I've done both and while some things can be compared, much of it can't because at each I'm looking for something different. With the all inclusive resort we go a for private beach front cottage at a five star resort. All we want to do was relax in privacy at a beautiful location. With the cruise we look forward to going to the different ports, meeting lots of people from all over, going on the shore excursions and seeing a little something of each country we visit. While the cruise still provides (at least in my experience) great food and service, it tends to be a more active vacation for us. At the last resort we were there for ten days and only went on two excursions. The rest of the time we just spent relaxing on the beach. For overall value for the money I think the cruise is the best option. We spend a lot more money for the resort to get what we are looking for there.
We are debating a Mayan Riviera,Mexico all-incl. or Carnival Valor Jan.23 W.Caribb. We have 2 kids(7,13) who would love the waterslide,pizza on the Valor but would love the MANY Mocktails at the all-inclusive. (I have only taken 1 Princess W.Caribb. cruise Jan.01.) Pricewise the all-incl. might be cheaper overall. Anyone have ideas about which one would be best for the kids(and parents!)?? Thanks. I love reading the message boards-good info.
My kids love cruising. They're 10, 12 & 15. We just got back from Western Carribean on the Carnival Inspiration and we all had a ball. I did post a review if you want to take a look. I've never done an all inclusive resort with my kids because I think they might get bored being in one place for a week. At a resort you still have to pay for any motorized water sports or excursions. I've priced out both and each time the cruise was less expensive. Hope this helps.
Darcy, I wondered about that for bigger kids - I know some of the all inclusives have pretty cool looking activities; I was thinking when my kids get bigger they'd enjoy it even more than a cruise. Now I wonder...
Oh, about for paying for extras - I think it depends on the resort - the one we went to included one scuba dive per day, a nanny, glass bottomed boat ride, jetskis, and a couple of lame excursions.
we went to FDR Pebbles. It's small & comfortable, perfect for our aged kids (2 and 4). I'm thinking if you don't need a nanny, it might not be as perfect a fit for you. For kids your ages, though, I saw a bunch that might be fun (just got to wait 10 years to try them myself, lol).
There are a couple in the Dominican Republic that have horseback riding & scuba, I remember seeing a few (in Mexico, was it?) where they can learn to swing on a trapeze & do circus-y stuff...seems like a good variety.
I was just really surprised that I enjoyed the all-inclusive so much. It was relaxing not stressing about maximizing our time at each port, trying to cram too much in. We had more freedom to decide when we wanted to do a particular activity, more flexibility. After having our Belize excursion and our Grand Cayman excursion canceled due to weather, it was nice to have the flexibility - a couple of days to fiddle around with your activities, and not have the weather really spoil your plans.
And we did feel like we got a taste of Jamaica - sometimes the port stops are so short you really can't get a feel for the country, you know? Can't judge a whole country on what its port area is like (many port areas are kind of seedy, you know?). We were away from the cities, and I felt safe enough to wander off the resort and talk to some of the locals.
All inclusives will now be our vacation of choice till the Clean Cruise Bill gets passed (boy do I hope it passes!)
Just make sure that your all inclusive does indeed include the kids' program. At some resorts, you pay about $45 per half day session per child, which gets expensive. However, they are free (and just as good -- if not better) on the cruise lines.
Luisa Frey Gaynor
Family Cruise Editor
What i enjoy about the cruises is that I can give my kids freedom
I am not sure if I would let them wander a resort in mexico at night alone.
I have only stayed at an ai in riviera maya:
Everything in the up front price, including tips -- no surprises at end.
If you love beaches -- you can find fabulous resorts.
Rooms are larger
its more relaxing
YOu can generally get charter air add ons from major gateways
Food , 3-4 days is ok , but I dont think I could take a week of buffet food
Weather -- if it rains ( tropical storm when i stayed) there is almost nothing to do
Evening entertainment-- its available , but ,
Kids-- again, if you have older kids -- teens -- they are going to find the liquor pretty easily--
service-- its good , but its not like cruising , meals are generally buffet style -- there are sit down restaurants , but usually limited to how often you can go.
construction -- it might be hard to tell if a new hotel is going up right next door -- or if they are renovating a wing on your resort
we have done both and i agree that alcohol could be a problem with older teens, it flows pretty freely at the all-inclusive resorts, your food choices are very limited ,if you don't like the restaurant on the property then you have to pay a cab to go into town and pay for a meal at a restaurant. Some excursions are included, some are extra, and we have found that when it comes to alcohol if you like basic bar liquor and wine that's fine, but if you like a better quality or premium liquor or wine you will have to pay for it, if the resort has it.
Hi Darcy and everyone, Thanks for the pros and cons of AI vs.Cruise. I will let you know what we decide. Reading the message boards and the possibility of knowing someone on the same cruise seems pretty neat, can't do that with an AI. People who take cruises seem like a nice bunch on these boards. Thanks again. Brenda in Canada