Any vacation should be a chance to unwind, enjoy great service, sample local food, and explore new cultures. But how do you pick your destination and accommodation to make this dream come true?
Perhaps you want to unwind on a beach, barely leaving your hammock for a week other than to reach for a fresh piña colada. Or maybe you want the luxury of exploring a different beach every day, and seeing the world at the same time, with a luxurious floating resort as your home.
When it comes to an all-inclusive resort vs. a cruise as a vacation choice, it’s a matter of personal preference. But before you choose, make sure you’ve weighed up all the pros and cons. Here are some points to consider.
If you’re staying in an all-inclusive resort, it will by nature be located somewhere beautiful, usually a beach on a tropical island or shoreline. If you’ve chosen well, it will be tastefully designed and spacious, probably reflecting the local architectural style.
But if you’ve opted for a cruise, what can you expect? If you’ve never cruised before, you may be surprised.
Put any preconceptions aside and prepare to be wowed. Top architects and interior designers from all over the world have contributed to the design of the world’s best cruise ships.
Celebrity’s cruise ships are chic resorts at sea that embody the concept of Relaxed Luxury℠. Every space has been thoughtfully curated, and every area of the ship is individually beautiful.
On Celebrity Cruises’ newest Edge-series ships, for example, you’ll find the serene spaces of The Retreat®, as well as the gorgeous spa designed by award-winning British designer Kelly Hoppen, CBE and a leafy Rooftop Garden and striking pool area by Tom Wright of WKK, whose projects include some of the world’s most lavish hotels.
The elegant Grand Plaza bears the hallmarks of Jouin Manku, whose interiors include high-end boutiques, ultra-luxe hotels, spas, and some of the world’s finest restaurants.
As for the location; there is no location, because on a cruise, you wake up to a different view every day. You could be anchored beneath the towering cliffs and snow-white villages of Santorini, Greece, or the brilliant aquamarine seas and sandy beaches of Bimini, in the Bahamas. Every day is a new adventure.
If you take a vacation in an all-inclusive resort, chances are that you’ll want to relax by the pool or on the beach every day. Perhaps you’ll make one or two forays “outside” to explore the island or coastline that you’ve chosen.
But essentially, the whole point is to stay put, enjoy cocktails by the pool, perhaps play with the water toys, stroll on the beach, and enjoy the facilities of the resort.
If your curiosity extends further than the pool and the beach, a luxury cruise could offer the best of both worlds.
In the space of one voyage, you could experience the thrill of visiting eight different destinations, whether you pick the Caribbean, Alaska, Asia, or the Mediterranean.
And in between your time ashore, exploring new cultures, taking in museums, browsing markets, or enjoying the great outdoors on a string of gorgeous beaches, there’s plenty of opportunity on board for deep relaxation.
Toast the sunset from a hot tub on deck, take up your position by the pool where you can sip, swim, and snooze on repeat. Or relax on your private balcony, a peaceful spot on which to commune with the sea, spot pods of dolphins, or watch the sparkling skyline fade into dusk as your ship steams on to the next port.
Read: What Deck Is Best on a Cruise Ship?
All travel can be enriching if you want it to be. If you stay in an all-inclusive resort, you’ll certainly have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture, although the temptation to do very little may be overwhelming.
If you’re visiting new places and would like the best cultural experiences curated for you, then a cruise could be the answer. Don’t imagine that shore excursions offered by cruise lines merely scratch the surface of a destination. Nowadays, shore excursions embrace activities for every taste.
Small group discoveries which might include a pasta-making class in the Italian countryside, or an exclusive boat trip to Capri’s shimmering Blue Grotto.
You could find yourself spotting whales up close with an expert in Alaska, and then enjoying a salmon bake in a forest clearing, or exploring the exquisite temples of Kyoto, Japan.
Or perhaps you’d prefer a private tour, or an exclusive activity for your own group. Anything is possible and on a cruise, you’ll have access to planners who are experts in the destinations you are visiting.
Weather and Climate
If you’ve chosen high season for your resort stay, the weather should be reliable. But if you’ve opted to travel in the shoulder seasons, you may need to prepare for some inclement weather.
A long run of bad weather would be extremely unlucky, but do bear in mind that your options may be limited if you’re on a tropical beach somewhere and it rains for a week.
Of course, rain isn’t much fun on a cruise, either, but there are advantages to having a floating base. First, ships can move away from seriously bad weather, but less dramatically, would normally set sail in the evening for the next port, which could be bathed in sunshine.
Cruises also take you to ports where there’s plenty to do, so you’d always have wet weather options if the worst happened.
Food and Drink
Gourmet travelers will be astonished at the quality and variety of the restaurants on board today’s most luxurious ships. On Celebrity’s elegant ships, you’ll have the choice of up to 12 dining venues, with globally-inspired menus made from scratch by a brigade of more than 200 chefs.
Whether you’re in the mood for fresh sushi, modern Italian, French classics or lighter, plant-based options, there will be a restaurant to suit your tastes. Pick a favorite and eat there every night—or dine your way around the world during the course of a week.
