Choosing the Right Caribbean Vacation
There is no better way to relax and unwind than a Caribbean vacation. The region is the number one place that people from the U.S. think of when you say vacation. There’s lots of great reasons for that. Palm trees, beautiful white sand beaches and the clear waters are just a few. With so many choices it can be difficult to plan your vacation. Both cruises and all-inclusive resorts are great options. Each choice has its upside and downside. To help you decide, we’ve put the two one-on-one in several categories.
Beach Time on your Caribbean Vacation
When I say “beach vacation” what is the first thing that pops in to your mind?
Do you think of lounging the days away and listening to the waves? Swimming and snorkeling enter the picture? What about long walks on the beach? If that is what enters your mind, then an all-inclusive resort vacation might be the right choice. Destinations like Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Mexico are home to stunning resorts. Most of which are set on beautiful beaches. When choosing your perfect resort, make sure there is plenty of beach room- so you’re not rushing to reserve chairs early in the morning!
Cruise vacations don’t mean that there is no time at the beach. They just mean that you have to plan your beach time. You’ll need to find a local beach club (I recommend Mr. Sanchos when in Cozumel). Then you have to find a taxi to take you there. Also, make sure you leave the beach in enough time to get back to the ship! Don’t end up YouTube famous like these people!
Winner: All-Inclusive Resort Vacations
Island Hopping & Exploring During Your Caribbean Vacation
Cruise vacations in the Caribbean are a great way to visit lots of historic and exotic places without a lot of hassle. If you’ve never been to the Caribbean, a cruise is a great chance to get a taste of several spots. Then, head back to the ship in time for dinner. A Caribbean cruise vacation is a great way to check destinations off your list. Then the fun begins when you start to decide which ones you want to come back to! If this all sounds exhausting, then settling in at a resort for an all-inclusive resort vacation is a better choice for you.
Winner: Cruise Vacations
Food & Drink on Your Caribbean Vacation
In the past, cruise vacations didn’t consist of much variety for food and drinks. Cruise lines have stepped up the food and drink game- with more options and higher quality choices. While most food on a ship is included in your fare, there are other options that require a cover charge. Also cruises tend to charge extra for drinks- even for soda and coffees. If you’ve never cruised before, make sure you understand what food and drink is included and what costs extra.
In this category, you’ll see that all-inclusive is more than a clever name. While the selection varies by the level of resort, you’ll have plenty of things to eat and drink- and they are all included in your price. Even things like alcohol are included in your vacation cost. Be sure to research what each resort has to offer- as selection and quality can vary. Another point for the resorts are the ability to leave and sample the local fare.
Winner: All-Inclusive Vacations
Activities for Your Caribbean Vacation
Cruise lines have a wide range of activities both on and off the ship. Things like movies, exercise classes, live shows, trivia and karaoke are all available. When in port, you can go on shore excursions to sample local culture, or feed your sense of adventure. You have opportunities to do things like zip-lining, parasailing, and even swimming with the pigs in the Bahamas. Modern cruise ships are always racing to have the next “first ________ at sea“. If you like to plan, the most popular excursions and activities tend to fill up and are best booked before getting onboard.
All-inclusive activities focus on spending time at the resort. Non-motorized water sports (like paddleboarding) lead the way. You can also rent bicycles, play beach volleyball and much more. You’ll want to check out online listings before you go to make sure there will be something you enjoy. Like their cruise brethren, the resorts will put out a daily schedule of activities. There are off-resort activities like deep sea fishing that can be booked at the concierge desk. Unlike cruises, these can usually be scheduled when you are at the resort. You can get settled in and then plan.
Staying Connected on Your Caribbean Vacation
While both resorts and cruises offer wi-fi, it is best to check with the company in advance to make sure it will meet your needs. All-inclusive resorts tend to offer faster and more stable connectivity options. The cruise ship being at sea means they rely on satellites to provide internet. Internet on a cruise can be hit or miss due to being in constant motion. Internet on a cruise can be costly. Make sure you switch your phone to airplane mode until you decide how connected you want to be. You don’t want to incur charges until you know what each resort or cruise line offers. Many carriers offer a cruise talk, text and data plan. Even better, take the opportunity to unplug and enjoy spending time with your friends and family.
Hurricane Season Interrupting Your Caribbean Vacation
Running from June through November, hurricane season in the Caribbean can ruin a vacation fast. Of course cruise lines and resorts know this and will run specials to entice you to book. On a cruise, the likelihood of a tropical storm impacting your vacation is pretty low. While the ships are large, they do move. This means that if a storm is headed in the ships direction, they can steer away from it. If they have to change ports, the cruise lines will issue refunds for port fees that are skipped as a result of the changes. Though they can steer clear of the worst, if you are prone to seasickness, you may want to pack some remedies.
All-inclusive resorts offer very attractive off-season rates with less crowds during hurricane season. If this sounds appealing, make sure to look at the resort hurricane policies. This is also one of the reasons you should always book travel insurance. Check your plan’s coverage as not all of them include coverage for weather related events. If you want to have a better shot at avoiding stormy weather, go a little further south. Places like Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao aren’t in the hurricane belt.