What's the Difference between a cruise and an all inclusive resort?
It used to be that all inclusive resorts were the only choice if you wanted alcohol included. Both All inclusive resort and Cruise lines have always included meals. In the last few years, cruise lines started offering beverage packages to make the experience more all inclusive. This means it's easier to compare the experiences.
A few key differences between cruises and all inclusive resort vacations:
Pools - Cruise ship pools are tiny. If you love pools, you'll want an all inclusive resort.
Night Life - Cruises tend to have more robust night life than all inclusive resorts. You'll have multiple nightly events happening at the same time. For instance, you'll have the nightly show in the theater, a band or DJ hosting a deck party, karaoke and a trio playing in a lounge.
Rooms - Most cruise ship cabins are small. The beds for the 3rd and 4th passengers in a cruise cabin are usually bunks from the ceiling or a double sofa bed.
Kids' Programming- Both cruise ships and all inclusive resorts have kids' clubs. The cruise ship kids' clubs tend to have longer hours than all inclusive resorts.
Dining - All inclusive resorts have more options included each night for dinner. Cruise ships tend to include a main dining room, buffet, and a grill. Specialty dining like a steakhouse or Asian restaurant is extra on a cruise. Most all inclusive resorts have at least three other restaurants in addition to the buffet available for dinner.
Room Service- All Inclusive resorts have more varied room service menus included in your stay. Cruise lines have limited room service menus and some hot food items have a surcharge.
Traveling in a Group- I find it easier to share dinner in a group on a cruise ship since the same table can be reserved in the main dining room each night.
Flexibility - Cruise ships have a set schedule and itinerary. You can customize the length of your all inclusive resort stay.
Casino - Most cruise ship have a Las Vegas-style casino. That is much harder to find at an all inclusive resort.
Adults Only- Currently only two cruise lines - Viking Ocean and Virgin Voyages - are adults only. You have a lot of choices for an adults only all inclusive resort.
Dietary Needs - My experience has been cruises do a better job with food allergies and dietary restrictions than all inclusive resorts.
What would you pick? An All inclusive resort or a cruise?