On Celebrity Beyond, don’t miss the chance to savor some of the finest cuisine at sea in Le Voyage, the first seagoing venture by Celebrity’s Global Culinary Ambassador, Daniel Boulud.
Wines, meanwhile, come from a cellar so impressive that Celebrity has won the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for 10 consecutive years.
Dining in the best all-inclusive resorts is also typically good, usually featuring a range of local ingredients. You may just not get the variety of styles that you’d find on a luxury cruise.
Where You’ll Stay
There’s a wide choice of accommodations on board to suit every style, with many staterooms enjoying blissful private space and sea breezes on a wide veranda.
Staterooms on modern cruise ships are cleverly designed to maximize space. There are all kinds of options, too; you could, for example, choose a suite or stateroom with exclusive access to specialty restaurants, or to areas of the spa.
For the ultimate in seagoing luxury, opt for The Retreat, a serene experience which brings you a beautiful, contemporary suite, a tranquil lounge, exclusive sunbathing space, and intimate dining in the stylish Luminae at The Retreat.
You’ll be surprised by the suites on Celebrity’s ships; light-filled Edge Villas come with duplex accommodation and a private plunge pool, while Iconic Suites have uninterrupted ocean views, outdoor hot tubs, exquisite artwork and design details, and butler service.
While the best all-inclusive resorts are known for their accommodations, the style will vary dramatically between location and resort. With a resort, you might have to make a hard choice between the type of accommodation you’re looking for and the destination you choose.
Fitness and Wellbeing
Any vacation is a chance to invest in your well-being, recharge your batteries, indulge in blissful spa treatments, and focus on health. There are opportunities to do this whether you pick an all-inclusive resort or a luxurious cruise ship.
Even though land-based resorts have more physical space to play with than cruise ships, the spas on contemporary ships are extraordinary.
Treatments are inspired by the destinations the ships visit, while every space is designed to melt away your cares, from the hammam and salt room in the SEA Thermal Suite to cocooning hanging basket chairs in the Float Room. There’s nothing to beat a dreamy sea, view, too, as you sink back onto a heated lounger after a blissful spa treatment.
Celebrity’s ships take wellness to a new level in AquaClass®, staterooms that focus on wellbeing, with a cashmere mattress, yoga mat, access to fitness classes and the SEA Thermal suite, and exclusive dining in Blu, a restaurant featuring delicious clean cuisine.
New, wellness-inspired Aqua Sky Suites offer even more space, with the same inclusions as AquaClass as well as all the amenities of The Retreat.
Working on your fitness is fun whether you’ve chosen an all-inclusive resort or a cruise. Try all the different classes on offer, jog on the beach, and play with the water toys.
On a cruise, you can book shore excursions that focus on fitness, from hiking and kayaking to cycling tours. You’ll also find state-of-the-art classes on board, from F45 to Peloton stationary bikes. Or, stay active by playing different types of sports, like bocce or pickleball.
Either a seaside resort stay or a cruise present a chance to commune with the sea, an activity that’s meditative and soothing in itself. It’s just a matter of whether you want to watch the ocean from the beach, or from your private balcony miles away at sea, or both.
Read: Best Activities on a Cruise Ship for All Ages
Evening entertainment in all-inclusive resorts tends to focus on local bands, maybe some dancing, maybe a quiz show or two, and almost certainly, more opportunity to enjoy the free-flowing cocktails.
The entertainment on board a cruise ship is considerably more cutting-edge; this is one instance in the cruises vs. resorts decision where the ship wins hands-down.
For singers, dancers, and performers, working on a luxury cruise line and traveling the world is highly prestigious. As such, cruise lines have the pick of high-caliber entertainers, and some of the best producers and directors in the business.
The theaters on modern cruise ships are better equipped and more high-tech than many venues you’d find on Broadway, or in London’s West End, too.
The shows on a cruise ship include everything from dazzling contemporary circus to heart-stopping singing and dancing, using groundbreaking technology.
Or perhaps you prefer DJ sets, or live jazz in an intimate club, or all the fun of a silent disco. You’ll find it all on a cruise ship—and you can try it all in one night if you want to.
Both cruises and all-inclusive resorts offer a range of daytime activities. These might range from quizzes to wine-tasting sessions, and fun competitions for all the family.
Both land-based resorts and cruise ships offer kids’ clubs, with cruise lines having some of the most highly-awarded youth programs in the industry for kids from tots up to teens.
Service should be impeccable whether you choose a luxury resort or a high-end cruise ship. Arguably, the service on ships has the edge as cruise lines can pick the best talent from all over the world. Resorts rely more on a local pool of workers.
It’s really a personal choice; getting to know the locals who look after you in your resort, or forming a bond with the skilled international crew on board a ship. One thing’s for sure: if you choose a ship, the service will be impressively attentive, not least because Celebrity has a guest-to-staff ratio of nearly two to one.
Ready to explore some of the options for your dream vacation? Browse Celebrity’s itineraries and find the perfect cruise for you and your family.