Saturday, August 22, 2020

The Battle Between Choosing A Cruise VS All Inclusive Resort

Those potential customers, friends and foes alike - every person that travels or dreams of traveling - at one point or another, is faced with the following question -

Do I want to take a Cruise or go to an All Inclusive Resort? 


Heck, some don't even think of either! Or, something totally different.

There really is NO wrong answer here. It is all about preference and being informed on what each is defined as, what's included or not included, and how each works. It is also about knowing who you are. Knowing yourself and your travel companions, above all. And then comes the decision-maker part of you. A Travel Advisor cannot help you make your decision but they can present what they know and offer the best matches based on what they know. I will always try to foster a close relationship with my customers so that I can provide them with the very best advice and support!

Oh yeah and don't forget the all too common question of - What does each option (or any option for that matter) cost per person?  Either way you go, there will inevitably be a cost for the trip of some kind. However each option varies and this will be discussed in this article.

People are thinking in terms of - Is travel within my budget? 

Some want to know how to get the best bang for their buck. So I ask this, why are you NOT using a Travel Advisor ? Ok so onto the rest of the article...

It's not uncommon for folks to wonder what they can and cannot afford when they wish to travel somewhere. People often misalign themselves into thinking they cannot afford to travel anywhere! Yet they are out buying alcohol, smoking cigarettes, going out to eat every other night, buying things they really do not need (and some things they find out they never should have bought in the first place).  Yet, they WANT to travel. Travel will happen if it's something you really want.

Some folks whom have never traveled, they're either really curious or the idea of traveling is daunting, or now with Covid times hitting, they are scared to travel. Some are just plain homebodies and don't give a hoot!  They absolutely abhor getting on a plane in the wee morning hours just to get to a place as early as possible in order to make the most of their vacation. They hate getting home late so they can stay as late as possible extending their vacation just a little bit longer. And depending upon where they are flying to those flight times can vary. Sometimes, I find the whole 'let's put the whole travel bit out of our minds" business a comical ignorance only because folks can limit themselves. They are misinformed all about travel and do not care to learn otherwise. They do not care to learn of the possibilities and know they can have things their way (within reason). Maybe that is just the Travel Consultant part of my thinking. For, I love to travel and cannot see myself doing anything different in my lifetime. Instead of drinking, buying drugs or cigarettes, travel IS my vice of choice. My habit.  So, I'll try not to judge too harshly if you are one of the above types of people. It's totally OK.  If you are reading this article then you ARE curious and thinking about it regardless of any vices you may have. You want to become informed and educated. You want an experienced individual to tell you all about it. You're in the right place. So, I applaud you!!

People aren't taking advantage of the possibilities that ANY TYPE OF TRAVEL IS POSSIBLE. Especially right now with COVID-times. I'm sorry but it IS possible. Even right now. And you can afford to travel if it is on your bucket list.  While no, you may not ever be able to afford Maldives flying from Maine to Male for example (unless it's the one and done trip of a lifetime...and you are willing to make major sacrifices or you have an unlimited income). You get the idea. For all intents and purposes you CAN afford to travel SOMEWHERE.

After my recent trip to Mexico I had someone look at me very oddly and ask - Do you have a death wish? No, I do not.  I would not be traveling if I did not know the risks and what I was doing.  😊

All Inclusive Resorts and Cruises are THE MOST affordable trips you can take.

Onto explaining what each option is...

So what is a Cruise?


Some of you may be under the impression that a Cruise is similar to getting into a jetty (a small boat) with the waves crashing everywhere and you're about to die from either falling overboard, sinking or throwing up. Take your pick. I know... None of it is pretty, right?  Well, this is just not the case!  Yeah some of you may have sea-sickness issues and that could be a valid type of objection but STOP before you close this page or totally write cruising off your list for life!  If you haven't tried it, don't knock it.

Stay tuned and I'll get to the whole sea-sickness bit in a moment and ideas on how to deal with it successfully....

