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Let's Do the Math

Isn't this going to cost a ton of money?  

I can hear you already.  I know.  

It's somewhere you've always wanted to go, but figured you would never be able to afford.  
I always thought the same thing.  
Well, what if I told you, you could take a 10 day trip to Hawaii for the same amount of money you'd spend on a  7 day Cruise or All-Inclusive.  

Sound too good to be true?


2021 UPDATE:

There are a lot of numbers here.

This was originally written around 2010, and it held true for a long time.

Unfortunately, like everything else, Covid-19 has changed all of it.

Currently, All-Inclusives and Cruises are on hold.

(Who would ever eat from a buffet again?)

So, all of these comparisons and prices are outdated.

What I can tell you now, is the ballpark price tag on your Maui trip.

Yes, Maui is open for business, and they could use the help.

1 BR Condo $150-$200/nt

2 BR Condo $175-$250/nt

Airfare from Northeast US $850-$900

Rental Car $40-$60 day.

You are still better off staying in a condo (w/full kitchen) over a hotel,

simply because eating in a restaurant 3 meals a day will cost a fortune.

(I'm going to keep the old figures here for future reference,

for whenever Cruising or All-Inclusives come back.)

Let's do the math.  

As I've said before, you can find listings for one bedroom condos in Kihei for between $100 and $150.  Let's say you find one you like for $120.  So, that's $1200.
We've had airfare over the years ranging from $560 to $900.  Let's say you get 
the average, $750. per person/round trip.  That's $1500.  Each of the last 4 times I've gone, the rental car was right around $400.  So let's go with that.

Condo  $120.00 x 10 days =  $1200.00

Airfare $750.00 x 2 =             $1500.00

  Rental Car x 10 days =             $400.00

   Total                                          $3100.00 

Not bad.  You're there with a place to stay and transportation for a tick over $3000.

We booked an 11 day trip for May of 2017.
We flew out of Toronto for $610/ea. So, $1220 total.  
We rented a one bedroom unit at Maui Vista in Kihei for 11 nights at $1400.  
We rented a full-size SUV for the entire stay at just under $400.  
That's $3000 for an 11 day vacation in Maui in 2017.

We also spent about another $1000 on food, drink and trinkets.

We did a Caribbean Cruise a couple of years ago, on Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas.  Our cabin was an outside balcony on the 7th deck.  Not the cheapest cabin, but nowhere near the top.  Our cabin alone cost $3300.  Add another $500 in airfare.  We obviously didn't need a car, so deduct that.  I don't know about you, but my number one worry when cruising, is missing the boat.  So I like to get to Florida a day early.  With our winter's so unpredictable, I like to give myself a 2-day window to get out of Buffalo.  That means adding  one night accommodations to your bill.  Let's say $100 (conservately).  You also have to get to and from the cruise port.  Most hotels near the airport have free shuttles from the airport to the hotel.  You have to pay to go to and from the cruise port.  It was $10 per person, per way.  So add another $40.  Let's do the math.

Outside Balcony Cabin for 2 = $3300.00

Airfare $250 x 2 =                       $500.00

Hotel x 1 night=                            $100.00

Transfers to ship=                            $40.00 

Total                                              $3940.00

Hmm.  You're there with a place to stay and transportation for a tick under $4000.


Your first response may be:  Well, that includes food.  True.  And it's convenient that they'll cook for you.  They'll also make all your drinks for you, at a cost.  Quite a cost.  Gone are the days when you could sneak booze onto a ship.  Royal Caribbean is now offering a booze package that costs $55.00 per person, per day.  But both people in your cabin have to order it.  No sharing.  So, add $770 to your bill, and we haven't even left port yet.  

So either you'll be high and dry, or you'll be paying bar prices at $5 to $7 a beer and $7 to $9 for a mixed drink.   

Add in shore excursions (at least $50 each per person), tips ($50+/Waiter, $25+/ Asst.Waiter, $25+/Maitre d', $50+/Cabin Steward) are customary, and souvenirs.  

You're now most likely close to $6000.


Back to Maui for a moment.  

We haven't talked about food, booze or excursion costs there.  The whole point of staying in a condo is the ability to grocery shop and prepare a good portion of your own meals.  I'm sure you've heard horror stories about $7 gallons of milk and $6 loaves of bread.  Although those items are higher than they are on the mainland, those numbers are exaggerated.  Safeway has gallon milk this week for $4.99.  In fact, if you look at their ad you'll find prices pretty comparable to those in the Northeast.  The last 2 times out there, we shopped for 4 adults at the beginning of our stay.  We were able to buy enough food to cover our entire stay for around $250.  We had occasional stops back for odd and ends during the week and we ate out 2 nights.  But, the $250 pretty much covered it and we were grilling pork chops, steak and chicken for the most part.  Since we're comparing trips with just 2 people, it's even less. 


Remember how much I told you booze would cost on a cruise?  

Take a look again at the Safeway ad.  You'll find 750 ml bottles of Bacardi and Ketel One for around $20.  You'll also see 30 packs of Bud Light for $23.  You'd kill for those prices on a Cruise.


