Saturday, January 16, 2010

All-inclusive versus Cruising SMC 1/16/10

If you are a follower of this blog you already know that I have now been to two all-inclusive resorts and been on two cruises. Just about every week, especially this time of the year, someone will call and ask which they should do. All they know for sure is that they want to be somewhere warm that's not here. I am going to try to put my answer to those clients in writing this morning. I haven't in the past because only having gone on one cruise I didn't feel I could give a fair assessment of the cruise industry base on one experience. Now, after our Thanksgiving cruise with Princess I feel I have a much better personal grip on cruises. For the record, I have done extensive training with almost every cruise line and travel company and have toured a couple ships I haven't actually sailed on.
Lets start with an all inclusive resort. The #1 thing I like is, just like the name suggest, it's all-inclusive! I am guessing the concept was born when an investor with my mindset went on a cruise. For people like me that watch their budget very closely and like to know what it is "really" going to cost to take a vacation. As with everything we will discuss today I am speaking in general terms, there are a lot of AI resorts and a lot of cruise lines...take that for what it is worth. With AIs the initial outlay of money will almost always be more than the initial cost of a cruise. The difference and the personal experience I have had is you literally do not need any cash with you while at an AI. Most everyone of them even include your gratuities in the initial cost. Food, drinks(alcoholic and non), entertainment, and beach activities are all paid for. However, I do suggest taking some cash for two reasons. One, some countries charge a departure tax before you are allowed to leave their airport(usually less than $20). Two, you know you are going to want to have a souvenir to bring back and it is just dumb not to have some cash on you at anytime because you just never know. On the negative side of the coin with an AI you are in one country, one resort, in one city/area for the length of your stay. If you do want to venture away from the resort itself it will cost you money, though usually not much in a cab fare plus what ever it is you want to do. Side note, another reason to use an agent is I happen to know a couple resorts right now in Cancun that are offering free tours to several ruins sites, zip line, and admission to a water park if you book with them. All in all if you have a relaxing beach get away in mind and not a lot of crowd or hassle, an all-inclusive may be just what the Dr has ordered for you.
Up next cruising: Number one like, price! The cruise industry is extremely competitive therefore extremely affordable. Now like with everything in life if you want the penthouse suite you better get your check book out. On the other side if you are willing to stay in an interior cabin(which I do not suggest and will be the topic of another blog) you can cruise dirt cheap...initially. I also like cruises for some more reasons. I really like the actual cruising part. It has its own unique draw just being on the sea and watching the sunrise over the next day's port from the ship or as you pull away that afternoon at sunset. I really enjoy the nightly entertainment on board the ship(it's way better than what you will get at an AI). Last but not least I like the fact you do get to see multiple countries and cultures on one trip without having to pack and unpack. Now for the not so good side. Remember how much cheaper the cruise is? Well from the time you get on board to the time you get off there is a sales pitch for something...if you know me you know that drives me nuts! If you would like a Coca Cola, that will be about $3. If you would like a beer, that will be about $5, and if you want a mixed drink you better really want one, that will be about $8...and we are not talking about a fish bowl, it's about four swallows. Want to just spend a day at the beach in what ever port you may be in that day,it will run you about $100-150 per couple to have the cruise line take you. If that isn't enough you will usually have to rent a chair, buy your lunch, and drinks there too. Oh yea, remember the gratuities that are mandatory on a cruise, that will be about $10 per person per day. I could go on and on but I think you get the point. Unless you do not want a drink outside of water and juice and do not want to do any excursions you are not really going to save any money at all. One more quick thing about this topic and I will move on, this is for the guys. I have been with my wife on three of the four trips above...she probably spent 1/10 the amount at the AI that she did on the cruises. Those stinking sales pitches on the ship, they aren't for us. They announce that tonight from 6-8 the XYZ store will mark down everything 50% and they go bananas! It's a feeding frenzy and your wife will do it too. Not to mention that every port has something they just have to have.
I hope this has been somewhat informative for you all because I know you are tired of reading about now. Let me wrap it all up by saying that I love them both. If you still can't decide which way to go, call me and I bet I can talk to you for no more than 5 minutes, ask a few questions, and decide for you based off your personality which you would rather do. My #1 suggestion is both :) Until someone comes out with an all-inclusive cruise the debate will rage on! Jeremy

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the insight, especially since I haven't been on an all inclusive yet.