink or food order. All of the AIs that we have stayed at do offer free excursions for shopping and sight seeing if you want to get away from the resort. In Mexico there are free trips to the ruins at Chitcha Itza and Tulum. In Negril there was a sunset cruise included, as well as several other trips. Plus numerous other activities for a small charge, and plenty of time to check out the area. The rooms at AIs are bigger and nicer, with stocked fridges and at Palace resorts a 2 person hottub in the room. The food at AIs is good, especially breakfast, but not as good as the food on a cruise. Sun Palace does have an excellent Sushi bar (as most AIs now do). As with cruises there are different levels of AIs, some offer just call brands and basic service, others offer high end liquors and dining. You will get what you pay for. Plus we like not having to worry about that sign and sale bill thats coming!! But there is also little to do at night at AIs. The shows are very small and at best just alright. And the clubs are not very exciting either.
Cruising seems to us to be more adventuresome!! Heading out into the ocean on a floating city to check out numerous new places and countries. The nightlife on cruises is much better. The Vegas Style shows are excellent, the bars/clubs are always hopping and the Casino is ripe for taking your money!! So plenty of activities to keep you going untill the wee hours. The only downside is if you have a port day the next morning and you have to be up early. The food is much better on cruises, especially in the dining rooms for lunch and dinner. Not to mention the dining experience of the Supper Clubs, so worth the extra money. And there is nothing more relaxing or romantic than sitting on your balcony late at night starring at the stars and watching the water go by. The only downside (other than the S&S bill!!) is the amount of time you get in each port and the regimented schedule of a cruise. Like having to go to an early show if you have late dinner or having to eat at 6 every night for early dining.
As far as cost AIs are more affordable for us by the time you figure in the S&S bill. But lack the shows and nightlife.
We tend to come home from AIs relaxed and recharged. And come back from cruises needing a day to recover.
We will continue to do both, depending on what we are looking for, as long as we can.
Randy and Heather