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All-inclusive resorts vs. cruise ship vacations

Lady Hamilton Jamaica Resort courtesy of travelbybob.com

As more and more long-time cruise passengers are growing weary of the same ports of call, I’m finding that many people are now turning to all-inclusive resorts for their vacation destinations.

Clearly there are pros and cons of each choice, but I’m starting to believe that those who are beginning to enjoy their retirement years are choosing all-inclusives hands down.

Scott and Marty (The Martster) enjoying another Holland America Line cruise (St. Thomas).

Marty and I have sailed on Holland America Line over 150 days (3-star Mariner). We love the 5-star service, food and specialty dining venues!

As Holland America Line and other premium cruise lines try to reach multi-generational families, all-inclusive resorts seem to have the upper hand on kids programs.

The Grand Palladium Lady Hamilton Resort & Spa (Jamaica) activities included in the all-inclusive rate is a kid’s club for 4 to 12 year-old children, open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. There’s also a baby club, open during the same hours, for tots who are between 1 and 3 years old. Unlike the kid’s club, the baby club closes for lunch from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. The kid’s club is particularly good for smaller children, as it has its own playground and wading pool with plenty of toys.

Upon check-in, kids are given small backpacks with goodies. These backpacks come in handy at the kid’s center, allowing them to bring along whatever they want, whether it’s sunscreen or a favorite stuffed animal. There is additional babysitting available after hours for $10 per hour, per child. Another perk is the complimentary strollers available for guest use.

In addition to the kids activities, all-inclusive resorts boast large, spacious suites (villas) even at the low end of the scale.

Booking such a large cabin on a cruise ship will set you back thousands of dollars per person for a Neptune suite on Holland America Line or similar premium cruise line like Celebrity or Norwegian (Haven).

Next, consider the cost of alcohol, bottled water and soft drinks.

Free booze!

Many all-inclusive resorts throw in a free shore excursion in addition to free top-shelf liquor, ice-cold beer, bottled water and sodas!

All-inclusives win again!

Then considering that tips can be upwards of $13.50 per person, per day for a suite, the costs of going on a cruise (even 7 days) will exceed the price of an all-inclusive resort!

Marty enjoying dinner on the Holland America MS Maasdam

Where cruise ships win is the food.

Buffets are pretty basic at all-inclusive resorts, but can attract flies closer to the beach.

Specialty restaurants such as The Pinnacle Grill and Tamarind on Holland America Line are experiences unlike any other. The food, presentation, and service is second-to-none.

I hope that premium cruise lines will begin realizing that their affluent and long-time guests may be losing their love for cruising and choosing all-inclusive resorts.

Their kids and grandkids will enjoy the rich benefits of all-inclusive resorts, while the grandparents are on their iPads (with the free wi-fi) booking their next family vacation (and it won’t be a cruise).

At SeaWorld with my grandson @TheCruiseKid




About Scott Lara

Navy Veteran, Travel Agent, love to cruise!

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