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Weigh it up

Should you choose a cruise over an all-inclusive hotel vacation?

All-inclusive vacations are the go-to choice of many travelers, but with the destination fixed to one place… should you consider taking a cruise instead?

Cruise vacations can easily be dismissed by the uninitiated but, in fact, cruises are just as good as land-based all-inclusive vacations if not better!

Virgin Voyages, a new adults-only cruise line, packs in all-inclusive food while itineraries visit multiple destinations all in the one getaway, to name just a couple of advantages. No getting bored by the same old beach view here.

We’ve taken a look at how a cruise vacation compares to all-inclusive vacations in hotels – and why you may want to consider the former for your next escape.

Cruise vacation vs all-inclusive vacation: Food

Coming to dinner?

You might think that one ship would have waaay fewer restaurants than an all-inclusive hotel on dry land and therefore options are limited… but you would be wrong. You might also believe that cruises are all about sub-par buffets – again, incorrect.

Virgin Voyages has more than 20 eateries, ranging from relaxed casual to refined dining, not to mention menus curated by Michelin-star chefs! There are also no buffets or big dining halls to be seen.

To give you a taste, no pun intended, of the restaurants onboard Virgin Voyages ships, there’s steak and seafood joint The Wake, elevated Mexican spot Pink Agave (complete with a master of ceremonies to guide you through a curated dining and drinking experience) and lively Korean BBQ restaurant Gunbae.

Elsewhere there’s ice cream, Mediterranean mezze, pizza, poke bowls, pastries, burgers, tacos… and we could go on! Anyone else salivating? Moreover, absolutely all these restaurants are included in the price of your cruise fare so you never need to eat in the same place more than once.

All essential drinks are included too, including still and sparkling water, non-pressed juices, sodas, teas and drip coffee. As for alcohol, boozy bevs are well priced (basic cocktails cost $9, beer $5-6) and you can always keep an eye out for Virgin Voyages Bar Tab deals to help you save even more money!

Cruise vacation vs all-inclusive vacation: Activities

Let's get moving

“There’s nothing to do on a cruise ship”. “I’ll feel trapped”. “I’ll be bored”…are just some of the assumptions many people who have never tried a cruise make.

You might think that infinitely more activities are available on an all-inclusive vacation versus on a ship – but, sorry to say, you would be wrong again.

Not only do cruise ships call at a wealth of destinations where you can take all manner of guided excursions (more on that later) but there is also lots to keep you fully entertained onboard Virgin Voyages ships, morning, noon and night.

For starters, there are all thing wellness. Keep fit at the gym – whether that’s at a free group fitness class (think boxing, yoga, HIIT and more) or a PT session – go for a jog around the running track, take a dip in the pool then head to the spa.

Redemption Spa’s Thermal Suite includes a mud room, salt room, sauna, steam room, hot and cold plunge pool and heated marble hammam benches while all sorts of treatments are available, from massages to seaweed wraps. Ahhh, we feel relaxed at the thought.

Want to beautify to the max afterwards? Get a mani or pedi and make the most of the salon’s many services. Oh, and you can even get a tattoo!

Elsewhere onboard the smorgasbord of activities continues – in The Social Club there’s gaming area The Arcade along with all manner of other games such as air hockey, shuffleboard, board games and so on. Or maybe you fancy a moment browsing the onboard record shop?

Guests can also make their own music (well, sort of) in private karaoke sessions or flirt with Lady Luck at the casino where you can play numerous games or be taught how to gamble by a pro dealer.

Come evening, Virgin Voyages offers modern and immersive entertainment – from an interactive, late-night cabaret and a telling of Romeo and Juliet with an elaborate circus twist to an absurdist dance party and an immersive theatrical dinner party to name a few shows.

In The Red Room, the first ever transformational, multi-form theatre, guests can enjoy boundary-pushing performances or late-night dance parties while The Manor hosts groundbreaking shows before transitioning into an alluring nightclub. Best pack those dancing shoes!

As we said, literally no second need be taken up with boredom on a Virgin Voyages cruise, although lazing by the pool is also very much encouraged if you crave some downtime.

Cruise vacation vs all-inclusive vacation: Accommodation

Hit the hay

Just because you’re on a ship rather than in an all-inclusive hotel doesn’t mean there’s any compromise when it comes to your vacation accommodation. There’s just as much choice out at sea when it comes to rooms as there is on terra firma.

Virgin Voyages has a wide range of cabins to suit all needs and budgets, catering for solos, couples or pals. They all boast clever cabin technology, sophisticated styling, Wi-Fi, 24/7 room service and they’re eco-friendly.

There are inside cabins for those looking to save the pennies, rooms with a view, cabins with balconies (complete with a hand-woven terrace hammock) plus a selection of fabulous suites.

Suites come with marble bathrooms, spacious stargazing terraces, champagne tables, bottomless in-room bars and exclusive treatments plus extra perks such as access to exclusive deck Richard’s Rooftop, early boarding through a VIP entrance, priority access to booking and 24/7 access to agents looking after your every need. Nice one.

Cruise vacation vs all-inclusive vacation: Destinations

Far and wide

That all-inclusive hotel? It ain’t moving, mate. You’re literally stuck in that one destination. Not so a cruise ship!

With cruising, you can go to bed in one country and wake up in another and you only ever have to unpack once. The world, as they say, is your oyster.

Virgin Voyages offers vacations to the Caribbean, Europe, South Pacific and beyond so there’s definitely an itinerary to suit you. A big advantage of choosing Virgin is that all sailings feature late stays and overnights so your style never needs to be cramped. You simply have to pick the cruise that hits the destinations you’re after!

Caribbean sailings range from four to eight nights, visiting such hotspots as Mexico, the Dominican Republic, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Honduras, Florida and the Bahamas, including Virgin’s very own Beach Club at Bimini.

As for Europe, Virgin Voyages cruises hit up countless ports in Corsica, Spain, Greece, Turkey, Sardinia, France, Gibraltar, Ibiza and Mallorca on sailings ranging from seven to 10 nights.

Over in the South Pacific, Virgin will visit Australia and New Zealand in 2023, offering itineraries as short as two nights and as long as 14-nights.

Virgin Voyages also has repositioning cruises that stop at some very exciting ports of call as ships move to new homeports for the summer and winter. For instance, next year new ship Resilient Lady will call at Bali, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, Egypt and Dubai on her ocean crossing to Down Under.

What’s more, at all these incredible destinations Virgin Voyages offers a range of excursions to help you really make the most of your vacation, whether you want to get stuck into the culinary scene, dive into some adventure or uncover ancient history.

Hotel schmotel. There’s a clear winner here.

Set Sail

New Zealand, Tasmania & Melbourne with Virgin Voyages

Duration: 12 nights

Where: Auckland | Napier | Wellington | Christchurch | Dunedin | Hobart | Melbourne

Ship: Resilient Lady

Price: From $1,594 pp

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Published 06.15.23