You should do the bulk of your shopping at Costco in Kahului, near the airport.  If you don't have a membership, buy one.  You save that, and then some.  Food, oven-ready meals, LIQUOR, beer, beach towels, snorkel equipment, even Hawaiian shirts for $19.99!!  Go shopping there as soon as possible after your arrival (within a day or two).  If you go after you've already been on Maui for a week, you'll be afraid of not using up the larger items before you go home.



For the most part, you won't have to pay for someone to take you on an excursion.  

You'll just hop in the car and drive yourself, with the help of your Maui Revealed book (and this little guide, of course).  You could spend money to get on boat to snorkel.  But you could also just drive to a beach and see just as much.  If you decide to do the Luau I suggested it will cost a bit.  But that also eliminates one dinner.

Let's compare.


                                                                                             Cruise                       Maui

                                          Accommodations                  $3400.00                  $1200.00

                                          Airfare                                       $500.00                  $1500.00

                                          Rental Car                                                                 $400.00

                                          Transfers                                     $40.00

                                          Food                                                                           $400.00 (inc. 1 night out)

                                          Booze                                          $500.00                 $100.00

                                          Tips                                             $150.00
                                          Excursions                                 $300.00                 $300.00 (inc. Luau)

                                          Total                                          $4890.00                 $3800.00


Don't forget we're comparing a 7 day Cruise and 10 day Maui trip.


I'm sure you'll find occasional Cruise or All-Inclusive deals which may bring the numbers closer.  

These figures are just based on the averages I've seen lately.  I think you'd have a hard time beating those numbers, especially if you tried to go 10 days.


There's another advantage to a Maui vacation over a Cruise/All-Inclusive vacation I haven't even mentioned yet.  


Maui is part of the United States.


That can't be overstated.  Same currency, same language, same standards.  Let's face it, we like to have the comforts of home that you won't find in many countries through the Caribbean.
Maybe we'll cover this more deeply on a later page.  


So, do you still think you can't afford Maui?  Hopefully, I just blew up your last excuse.


I recently spoke to a friend who does a good amount of travel.

 Judging by his desire to continually go on Carnival Cruise Lines,

you'd be hard pressed to call him an expert
(I jest)
But, here's what he told me.

Among his favorite places to go, are All-Inclusives in the Dominican Republic.  The main reason is cost.  Generally, the Dominican has the lowest prices of any All-Inclusive anywhere.  It has nice beaches and warm, sunny weather pretty much year-round.

So, let's compare it to Maui.

We've already discussed the cost of the Maui trip above.  So, we'll just stay with that.

My friend told me he just booked a trip to the Dominican this coming October.  

Not peak season by any stretch.  In fact, it's more accurate to say that hurricane season sometimes stretches into October in the Caribbean.
He's paying about $1500. each, for he and his wife.  That, of course, includes airfare, food and booze.  Thusly, an All-Inclusive.
You wouldn't dare rent a car down there (it might be foolish to rent any motorized vehicle there, for that matter).  I've heard stories about unsuspecting travelers renting ATVs and Jet-Skis which were on their last leg, only to have them break down.  

Then have the owner of the vehicle demand the repair bill be paid in full,

with the full backing of Dominican law keeping you in the country until said bill is paid.  
Even if it didn't break down, if you have an accident, does your no fault cover you down there?  I don't want to find out.  This very same friend, a few years ago, had his son lose control of an ATV down there.  He drove it into the living area of a Dominican family, destroying their lovely poly-urethane kitchen set.  Luckily, it wasn't a person that was hit, and he was able to haggle a settlement.

Getting back to the point, no rental car cost.

You won't dare walk off the resort property on your own.  

So, the only way to avoid being stuck on the resort all week, is to do an excursion.  
Many years ago, Heidi and I did a Dominican All-Inclusive.  We ended up being, as far as we could tell, the only english speaking people on the entire resort.  On our first excursion we ran into a nice Canadian couple who we were finally able to converse with.  We booked another excursion they mentioned they were doing,  just to have to someone to chat with.
So, let's say (like us) you do 2 excursions.  My friend says he'll probably do two shopping excursions into town, at about $89. each per person (I guess they're not around the corner). 

This is before you even buy anything.

I didn't hear him mention any transfer fees from the airport.  Although, I seem to recall paying them.  We'll leave that out for now.  Let's do the math.

All-Inclusive for 2 = $3000.00
2 excursions for 2 =    $356.00
Total                            $3356.00

Not bad.  You're there with a place to stay, food, drink and 2 places to go for about $3400.

Now, don't forget we're talking about a 7 day trip to the Dominican Republic.  What I've shown you previously is a 10 day trip to Maui for just $400. more, including all the same.  Except for the fact (yes, I'll mention it again), Maui is in the United States.  I don't think I'd get much of an argument from anyone that the Dominican is a third world country outside the gates of your resort.  There's nothing wrong with that.  If you're into supporting their economy on the $10 trinket you'll buy in town, or if you're on a Peace Corps mission. 
I'm going for vacation.

I love the ability to get in my car, and drive myself wherever I want without feeling guilty for not buying something from people begging for money.

That said, you're still going to buy things and tip people in the D.R.  

That will take up a good part of your $400 savings.


Dispute this?  Contact me here.  

If you have any other insight, especially if you're this friend, please share it.

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