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All-inclusive means good travel

Updated on July 16, 2013
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What are people talking about?

Maybe you have heard a friend, co-worker or family member mention a great all-inclusive trip to Mexico they had but you aren't sure what they were talking about. You certainly aren't alone! Hopefully the information below will cover what you need to know for a good traveling experience

Whether it's a honeymoon, family get away, looking to party or quiet retreat, there is an all-inclusive resort just right for you.

See why an all-inclusive concept is superior to the pay as you go option, and see the difference between the inclusions of a cruise versus an all-inclusive resort.

Going hungry....not possible!

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A bountiful variety at a lunch buffet

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An Elegant dining experience

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No pulling out your wallet, just say thank you!

The first time I stayed at an all-inclusive property, it felt very odd at first. My husband and I had gone to Jamaica and stayed at Couples Swept Away which is in Negril.

After checking into our room, the first thing we did was make reservations at one of the nicer restaurants on the property. Reservations are required usually for the gourmet and specialty restaurants so make sure you are aware so you don't miss out on a great dining experience, (they typically have limited seating and book up quickly). Most all-inclusive properties have a minimum of four restaurants and some, like Sandals for instance, allow you to eat at one of their other properties as well, which can bring your restaurant options up to ten or more to choose from!

When we were seated that evening at the restaurant the waiter (in white gloves) handed us a menu which had a wide variety of appetizers, soups, salads, main entrees and deserts to choose from. It was just amazing to order each course along with a bottle of wine to enjoy with our dinner and know there would be no bill delivered when we were finished. The atmosphere was upscale and elegant, a true feeling of pampering. After a wonderfully satisfying meal we thanked our waiter and off we went.

The next morning we ate at a huge breakfast buffet (although we also had a choice of an a la carte breakfast at another restaurant which we ate at the following day).

All properties have a bar grill or snack area where you can get nachos, burgers, etc most of the day.

As each day went by we tried another place to have lunch and dinner. It's fun to experience the different cuisine each property offers. They always have a restaurant with local fare such as in Jamaica you will find a restaurant specializing in Jamaican or Rastafarians foods like jerk chicken, Ackee and Salt fish, Jamaican patties etc. They also all have a buffet for breakfast, lunch and usually even dinner as well as several more choices like Italian, Mexican and Chinese to name a few.

No claustrophobic safety drills

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Standing room only in a cruise ship pool

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Instead swim up to the bar for a cocktail..free

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Room service...yes, but on your large resort balcony on in a small cabin?

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A cruise versus all inclusive

There are people who love to cruise and that's fine. They love the open seas and moving from place to place. In areas of the world where all-inclusive packages are not an option then cruising could be a good choice. Personally though, I feel cruises are too restrictive. The rooms are small (restrictive), the pool is small, drinks are limited, (a charge for alcoholic beverages and cola drinks go on your room account, or you can pre-pay for a cola package on some cruise lines). Meal times, although getting better on some cruise lines, are time restrictive by having to choose between an early or late seating which you then are locked into. There are additional taxes not included in the advertized cruise price as well as expected tips to pay on the last day. Although you do travel to different destinations on each cruise itinerary, the time spent at port is so limited you often are rushed to accomplish one excursion before you have be on board the ship again, (and go through security each time). It takes more then a few hours to get a good feel of the area or the people.

Although the basic cruise price can be quite alluring, the bill on the last day can be quite a shocker...... "No way did I have that many cocktails, not to mention the four pictures the photographer took around the ship plus the three excursions, and, ah crumb.....now I have tips to pay as well!"

What an all-inclusive has over a cruise:

  1. Larger rooms, most with balconies
  2. Much larger bathrooms
  3. All drinks including alcohol and colas
  4. Tips and taxes
  5. Meals any time you choose with many options for dining
  6. Non-motorized water sports like canoes, hobby cats, snorkeling gear (each property has different options, but all include some. See below for more info.
  7. Land activities such as tennis, and racquet ball
  8. No sea sickness
  9. Beautiful, manicured grounds
  10. No crowded feeling
  11. Time for more exploring and getting to know the culture better
  12. No security checks before or after a tour excursion


What water activities are offered?

