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Thread: Cruises vs all-inclusive resorts...help!

  1. #1
    Elite Member Bellatheball's Avatar
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    Default Cruises vs all-inclusive resorts...help!

    Ok, so my husband and I are going on a trip in June. We only have a week to go because we're leaving our little girl with her grandparents (sniff sniff). We have looked at several locations but finally decided that we simply wanted a no hassel vacation with lots of beaches, a few coconuts to drink out of, huts to nap under, and good food. We've decided on the Caribbean somewhere.

    I've looked into cruises. I was on a few 15-20 years ago and haven't been since. He's never been on one. After lots of looking though, I'm worried that we'll have to fight for lounging space and might feel rushed by the schedules. On the plus side, we'd get to see a lot of islands and know that we won't be attacked by dog-sized bugs (always a plus!).

    An all inclusive resort is our other option. We did this three years ago and had a great time. The thing is, we have no experience at all with any of the islands we're considering (St. Kitts, St. Barts, Barbados, Turks and Caicos) and have no idea what we'd be getting ourselves into. What if we have a crappy place with mosquito nets and rat traps?

    Any suggestions from those who have experience with the Caribbean?

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    A*O
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    This is a tricky one. As you say, both have pros and cons. If you just want to relax to the max then I'd say a resort is better because you can spread out more and find a quiet spot somewhere on the beach, by the pool, etc and there are more things to do like golf, etc and you can go and explore the island, etc. HOWEVER, a lot of these resorts are very much couples/honeymooners only (which might be what you want!) but be prepared for a lot of people, young and old, who are in the mood for LURVE. Check also about weddings - some of these resorts have several weddings a day and they can be quite disruptive if you can't get away from them or if they take over large sections of the hotel, pool, etc.

    Cruising means you get to see more places, although the excursions etc can be quite hectic and 'touristy'. You won't have as much personal space and there are always people everywhere. There's more entertainment provided and the catering is usually superb and some people enjoy the ritual of dressing up for dinner every night. But it's a worthwhile experience and a bit 'different' especially if your husband hasn't done it before.

    In my experience, one Caribbean island is very much like another in terms of the standard of resort and facilities provided and you basically get what you pay for so it's not something I'd do on a very limited budget to be honest. Ditto cruising. Bugs are bugs wherever you go so if you freak out at anything with more than 4 legs then perhaps the Caribbean isn't for you anyway.
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    Elite Member Lobelia's Avatar
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    I've done one cruise & about 3 or 4 all-inclusives. A*O is right about the relaxation factor. It's easier to just stay put & lay around at the all-inclusive. In my experience, the food was about the same in all of them. Good but not GREAT but I suppose there are some more expensive resorts with better food & everything. I never noticed bugs, but I was always in Mexico at one place or another, so maybe it's different in the islands. I do think lounging space is more competitive on a cruise, but then again, I was just on the one.
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    Elite Member Bellatheball's Avatar
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    A*O, where have you been? I'm totally open to suggestions. We were at an all inclusive a few years back and I (thankfully!!!) didn't see a single bug. Actually, I've manage to go to several Caribbean islands without seeing any. Weird, now that I think of it.

    Lobes, ditto. Where have you been? Any suggestions?

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    Elite Member LynnieD's Avatar
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    Been to a few All Inclusives, one in St. Thomas, one in Cancun. My friend just went to Grand Cayman and loved it---but said it was INCREDIBLY expensive and if they had to do it over again, would have gone to Atlantis on Paradise Island or Aruba or something.

    Never been on a cruise personally...


    I loved the All Inclusive feel, but yet, felt a tad restricted too, but you obviously don't HAVE to eat all your meals at the resort.....the drinks were nice, won't lie to you there.

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    Elite Member Bellatheball's Avatar
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    ^ LOL. We went to Grand Caymon. Mind you, this was probably 15-20 years ago and one fricken Coke was $3. I can only imagine what it is now. If it hadn't been for that, I'd seriously consider it now as it's one of the few islands completely surrounded by the Caribbean.

