BY: AMANDA STANCATI
Everyone’s travel style is different. If you’re stuck between two options, we can help you decide which one is best.
Cruise vs all-inclusive vacation
For sun-seekers, both cruises and all-inclusive resorts provide a relaxing escape and beautiful surroundings, but there are key differences to help you decide between them. If your vacation checklist simply includes pool time, a good book, and some R&R, an all-inclusive vacation may be for you. If you tend to get bored on a resort and prefer to sightsee and partake in activities, you may be better suited for a cruise. Cruises are not always as expensive as people think; sometimes they can cost the same as a resort getaway, depending on your budget.
Cruises are known for their excellent entertainment and nightlife on board, from casinos and discos to comedy shows and jazz bars — and even award-winning musicals that rival those on Broadway — not to mention their outstanding food and drinks. Plus, they appeal to multi-generational vacations, making them a great choice for families and large groups, especially if there are plenty of kids and teens. Cruises are great for those traveling alone (you may find options without single supplements), those with dietary, mobility or medical issues, and those who prefer a more active vacation: waking up in a new place each day combined with the hustle and bustle of life onboard. On the other hand, those seeking a quieter, more intimate vacation may opt for a smaller hotel property instead.
Ocean cruise vs river cruise
When deciding between an ocean cruise or river cruise, it’s all about the ports. River cruising is a more luxurious and romantic way to travel to experience natural beauty, historic sites, and cultural experiences. River cruises use smaller ships to navigate smaller cities. Destinations range from busy city centers like Budapest, Paris, and Amsterdam to picturesque villages. You’re never far from land on a river cruise so you can soak up the scenic views from the comfort of the ship. Shore excursions are typically included and encourage you to experience local living. There are usually no “days at river” like the days at sea you typically see on an ocean cruise.
Life onboard is quieter, with a focus on gourmet meals and local wines, workshops and lectures, personalized service, and only a few hundred passengers compared to over a thousand on ocean cruises. River cruises typically attract an older crowd and lack the extravagant amenities and entertainment emphasized on ocean liners. Instead, think cocktail parties and bikes for rent. If you want to bring the kids along, there aren’t many entertainment options on board a river cruise. Ocean cruises excel in family vacations, with loads of space, activities, and amenities to enjoy. If you’re looking for a high-energy vacation over a cultural one, ocean cruises offer more activities and amenities onboard and a more lively atmosphere – not to mention you can cruise the Mediterranean’s sunny waters.
Guided tour vs independent travel
The style you choose to explore Europe and other parts of the world comes down to personal preference. Guided (also known as escorted) bus tours are popular because they are easy to plan and offer peace of mind. When you book an organized tour, your itinerary is planned out for you by experts. Your transportation between cities, accommodation, and typically some meals, activities, and excursions are included (this is useful for skip-the-line admission tickets into top attractions!). If you don’t have a lot of time to plan, a guided tour gives you a good overview of your destination, but at a quicker pace. You can choose itineraries catered to different interests like food, adventure, or budget. You’ll be accompanied by a knowledgeable guide to recommend the best places to explore.
A self-guided tour requires more effort to organize but you are less restricted. There is no schedule. If you want to bring your kids too, it really depends on their style. Can you picture them sitting quietly on a bus tour, eagerly listening to the history of their surroundings? Or are they more active? The focus is on you and your family. Sleep in, explore at your leisure and linger in a place if you really like it. There is no one telling you to move on or risk missing your ride.