Sunday, October 2, 2022
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I went to an all-inclusive resort in Mexico with my family of 6 instead of going on a cruise. It was more memorable and cost half the price.


I thought the dining options at the resort were much more flexible than any cruise we’ve been on.

The author’s middle daughter eating pizza by the pool and a view of the buffet offerings on Italian night.

Daryl Austin


In my experience, cruise dining is somewhat flexible aside from the main dining room where we’ve only ever had two options for dinner: eating early or late.

Dining at our resort, by contrast, was very flexible. 

We went to a massive buffet for breakfast and dinner with rotating cuisine themes like Caribbean, Brazilian, Mexican, steak and lobster, Italian, Asian, and BBQ. Reservations were never required and I noticed that guests would come and go at their leisure.

For lunch, we chose from two poolside restaurants and an all-you-can eat pizzeria. The resort also has two upscale restaurants, including a Japanese hibachi restaurant that my family loved. These restaurants allow and recommend reservations, though they weren’t required, and some meals there do incur an extra charge.

We also ordered poolside snacks and drinks, and enjoyed 24-hour room service.

Everyone in my family liked the food, and overall, I thought the quality was superior to most cruises I’ve been on, except perhaps Disney, with which I think it was on par for flavor and quality. 

Unlike cruising, however, I felt compelled to tip at every meal. Every server, be it poolside, room service, or at the buffet, brought us a check afterwards that showed a zero balance for the meal but included a line where I could, and did, write in a tip to be charged to my room.

I much prefer the way cruise lines handle tips where guests either prepay a single amount to be divided among all the staff, or tip each crew member individually at the end of the trip.

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