Friday, September 2, 2011

Travel Tips: Cruising vs. Resorts

So much world, so little time. Whether throughout the U.S. or around the globe, traveling is right up there on my list of life’s best and most treasured experiences.

Growing up in a blue collar family, trips were often few and far between, but with each visit to Disneyland, San Diego or the Grand Canyon, my childhood mind would quietly dream of the day I’d set off on grand adventures all my own. And set off I have, each childhood memory making me value and appreciate my ability to travel as an adult even more.

Since I met and married Stephen, we’ve taken several amazing trips together, including cruises to Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama and Hawaii. Our recent trip to St. Maarten was nothing short of fabulous, and we hope to keep adding to our list in the coming years with visits to Alaska, Egypt, Greece and New Orleans, just to name a few.

One thing our most recent trip made me consider is the difference between cruising and staying at a resort, which both offer very different, yet uniquely exciting, experiences. After trying and enjoying both options, the two of us put together a list of two top things we love most about each type of travel.

Wind-blown while sailing to the Caribbean in 2008. 

* Value – As much as we enjoyed our resort experience, we can’t deny the fact that cruising still seems to offer the most bang for our buck in many cases. Not only are most meals included in the base price of a cruise, which can sometimes be the same or lower than the cost for a resort stay of equivalent length, but they are also usually all-you-can-eat. While we were incredibly fortunate that our hotel stay in St. Maarten was complimentary, we spent a significant amount of money for meals on-site, many of which were good but not quite on par with those we’ve enjoyed on our cruises. The resort also lacked as much variety in the number of restaurants and food options to choose from.

We also spent a good deal on cab fare throughout the week, since the secluded location of the resort made it difficult to get to the starting point for many of our excursions, to restaurants or to other places around the island. (The hilly terrain and narrow roads left us too uncomfortable to rent a car on our own.) On a cruise, transportation to and from excursions is often provided, and many ships dock at a central location, where it's easy to get off and walk to shops and restaurants, albeit touristy ones. 

* Variety – Cruising gives you the ability to visit a number of different locations during one trip without paying for extra airfare or dealing with the hassle of traveling from place to place on your own. The thought of going to sleep in one country and waking up in another with no work on your end is definitely exciting! 

The Westin St. Maarten, a blissful place to kick back. 

* In-Depth Exploring – Staying in one place for a few days gives you the chance to see more and learn more about a certain island or location, as opposed to the typical day or mere few hours you might get via a cruise ship stop. You’ll have more time to head off the beaten path and enjoy local attractions you might not get to experience within the more heavily “packaged” experience of a cruise.

* More Downtime – Being in one place for an entire week made it easier for us to relax, compared to our Hawaiian cruise, when we were in a different port each day and eager to explore. As on-the-go tourists who like to pack in a lot of activities, that style suits us overall, but being in a place that forced us to take a more relaxed approach ended up being an unexpected plus. Kicking back with cabana-side margaritas and spicy tuna sushi rolls? Yes, please! 

How about you? Do you usually go for cruises, resorts or something else, and do you prefer one type of travel over the other?


  1. I've never been on a real cruise. I did get a 3 hour cruise on a smaller cruise ship when we went to the Bahamas (that's how we got there from Miami). I wouldn't mind going on one eventually though when I go on vacation I'm more of a relax by the beach/pool then constant explorer type so resorts fit me well.

  2. i love them both but i think i prefer resorts

  3. Great points. I see both as "vacationing" not traveling so I prefer a cruise since I think you really get the most bang for your buck.

    My honest preference is staying at one place for a week but not on a resort - I'm just not a resort girl :(

  4. I've never been on a cruise, and I've only stayed in a nice resort once on a college graduation trip to Cabo San Lucas. I didn't travel too much before I met my husband, but he introduced me to a new way of traveling, which was to find medium-priced hotels in different cities listed in the Lonely Planet guidebooks. It has worked so well for us - the best was the cabin right on the beach in Cahuita, Cosat Rica that was only $60/night. We like adventure, so it's fun to switch locales every three days or so. Most of our trips abroad include at least three destinations within the country we are located. One of these days, I'd like to try a cruise or resort again, just because they would force me to have some downtime ;)

  5. I love cruising and I can't wait to go again - it's so easy and I know it will be just as easy when we have kids!

  6. i've never been on a cruise. i want to sometime though. they sound like SO much fun! i'm going to my first resort though on our honeymoon. should be lots of fun.

  7. Love your windblown hair!
    I'm so afraid to take a cruise... I don't like being "stuck" anywhere. I do travel more often now that we're older as well. I loved Disney when I was traveling with my family though!

  8. I've never been on a cruise but would love to try it out. I would love to try it to be able to visit a lot o places at once. Some day!

    Chic 'n Cheap Living

  9. Traveling is my biggest passion! I just love it.. Your first sentence is something I say a lot :)

  10. I went on my first cruise in May and I loved it! I have not been to an all-inclusive resort yet, but would love to try that also some time. What I did love about the cruise was being able to try out a variety of new places and then I can determine if I want to go back and stay for a week at a resort.

  11. We've done both a few times. I'd def agree with you that crusing is definitely the better value, although I have gotten a little stir crazy on the ship and just wanted to get off and walk. I do love resorts too though, being waited on hand and foot, etc. I think for me, just being on vacation is what I love the most!!

  12. oh man this is so timely! We are planning a trip to Cancun and makign the exact same guys are so smart to travel TONS while you are young! We did a lot, but always wished we had done MORE!

  13. i've never been on a cruise, but would love to go on one. especially since there are lots of sites to see :)

  14. I've never been on a cruise and I'm a little nervous to because I've felt motion-sick on boats and in cars/buses before so I worry that I'll end up feeling sick the whole time! Maybe one day I'll try a short cruise to see how I feel. I love resorts though. I went to one all-inclusive resort in Jamaica and it was amazing.


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