Los Angeles Hotels Blog

August 13, 2010

Which makes for a better overall vacation experience, all inclusive or not?

I reluctantly vote for the all-inclusive, because most of our travels lately have been aboard cruises, and all have been very enjoyable. When we first retired, we were in our still-vigorous 60s, and it was often fun to fly to a foreign destination, rent a hotel room and, on our own independent schedule, make our own way around the area to find food, sights and entertainment.

We’ve done it dozens of times, including several leisurely hike and bus trips through Europe. Our only baggage then was a wheeled carry-on and a small backpack each. With a well-thumbed guidebook and absolutely no schedule, we stopped at bed’n'breakfasts, ate in small, out-of-the-way cafes and did whatever we felt like doing at the moment. For two people doing such free roaming from age 65 to 80, it may seem an impossible feat to younger travelers, but we had a blast, and we’ve never regretted it.

However, as enjoyable as that was, we are now into our 80s, and we’re pretty much limited to cruises. Since retiring, we cruised once a year just for the variety from the free trek travels. Whether all-exclusive cruises are always a better overall vacation experience, that’s a matter of personal taste, convenience and other factors. We can only speak about here and now for we advanced senior citizens.

Best of all, it is a hell of a lot more convenient to take a cruise. You pay one price, you lug your luggage up the gangway, go to your cabin and that’s the extent of your travel efforts. After that, everything is just steps away. Additionally, while frugal hikers and hostel bunkers can get along spending less than $100 a day per person, most land vacations involving paying separately for restaurants, hotels and all the other expenses could cost $300 a day and up. Now, with worldwide inflation running wild and the American dollar falling hard, the costs of buying it all separately keep going up and up and up and up.

If you can be thorough in researching prices and destinations of cruises, either through the internet or with your friendly neighborhood travel agency, you can still get some great bargains. My son and I are planning a four-night round-trip cruise out of Los Angeles to Acapulco, Mexico, in the Fall. It had to be just a few days because my son has never cruised before, and wants to be sure he enjoys it (and keeps his dinner down) before committing to a more ambitious trip.

By studying the various internet sites, the best price I’ve found so far … Fall prices are the lowest … is $450 for an oceanview cabin or $650 for a balcony suite. Remember: this includes everything … fresh bed every night, all meals, snacks, dancing, drinks (we don’t drink booze), entertainment, sports, games and a jillion other amenities. If we take the cabin, it is a bit over $100 a day, or $150 for the more luxurious suite. You just can’t beat the price and convenience of an all-inclusive cruise, especially if you’re too old and/or too lazy to bounce around wherever you please with your trusty carry-on and knapsack.

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