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Land vs. Cruise: Which is the Better Deal for a Family Vacation?

At a Budget-Friendly Price, Cruise Ships Offer Abundant Amenities

DETROIT -- How does the pricing of a cruise compare to a land vacation? Recent data indicates that the average price per person on a seven-night Caribbean cruise is approximately $845, or $120 a day. That’s down from a 7-night average of $922 just a few years ago.

In contrast, consider that a mid-range room at the Atlantis Resort (a Studio Harbour View at the Reef Atlantis) has a week-long cost of $4356, or $622 a day.

Proponents of cruising tout it as the ultimate travel experience, say the experts at CruiseCompete, and here are the Top Five Reasons to Cruise:

  1. The vacation vibe -- A cruise will make you feel the vacation. The cruise lines go the extra mile with welcome events, special activities and amenities (like private islands!) that make guests really feel like they’re taking a break from their everyday lives…and experiencing life in vacation mode.
  2. Unique villages, sun drenched islands, busy cities -- A cruise is a convenient way to visit multiple cities you may have only dreamed of, without having to pack and unpack!
  3. Delicacies from the sea and other interesting fare -- In addition to having a wide variety of restaurants, cafes, grills and buffets, cruise ships often feature cuisine by some of today’s top chefs. Oceania’s executive chef is none other than the eminent French chef Jacques Pépin.
  4. Extreme or sedate activities -- Spas, climbing walls, golf simulators; cruise ships have come a long way from the simple shuffleboard games they were once synonymous with. Even multi-generational groups will have no trouble finding activities that will satisfy everyone’s interests.
  5. Impressive land trips -- The ancient Egyptian pyramids, an exotic African safari or a fascinating Antarctic expedition…all of these are shore excursion options and, in some cases, they’re even included! Book an excursion in a port and you’ll see the elements of the regions you’d likely never discover on your own.

So what can you expect for your cruising dollar? On most cruise lines, the following items are included in pricing:

  • Cabin accommodations
  • Many, many meals on board -- dining at main restaurants, casual restaurants and buffets
  • Most shipboard recreational facilities (pools, whirlpools, fitness centers and sporting equipment)
  • Entertainment and shows
  • All onboard casinos, clubs, bars and lounges
  • Onboard games and activities such as trivia contests, lectures, and group competitions
  • Port charges, taxes and fees
  • Youth programs, from toddlers to teens

Many lines incorporate much more than this into their all-in-one pricing; for example, luxury line Regent Seven Seas Cruises, which also includes airfare, transfers, shore excursions, onboard gratuities and fine wines & premium spirits in its packages.

In general, however, the following items will usually incur an additional cost when cruising:

  • Air transportation
  • Shore excursions
  • Babysitting
  • Laundry service
  • Travel Insurance
  • Transfers

    Shore excursions
  • Gambling expenses
  • Specialty restaurant dining options
  • Most alcoholic beverages
  • Photographs
  • Souvenirs
  • Spa & beauty treatments
  • Specialized fitness classes

Based on this information, how do cruise vacations compare, cost-wise, to a traditional land vacation? Since recent data indicates that the average price per person on a seven-night Caribbean cruise is approximately $845, that works out to about $120 per person per day.

In contrast, consider that a mid-range room at the Atlantis Resort (A Studio Harbour View at the Reef Atlantis) has a week-long cost of $4356, or $622 per day. The maximum allowable number of guests in the room is four, so the best case cost scenario is $155 per person per day. Meals must be purchased separately; guests eat ala carte or can purchase a meal plan (which includes two meals per day) for either $50 (the Value Dining Plan) or $95 (the Atlantis Dining Plan). Like a cruise ship, this resort has many nice included amenities, but the basic cost will run upwards of $200 per person per day.

Cruising provides a wonderful venue for travel and exploration…and all the benefits can be had at a budget-friendly price. To find out more about cruising, the cruise lines and their ships please visit www.CruiseCompete.com.