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    Elite Member Lobelia's Avatar
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    I've been at resorts in Cozumel, Cabo San Lucas & Puerto Vallarta. The cruise went to Grand Cayman, Cozumel & somewhere else that is slipping my mind at the moment, and it's really bothering me........

    I've had quite enough of Mexico, thank you, but I will say that Puerto Vallarta was really cool. If I ever do go back, I wouldn't mind going there. Didn't care for Cabo at all.
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    Super Moderator NoDayButToday's Avatar
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    Grand Cayman is known for being one of the most expensive islands to travel to. I can't really input anything on all-inclusives since we've never done that (although we're considering it for next year), but we've done a cruise every year for the past 6. If you are interested in lounging next to the pool on sea days it means a very early morning for you. On every line I've ever been on people wake up EARLY to claim chairs by throwing their crap down and then not coming back for hours (of course it's against cruise policy so people remove that stuff, which leads to fun confrontations sometimes). Usually every port has beach excursions if you are interested in just lounging on a beach somewhere and those usually aren't rushed and touristy. The best of those I've ever been to was Passion Island in Cozumel. Only cruise lines are allowed to go there, and it is literally one of the most beautiful beaches I've seen-you've seen it too, all the Corona commercials are filmed there, which equals one negative, the only beer you can find on Passion Island is Corona

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    A*O
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    It's a LONG time since I went to Antigua and Barbados so I'd hate to give out of date info. Both resorts were what you'd expect - beach, pool, good food (not excellent, but no gastro either!) although I have to say the service tended to be a bit too laid back sometimes. It's a Caribbean thing and if you are there to relax it's no biggie.

    I haven't cruised there but did cruise around some South Pacific Islands (same diff) and found it a tad claustrophobic sometimes. It's party time ALL the time on a boat and if you are not in the mood there aren't many places to hide LOL.

    It's a hard one to call. As I say, both have pros and cons and so it's really a case of what would suit your personalities. If you are major party animals then I'd say a cruise. If you want to do absolutely nothing in relaxing surroundings for a week I'd pick a resort. It can be useful asking a travel agent about specific recommendations. They often have the inside track on places (the good and the bad) and can sometimes offer a great flights/resort/cruise package.
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    Hit By Ban Bus! pacific breeze's Avatar
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    Puerto Vallarta has a lot of good all-inclusive resorts, particularly in Nuevo Vallarta, where we stayed. I haven't been to Cabo, but I've been to a lot of places in Mexico. Jamacia has some nice all-inclusive resorts too, in fact, I think theirs are some of the best anywhere. Negril is the place to go there. It has one of the best beaches in the world -- seven miles of white sand.

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    Elite Member Bellatheball's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the great input guys. I really appreciate it.

    We talked, read all of this, and went through a ton of reviews last night and I think we're now a heavy lean to a resort in a non Mexican destination. I was trying to avoid a travel agent just because of a bad experience with one. Maybe it's worth it though. I just want to make sure we end up with a place that's clean and relaxing.

    I've surfed tons of sites but none are really great at giving you all of the hotels on an island along with their official star rating. Does such a thing exist?

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    Hit By Ban Bus! pacific breeze's Avatar
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    I think it's better to go on consumer sites and read customer reviews rather than rely on ratings from resorts with a vested interest in selling themselves. Reviews of vacations, hotels, resorts, vacation and travel packages - TripAdvisor This is an excellent place to start.

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    Elite Member Bellatheball's Avatar
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    ^^ Great, thanks PB. I appreciate it.

    Off to look!

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    Elite Member twitchy's Avatar
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    Beware though because some companies do spam consumer review sites pretending to be ordinary people. I discovered this a while ago while researching a large purchase and was really ticked.

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    Elite Member Bellatheball's Avatar
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    Hey, that was a great site PB. Thanks again.

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