Cruise - Safety Considerations


Some of you may be thinking cruises are simply not safe. First off, nothing could be further from the truth. But I get how you're on a ship with 1000's of other people, "stuck" in the middle of the ocean. You're not close to a hospital or you may even be located at the port of another country and get sick. A lot can happen right? It can happen anywhere!! So let me ask you this: Is driving every day to work, safe? Is getting on a roof to shingle, safe? Is riding your bike at the end of a tarred road without a helmet, safe? Is playing pond-hockey without a helmet and full body pads - safe? Is crossing a busy street, safe? Come on people, every day we risk our lives to some degree for one reason or another.  When we cook, when we walk in the bathroom (think slippery floors we didn't know were slippery..), grilling on the back deck - what have you. Whether for pure enjoyment or requirement, we will face inherent risks. We could die at any moment sitting in our chair from a heart attack. By the way, and not to change the subject, but have you ever seen that show "A 1000 ways to die"? If you haven't, then you really aren't thinking of the possibilities that life is just one big plain risk no matter what you do.  Every. Single. Day. I could be sitting in my chair typing this article to you and in a few minutes, my computer could blow up (for absolutely no reason) while I'm typing. Bang, no more hands. Burns everywhere. Maybe even death. Buh-Bye! 

So let's stop with the dramatics Ok? You get the idea. Using cruise safety as a decision-maker for or against is not a fair objection. Unless you are interested in health protocols the ships are taking onboard before and after each sailing then you have a valid consideration. Or which cruise line or ship to sail on. Then I get it. This information is readily available at this link. Be sure to check out the Green Sheet reports located at the right of the page. Hopefully this should ease your fear of cruising as a general possibility. And if you still aren't sold, then you have a different objection. Email me at tammy.estes@estestravel.com and we'll talk through it! Hopefully you aren't the type of person who makes constant excuses for anything and everything and if you are, then you probably should not even be reading this article since traveling will most likely be an "out" for you anyway!

Cruising - Pros and Cons

I can name a million things that may be going through your mind right now but let's try to focus on the Positives and Negatives that I know about from my own experiences with Cruises and Cruising. Also a little bit from my training as well.

Yes, you will get on a ship (do not call it a boat!)  with other people.  (think size isn't important? think again). Yes, you will sail from one port to the next (if that is indeed the purpose of your intended cruise). So you will see more than one country and have limited time in each that is not a week long vendetta. No, you will not have to stick to a regular regimented schedule once you are onboard. You can pretty much do as you please as long as it's legal (to the country of origin). Yes, there are cruises the kids AND the parents can enjoy. Yes, there are Kids Clubs so parents can have a night or day to themselves basking quietly in a hot tub of the adults only section. All included and at a fee. Yes, there are TONS of entertainment options on most ships. And they vary!  Yes, singles can cruise on a ship and meet other like-minded singles. Some at a singles supplement some not. I suggest you find a group singles cruise or let's create one together shall we? Yes, there are accommodating cabins for those with a disability. No, cabins do not have to be too small or no tub, or not enough beds. No, you do not have to get sea-sick.

Phew! A lot of questions and answers here, right? Basically for every person there is a reason, season and cost when it comes to traveling and cruising has no less wear and tear on the issue.

Now that I've highlighted and answered a few of the questions that may have come to your mind, let's move on to specifics.

Cruises and Sea Sickness

I have been asked about people who get sea-sick easily and if cruising is a consideration for them. All I can say is... it is entirely up to you! What I can say is this. With a Travel Advisor such as myself I would do everything I can to make sure you are as comfortable as possible while on board. It IS possible to encounter a perfectly seasickness-free cruise with a little planning and a very small amount of luck! 

One Hint: All cruise ships are built with stabilizers. Those stabilizers vary by the ship size. And their purpose is to stabilize the ship against the waves and motion. That up and down motion, that side to side or forward and backward motion you'd feel without stabilizers - that lends a hand to the the realm of seasickness or no seasickness. Hint Number Two: If you are a severe sea-sick probable individual and items such as seasickness bands, dramamine or other OTC brands of medication do not help you, consult your physician. There ARE medical interventions out there that can allow you to enjoy a cruise. If you haven't tried them all, do not knock it. I know from first hand experience that it's just not a valid lying objection for anybody. At the tender age of 13 I was on a small boat (not a ship) fishing in the middle of the ocean. The waves were rocking us horribly. I was vomiting my brains out off the side of the boat! After that experience, I thought I'd never go out on the water again in any form of vessel. I was wrong and here I am an avid cruiser and fisherman and would take any chance (that I can afford) to  in order to cruise tomorrow! I have been on large ships, medium and small ships, catamarans, small fishing vessels and large fishing vessels. I can attest that no one ship (or a boat) you cruise on will be alike. Hint number three: Where you are positioned is everything.

I have MORE hints for you as a potential customer and would love to talk about them more in depth! No pressure at all and no sales pitch-i-ness. You ultimately make the last call. However I truly hope you will book your cruise through me and allow me to help you plan out all the details with excitement!


