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Cruise Diva's FOCUS is on
A Cruise vs. Resort Cost Comparison

by Linda Coffman

Land or Sea... Which will it be?
Compare cruise costs to a resort vacationPerhaps the next question should be, "Which will be kinder to my vacation budget?" Many would-be cruise passengers are often surprised to discover a cruise isn't as costly as they perceived. Add to that the fact that cruises are less expensive today than when I booked my first one in the late-1980s and a sea going vacation is a bargain.

But don't take my word for it, let's crunch some numbers. Imagine that I'm contemplating a short vacation get-away and want the best value for my money. For a four-night jaunt, Paradise Island in the Bahamas is a popular destination and I've chosen a sprawling resort complex to weigh against an average contemporary style cruise. With so many seasonal price variations to deal with, I've selected averages to get an overall feel for comparison

Even modest rooms for two average a whopping $400 per night in the hotel's "moderate" accommodations. Meals aren't included, so I've selected a dining plan that includes a full American breakfast and dinner, which I can enjoy at my choice of a variety of on site restaurants. But I still have to pay additional for lunch. The dining plan is $59 per person, per day, plus an automatic 15% gratuity. Add in a light lunch and meals will cost $200 per day for me and my husband. So far, just a room and meals total up to $2,400. Not included is round-trip transportation between the airport and the resort, nor is muchif anythingelse. For evening entertainment, if we want to do anything more than walk on the beach, stroll the grounds, or watch television, we'll have to pay admissions for shows and, possibly, cover charges for lounges.

Even before I compute the basic fare, a cruise is beginning to look like a great deal because of the available amenities—all meals and snacks (including standard beverages), games and activities, parties, evening entertainment, and sports and fitness activities. My contemporary cruise to the Bahamas will cost $950 per person, including port charges and taxes.

That $1,450 difference in the base price goes a long way on a cruise toward extras: shore excursions, drink purchases, spa services, souvenirs, and other things that aren't included, such as Bingo and a bit of casino action. At the resort, you'd still have to pay additional for those.

I haven't taken airfare or vehicle rentals into consideration; however, you can compute your own total cost using the following chart. Fill in the blanks based on your personal choices for accommodations and add-ons. 


Cruise Vacation

Resort Vacation

Cruise Fare


Included $
from port to port


Ground Transfers
Vehicle Rental
Shore Tours
$ $


Breakfast Included $
Lunch Included $
Dinner Included $
Buffets/Snacks Included $


Sports Activities Included $
Parties Included $
Entertainment Included $
Dancing/Discos Included $
Nightclubs/Shows Included $
Travel Insurance



For an even bigger surprise, compare the cost of high-end luxury cruises with suite accommodations at a super-deluxe resort. On some luxury cruise lines, for instance Silversea Cruises, Seabourn Cruise Line, and Regent Seven Sea Cruises, even MORE is included in the base fare. Complimentary stocked in-suite mini-bars, wines with lunch and dinner, alcoholic beverages, bottled water, and soft drinks are all included in your fare. Their passengers find it difficult to spend any money beyond their fare and shore excursions when booking one of these cruise lines that are so all-inclusive.

Do the math and you just might decide that a cruise is not only a more satisfying vacation choice, it's also kinder to your budget!

 Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises

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