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Do you like to golf?

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Don't worry about a thing

One day we took a Catamaran cruise, another day went golfing...everything included! Couples Resorts in Jamaica have a lot of extra types of excursions included that you don't usually get at most all-inclusive resorts, but sometimes a wholesaler such as GOGO Worldwide Vacations will add in specials exclusively when booking through their company. As an example GOGO has what's called "My Time" which, when certain all-inclusive's are booked, additional inclusions such as golf at the Majestic Colonial in Dominican Republic are included. Each property offered in the "My Time" package has it's own unique "My Time" inclusions. GOGO only works with travel agents though so call your local travel agent or you can check out my article on traveling which not only gives you tips on traveling, but also has a link to two great experienced agents ready to help you.

I wish this type of vacation was an option everywhere, alas, the all-inclusive concept works best only in certain parts of the world. The lion share of all-inclusive properties are in the Caribbean and Mexico. Although a few properties have tried it in the Hawaiian Islands, it has not proven cost effective.

When you talk to your travel agent she/he can find the one right for you and your budget. You will definitely want to package your trip with airfare as well as transfers (transportation to and from the airport). Be sure to set your transfers when booking your trip. This way, not only will that wallet stay put when you get there, but there will be no confusion when you leave the airport baggage area as there are many pushy vendors that will otherwise try to sell you transfers and more! Just know the name of the transfer company you are looking for as there always are representatives with signs or booths to take care of you.

Tailor made vacation

Decide on which suits your tastes better, a tropical Caribbean getaway or maybe a Mexican destination rich in historic Mayan ruins like Cancun. Choose what you'd like included. Did you want to golf or have scuba diving included? If a particular excursion is not available as part of the all-inclusive price, the tour can be pre-paid before you go if you'd prefer. What price are you looking at spending? When you have an idea then call your travel agent. They have the resources to give you a tailor made trip of a lifetime, an all-inclusive means good, no, great travel!

Take me away, Swept Away!

Were you aware of the all-inclusive concept?

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    • New Understanding profile image
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      New Understanding 4 years ago from Northern California

      Thanks Jean. Yes some cruises have worked on dining options which is a good thing, but with so many people now on a cruise ship (2000+), and such a few options for dining areas they have to manage it somehow which means delegating time frames for the passengers.

      Grand Pineapple is nice! Still managed by Sandals, so you know quality is good, and nothing is better then Negril beaches. Thanks for your personal experience between the two.

    • Jean Bakula profile image

      Jean Bakula 4 years ago from New Jersey

      I vacationed in Negril, Jamaica 4 times with family, our first all inclusive experience. It's so lovely there. We used GoGo travel too, and they were great. We stayed at what was then Negril Gardens, and is now Grand Pineapple, but love small, out of the way places. Once you arrive, the van takes you to the hotel, you eat and drink for free, and it's all beautiful.

      We've been on one cruise, and although I liked it, there are drawbacks, as you mention. There is so much to do you don't spend much time in the room, and it is clever how they manage to use all the space so you have what you need. Norwegian has Freestyle cruising, so you can eat meals whenever you want, and don't get stuck at a table with people you may not like. You don't even have to do a formal dress night if you don't want, though they offer 2 during a one week cruise for those who like that sort of thing. The shore excursions are very expensive, almost $100 a person, and likely one of the reasons you chose that particular cruise, so you spend a lot, and the ship isn't responsible if your plans don't work out, it's really up to you. Also, I don't drink alcohol, and buying bottled water for me and a moderate amount of drinks for my husband led to a $1,000 bar bill. Not kidding. Our son was 16 and also came, I was uncomfortable with leaving him home when we were out of the country, and he was drinking water and soda too. I get seasick, but wore a patch and that was fine, though I can't understand people who say you can't even feel the ship move. I was rolling into my husband and holding onto the rails in the halls the whole time. So I guess it depends if I would ever go on another cruise. The all inclusive in Jamaica or anyplace else beats it all when it comes to price!