Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Comparing a Cruise to an All Inclusive Resort

The month of August was crazy for us filled with weekend trips but ending with a whopping 9 day vacation at the Wyndham Resort and Spa in Cozumel Mexico. For us this was the first time in an all inclusive resort and it was not hard to compare the experience to cruising. So that's what this is going to be all about. The compare and contrast of a typical cruise vacation to my resent resort stay.

First thing that jumped out at us was that is was "all inclusive". From a cruising experience the main difference was drinking. Drinks were flowing all week and then some at the resort. I have talked to people who said drinks are watered down and all I have to say about that is order a double. We had no problem getting strong drinks. When it came to food, of course meals are included while on a cruise as well. Now I am biased here and say that the cruise ship won this one compared to my first experience at the resort. But it may have been the resort itself. The part that hurt the Wyndham was that the menu never changes. So if you are a picky eater you may really limit your choices every night. Now the Wyndham had 4 restaurants on site but because it was "low season" many were closed nightly, they required reservations daily, and after 10pm there were no options for food.

When it comes to activities, a cruise ship has tons of options that are usually laid out in some sort of daily newspaper. The resort has many beach toys and non motorized water sports to chose from at your leisure. Our resort had an indoor theater that had shows but not to the caliber of a cruise ship. But we like to snorkel (newly found hobby) and were able to do this daily without risk of time frames which was great.

Location when it comes to vacation is a big part of everything. One of the best parts of a cruise is that you get to sample places and wake up the next day in a new place to play. One of the worst parts of a cruise is that if you fall in love with your new found place you have to say goodbye to soon. With the Resort we got to spend a lot more time exploring and finding hidden little gems that we would not have had time to when on a cruise ship. But depending on local and lifestyle that be a quick thing for some (it wasn't with us). We left our vacation after 9 days knowing we fitted all we could in and still had things we wished we could have had time for.

Tipping is a fact of life when it comes to cruising. Everyone who has been on a cruise knows the drill of the daily per person gratuities added to the room tab at the end of a cruise. All Inclusive Resorts are different. Most state that the tips were all included when you booked already. And many of those even go as far to state that it is not allowed to tip extra. The resort we were in Mexico did state tips were already included but had no rules on extra tips. We found that with some staff tipping extra did bring better service while with others it seemed as if the extra tips were expected. We even had a case where we tipped the staff that stocked our minibar fridge along with a request to get specific things. It worked for that day but for the rest of the week we got nothing almost as if we now had to pay to get our fridge filled. I don't think that the request that we had was all that extraordinary. We asked to get diet soda instead of regular and extra bottled water.

And the last thing I want to compare and contrast is the friendliness of the staff. For the most part this is a very subjective topic. Individuals can have a bad day anywhere so when I talk about friendliness of the staff, I am referring to getting answers and solutions. On our cruises we have always had good luck with the wait staff, bar staff, and hotel staff. The management (pursers desk in this case) has been hit and miss. At the resort I would have to say that it was a similar experience with wait staff. They were eager to please. Bar staff was hit and miss. Hotel staff in our case seemed to get worse as the week went on. Hotel management seemed to be disturbed when we had problems or questions, and we had more than a couple over the course of 9 days. And this was not just our experience. Other guests had major problems this week.

In all, we had a great time, and would do an all inclusive again in a heartbeat. By no means will it replace cruising for us completely. We are branching out with our vacation plans not changing them and currently we are not deep in research for the best way to do England that fits our style. When we do, and we go, you know I will talk about it here.

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