Intricacies of Cruise Ships - Compared to All Inclusive Resorts

Ships and All Inclusive Resorts have many similarities and differences. They are both a vacation right?  They can range from small to medium to large. Meaning they will be able to accommodate a certain number of people, a certain amount of and type of shows or entertainment offered at night or during the day, and numbers of restaurants/ bars offered. Sizes also vary by brand not just by ship. The same holds true with all inclusive resorts. To a degree. When thinking of brands think no different than you selecting between the slight specifics of Nike over Basics or a more generalized view between Nike over a Walmart brand sneaker. There are several brands of cruise lines and all inclusive resorts to fit all different types of tastes, requirements, personalities and budgets. The list goes on. So if you really want to know why I do what I do, here it is. Prime example! I can match you to the right cruise or all inclusive resort. I CAN offer you a more enjoyable experience. I CAN give you the details on a specific cruise or all inclusive - not just what you read on the internet.  The internet has a lot and I mean a lot of misinformation everywhere. Photos can be dressed up and be nothing like the actual resort. Which is why we have Travel Advisors like myself who have either been there or know another travel advisor in the network whom has. Travel Advisors in general are held to a certain moral ethic, especially if they are certified.

One thing between a cruise and all inclusive resort that's separate: Time. I know this may seem like a really odd word to use. Keep reading...

 Yes, there are OPTIONS. Many, many options. And we can get down to every nook and cranny if you wanted to. But I won't do that here. So when we talk and I ask you questions about yourself, hopefully you will oblige in answering them and we can have a great conversation that leads you to make a well informed decision! 

You might be the type to shop only the Deals and not care about the specifics. If that is you, be in for all kinds of surprises. And if you are in for surprises and don't mind them, good for you but please book your cruise or all inclusive travel through me. If not out of courtesy then for our economy and keeping all small businesses running! 

I really hate to say this but it's true - if you are a first time cruiser or traveler DO NOT leave your first experience cruising or all inclusive stay up for surprises. Hire someone who knows! Because those same surprises can turn you off to the whole idea of cruising or tripping after your first try. Picking the wrong cruise or all inclusive resort can also set a presidence to all other cruises and all inclusives chosen in the future as well. It's kind of like once you purchase Nike you're never willing to look back and consider to purchase anything else. For most people, they dislike change.

This is why I do what I do as a Travel Consultant. I am like the matchmaker of the cruise and all inclusive "dating" scene! My goal is to be the best at what I can do, for you.


What is included? 

What's included on a cruise will vary from cruise to cruise/brand to brand (most likely). Same for an all inclusive resorts. For an all inclusive resort, the same holds true - to an extent.  We can expect certain things to be included at an all inclusive resort. We can expect that your flight (most likely if it is priced with such), you food, entertainment, your room and certain liquors to be included. On a cruise, we can expect that your cabin, the cruise itself, your port charges and fees, most of your food, most of the entertainment and basic drinks (non-alcoholic and not soda, or coffee) are included at the very bare minimum. Anything else will come at an extra cost either up front in the cruise, as a pre-cruise purchase or while on board. Take your pick. If you are really saavy about choosing a cruise for yourself and money is not an issue, you can choose a brand that is TRULY all inclusive (again what's not included becomes a much smaller issue). Some all inclusive resorts out there may have a restaurant onsite that is at an extra supplemental fee as well. However not nearly as common or perhaps the right word would be to make you aware. Most cruises out there will have your buffet or a few different a la carte restaurants that are automatically included. Then there come what's deemed as "specialty restaurants" and those are not automatically considered as included in the cruise price. The number of included places to eat to the number of at a fee places to eat number may be equal or less. Whilst at an all inclusive resort you may have an upcharge for certain things like Lobster. However, again I know of all inclusive resorts that have lobster included as well! Do you see now how All Inclusive Resort and Cruises can vary and differ even amongst each other? 

Truly, and in a manner of speaking, THIS is why you need a Travel Advisor to help you. To flesh out the very details of what's most important to you and finding the right match! It's not just about booking and being done with it.  The right match is important for a cruise or for an all inclusive or even for a simple hotel night stay (unless of course you truly do not care what you spend and what kind of stay you have so please by all means play russian roulette with your investment and emotions).

What's not included?

