These easy-to-plan vacation options have many similarities — here’s how to decide which one is right for you.

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While many people book vacations for relaxation, the process of planning them can get quite stressful, particularly if you’re booking a trip with a lot of moving parts. And that’s why many travelers turn to two very easy-to-plan types of vacations: cruises and all-inclusive resorts.

At first glance, it might not seem like a ship and a land-based property have much in common, but when you dig into a comparison, you might be surprised to find there are more similarities between the two than you think. For starters, both have rates that include accommodations, meals, and entertainment. Then there’s the fact that if you want to plan extra activities outside what’s included, there’s a concierge or guest services associate ready to help you out. And finally, there’s a cruise and an all-inclusive resort for everyone, from small ships and boutique properties to a mega-ship or expansive resort packed to the brim with onboard or on-resort activities. Plus, both types of trips can command similar nightly rates across all budgets.

So, which type of vacation should you pick? Here’s what you should consider before booking a cruise or all-inclusive resort stay.

Why You Should Pick a Cruise

<p>Emanuele Longo/EyeEm/Getty Images</p>

Emanuele Longo/EyeEm/Getty Images

The main differentiation between cruises and all-inclusives is the fact that ships move and resorts do not. For some, that’s a huge plus — you can visit a new place every day on a cruise ship. And while getting off the ship every day might seem exhausting to others, you can always pick an itinerary that includes several leisurely days at sea, which will allow you to enjoy the ship’s amenities, whether that means plunking down on a lounger beside the pool, hitting up the spa, or trying out amenities like a water slide, go-kart track, or a skydiving simulator.

Cruises might also be ideal for travelers who don’t want to fly — many cruises depart from major U.S. cities, so if you happen to live near one with a cruise port, you can simply drive to the dock. And some cruises don’t require passports, depending on the itinerary, which benefits travelers who don’t have passports (or have accidentally let theirs expire). All-inclusive resorts, on the other hand, are primarily located abroad in destinations like Mexico and the Caribbean, which typically require both flights and passports.

Something to consider about cruises is that only some cruise lines are truly all-inclusive. Many charge extra for alcoholic beverages, specialty dining, spa treatments, and excursions in port. You may want to factor those costs into your budget before picking a cruise, but even with the added expenses, cruising can still be an affordable option.

Why You Should Pick an All-inclusive Resort

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If you prefer to spend more time immersing yourself in a single place, an all-inclusive resort might be the better choice for you. While many all-inclusives feature locally inspired programming on property, you can always choose to leave the property to explore the destination more deeply. Of course, that will likely cost extra. And if you choose to stay on the property, you can expect your days to be filled with sunning by the beach or the pool, as most all-inclusive resorts are located in beach destinations. But all-inclusive resorts, like cruises, usually have a slew of other amenities and entertainment options, from spas to sports courts to kids clubs to nightly performances — and they often have those amenities spread out over wider areas than cruise ships, leading them to feel a little less crowded.

On the pricing front, most all-inclusive resorts are slightly more inclusive than cruises — namely, alcoholic beverages are typically included in the rate. So whether you’re interested in having wine with dinner or a few drinks at the nightclub, an all-inclusive resort might trump a cruise. Like cruises, however, some amenities and activities may cost extra, such as the spa or motorized water sports.

One other thing to consider is the fact that there are more inclusive-resorts/adult-only-resorts” data-ylk=”slk:adults-only all-inclusive resorts;elm:context_link;itc:0″ class=”link “>adults-only all-inclusive resorts than there are adults-only cruises — the only adults-only cruise lines are Virgin Voyages, Viking, and Saga. So if you’re looking for a romantic getaway, an all-inclusive resort can easily provide a kid-free environment.

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