6 Things Your All-Inclusive Vacation Might Not Include

All-inclusive trips to resorts or on cruise ships can be a convenient and relaxing, since your major expenses are already taken care of. They can suddenly become a lot more stressful when you learn that the things that make a vacation fun––excursions, fancy beverages, memorable meals––aren’t part of the package that you signed on for.

Adapted from a slideshow about all-inclusive vacations over at Marketwatch, here are six things that your all-inclusive vacation might not include.

  1. Savings. Yes, an all-inclusive stay might be more relaxing if you aren’t hauling your wallet out every few minutes, but it’s not necessarily a money-saver. This is especially true if the all-inclusive price includes activities that you might not be interested in, or food and drinks when you’d rather eat somewhere else anyway.
  2. Beverages. One cruise fan Marketwatch spoke to recounted a recent Princess cruise where her drink options were limited to water, lemonade, iced tea, juice, and brewed coffee. If you imagined yourself drinking fancier things on vacation, you’ll have to pay extra for a drinks package, and that extra charge recurs every day. Some resorts and cruises also charge extra for non-crappy food.
  3. The room pictured in the brochure. Your accommodations might be a lot less fancy. Brochures might depict rooms not yet built or under renovation. Check out message boards and recent reviews online, looking for accounts from travelers on the same ship or to the same resort.
  4. Tips. Find out whether gratuities are included or not: staff may be required to refuse tips, or may be happy to receive them. On cruises, a daily gratuity for all staff will be added to your bill.
  5. Excursions. You might want to travel off the ship or outside of the resort, supporting the local economy directly and seeing sights, but often that will cost you extra.
  6. Refunds. If bad weather or another disaster strikes, you might have to cancel or reschedule your trip. If you were planning to eat at traditional restaurants, well, you don’t pay for food until you’ve ordered it. At an all-inclusive resort? Watch out for fine print that might mean you’re out the entire cost of a night’s stay if you decide to stay away because of crappy weather.

10 things all-inclusive vacations won’t tell you [MarketWatch]

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  1. SingleMaltGeek says:

    For #6, I recommend travel insurance for any trip that is a big deal for you. We paid about 5% of the total cost, and that covered not being able to go due to jury duty or subpoena, or even a car accident while trying to depart. If the money isn’t enough to be a big deal, then sure, you can do without it, but this was for a Very Expensive Trip.

    Also, if you have the money and are interested in all-expenses paid vacations, I recommend Regent Seven Seas Cruises. We had been on a couple of cruises before (Princess, NCL), but RSSC was worth the extra money. We sat down and did the math, and with alcohol, meals, tips, excursions, and transfers included, it was about what we would have paid on another cruise line, but the experience was SO much better. A world apart, really.

  2. Seli says:

    Even a little bit of research goes a LONG way. Even if you’re using an old-fashioned travel agent, I don’t think there’s any excuse in this day and age for not looking at the resort’s website and seeing what you get for your money (I’ve always found it to be very clear what is and isn’t included), and then popping onto TripAdvisor and reading some reviews of the hotel. It takes 10 minutes for something you’re spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on. There’s just no reason that you shouldn’t know all these things before going on your vacation.

    Mr.Seli and I love going to the adults-only all inclusive resorts in the Riviera Maya area of Mexico, and you can get some great bargains, but you do have to be willing to keep an eye on the prices, know what you’re willing to pay, and be ready to book immediately when you find a good deal. We use an online travel agent instead of booking directly on the resort’s site (which is what the source article recommends); we’ve almost always found better deals this way. We leave in 22 days for our next trip, but you know, who’s counting.

  3. furiousd says:

    On cruises, a daily gratuity for all staff will be added to your bill.

    I assume you mean voluntarily. I’ve been on 16 cruises with 7 different cruise lines (my parents have been on many more, including two additional cruise lines) without an automatic gratuity added. In fact, one way we’ve ensured good service is to go to the steward in charge of your cabin, waiter, Maître d’, etc. and hand them $100 with the instructions that if you’re not pleased with their service then that’s all they get for gratuity for the week. But if they do a good job, then it’s a bonus on top of a gratuity you’ll give at the end of the trip.