What's not included in a cruise are port fees and charges. If you obtain a quote, you want to make sure the quote shows this. If it does not, ask. Just like you want to see that everything is included with an all inclusive vacation most likely! Lead in rates are lead by the term lead in. Get it? The other thing that is never included in a cruise are "the" gratuities. Unless you ask for it to be! 

    Tips

Now, what are "the" gratuities you may ask and pay close attention to the "the" word here. On every single cruise you can expect to pay a daily required gratuity. The gratuity is simply not negotiable in most cases. You cannot go on board and decide how much to tip your steward based on that required gratuity. They will charge it to you regardless. Either at your choice of before, during or after your cruise. Sure, you can provide an additional tip to everyone you meet on a cruise if you want to but it does not replace the up front or on board required gratuity cost expected of most every cruise line. There are very few brands that will have all tips included. Remember when I said cruises and all inclusives can vary even amongst themselves? Well, the idea of gratuities can be similar to All inclusive resorts in a way but not every way. You can expect to pay gratuities (tips) individually at an all inclusive resort upon your own accord and the amount you tip is up to you if you so wish. There is no required gratuity rule. Perhaps an expected gratuity rule at some resorts. Be informed.  That term "if you so wish" is not part of the deal with cruises! For some All inclusive resorts, tipping can actually be discouraged (except your transfers). and can also be reasons that an employee gets fired! So while on vacation always factor in your tips, become knowledgeable about tips, how you wish to tip, and for what!  Maybe you have a preference and you'd like to tell me right up front " I want something where I don't have to worry about tips at all". Simple right?  Sure is! Just be prepared to pay whatever it will be in the difference of the trip itself. It's pretty simple to those people who book themselves on line to try and save $5. What they don't realize is... they're going to pay it anyway on the back end somewhere. 

I have customers who ask me "what should I tip?" , "Who should I tip?", etc. While I can give you hints, and give you the requirements if any exist, I cannot make your ultimate decisions for you. If you have a requirement to share with me it is my job to do my best to meet that requirement, want and need.

Alcohol

Alcohol is usually a sticking point when deciding between an all inclusive vacation vs. a cruise. I'll make it really simple in this section and tell you that on a cruise your endless intake of Alcohol is not included. At an all inclusive resort you are guaranteed an endless intake of Alcohol for the price. And again like I mentioned earlier it is possible to find that one cruise type that includes it with an additional fee tacked on through pre-cruise purchases. Just be aware of the types of alcohol that is included at either a cruise or all inclusive or even the variety of brands/types of stays. If you are the Dom Perignon or Bud-light every-night-of -the-week drinker please be up front about your requirement. I really do not want to see you disappointed. One other thing I can tell you is that no matter which you choose, alcohol selection and availability will vary. May it be by location, cruise or all inclusive type, brand, drill down, you get the idea.  So if you have preferences about alcohol here's your chance to consider it.


Options with Either

Another thing that truly amazes me about cruises and all inclusive resorts are things that no one really looks at. Not usually until they have experienced a few different cruises or all inclusive resorts they begin to catch on. The choice for their next vacation becomes a whirlwind of options and choices. Again, so why are you not using and booking with a travel advisor? 

Which place you choose is not always as important as the What you choose. I have seen cruises and all inclusive resorts both offer incredibly detailed and not so detailed butler services or pool side or beach side drink service. I have seen all inclusive resorts that offer private room service entry. Some that offer burgers and hotdogs while others that offer caviar and some that offer a mix. I have seen cruise brands that offer one style of layout for all their ships in general and rarely mix it up regardless of size in ship. I mean if you care about going through a casino to get to your restaurant that might matter to you.  I've seen all inclusive resorts with the most up to date electronics in the rooms that would make your head think of the jettisons. Say, what?! Blinds that go up and down over a window overlooking the ocean and beach next to your private oversized jetted tub. One panel that controls the degree of temperature AND the lights and you have no idea how they work much less they even existed. All inclusive resorts that have walk around service offering afternoon treats from skewered fruits to foie gras and pate to satisfy you from putting on those clothes while you bask from a beach chair. Cruises that have cushioned pool chairs to plush your bum and sooth your back vs. pool chairs that will make you go "ow". The list goes on.

One thing is certain: Time. How much time do you want to spend at your intended location? For How long? How many locations do wish to visit? What locations do you wish to visit. 

No matter what you decide to do you will need to spend time weighing it all out.  No one ever said taking a vacation was easy. Let me help you with the heavy lifting!! 

Now whether you choose between an all inclusive resort or a cruise, there is a particular kind for you in every category.