An All-Inclusive Resort vs Cruise Vacations

El Dorado Royale Swim up Suite

El Dorado Royale Swimup Suite

The growth of the all-inclusive resort scene has been substantial in both the Caribbean and in Mexico. We just returned from Karisma Resorts El Dorado Royale just south of Cancun on the Mexican Mayan Riviera and found it to be an excellent value as a restful vacation option compared to a premium cruise vacation.

The Royale features two levels of rooms, a spacious junior suite (higher priced if ocean front) and the more deluxe and larger casitas (comparable to a suite level on a cruise ship). All meals, drinks (except for wine list upgrades), tips and entertainment is included in the price. This resort featured eight different restaurant choices ranging from Asian Fusion to Italian to Caribbean, and the food was excellent at each locale. Drinks were available at many swim-up and other bars throughout the property and one bar featured nightly entertainment. The beach was not spectacular, but many covered beach lounging platforms were available and were popular with the guests. A couple of large spas (extra cost), a large gym and several small shops were spotted around the property.

Just like a cruise, side trips were available for an extra price. Some choices included swimming with the dolphins, a camel jungle safari and visits to both the Mayan seaside ruin at Tulum and the pyramid at Chichen Itza. Jet skis, scuba diving and fishing were other options available at an extra charge.

The clientele at this resort tended to be honeymooners, anniversary celebrators, international travelers (lots of Brits) and others who wanted to relax and enjoy the slow pace and warm sun of the location. One extra for honeymooners or anniversary celebrators is a romantic moonlight dinner on the beach, served in a special beachside pavilion for two with even a sax player adding atmosphere—a $140 extra. The El Dorado Royale is an adults only resort and guests must be over the age of 18, although all age levels were prevalent. Like many places in Mexico, this resort does offer time share options, but isn’t pushy in promoting this choice.

When comparing an all-inclusive with a cruise, the biggest difference is in the excitement of a new port nearly every day and the much more action-oriented onboard program while at sea. Plus, the all-inclusives do tend to be a bit more pricey than the cruise vacation. But, an all-inclusive is a great alternative for the traveler who might want a change of pace from cruising every year (or even more often).  Bottom line is that the right cruise or the right all-inclusive can deliver a great vacation—it’s a matter of personal choice.

Want to know more about premium, or luxury cruises and deluxe all-inclusives, contact Rich Skinner (, or Rich owns “Vinnie the Cruise Dog”, the world’s handsomest West Highland Terrier.


  1. says

    As much as I enjoyed the El Dorado Royale, I wouldn’t trade it for a cruise. In addition to the things you mention about cruising, Rich, for me there is something particularly magical about sailing away in the sunset while bidding farewell to the crowd left behind on the pier and musing about adventures to come on faraway islands.

  2. says

    Yes there are many similarities between a cruise ship vacation and a all-inclusive resort vacation, but the biggest difference I think is as you mentioned the excitement of a new port!

  3. Carolyn says

    Hi to the cruise knowledgeable,

    My sister and I were thinking of a cruise until we started to research them. We have become gun shy when we read stuff about overboards, ship wrecks, child abuse etc not to mention weather conditions. They also don’t offer alcohol in their all inclusives like certain resorts do. Yet we both loved the idea of landing at various ports and enjoying a balcony. We are both in our mid sixties and don’t relish being around a lot of kids. Can anyone comment on these concerns of ours.

    • says


      Thank you for commenting on CruiseSource!

      On Twitter, ABCnews 20/20 tweeted us to let us know that cruising was 8 times safer than crossing the street in New York City. Link:

      I just returned today from a cruise where we took my 4 year old daughter on her first cruise.
      Here is a post about taking her on her first cruise:

      I truly believe that cruising is the safest way to travel.

      Celebrity Cruise Lines offers All-U-Can-Drink Packages, that I fully recommend. The luxury cruise lines like Regent Cruise Lines also offer Free Alcohol, Free Airfare, Free Hotels, Free excursions to offer a truly all-inclusive experience.

      If you’d like to avoid kids on your cruise vacation, I recommend cruising when the kids are in school. The rates are lower and there will not be many kids. Also look to cruise on Celebrity, Holland America, or Princess Cruise Lines to avoid large crowds of kids.

      Thank you,
      Rich Tucker


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *