Bali Getaway VS South Pacific Cruise: Which is better value?

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It’s vacation time. You are so excited to be getting out of the country and relaxing on an exotic beach. Your friends just came back from Bali and are raving about it. How cheap it was, how relaxing it was, all the sarongs they bought.

But your parents just took their golden anniversary on a cruise sailing around the South Pacific. They never worried about food, they spent days on the beach or around a swimming pool and they already booked another for next year.

You are torn. And when it comes down to it you really want the best holiday and the best value for money.

Erin Bender from Travel With Bender helped us compare the classic Bali getaway with the Pacific Cruise. Which holiday came up trumps?


Photo credit Erin Bender


It’s your home away from home and having a nice space to come back to can make or break a trip. However, the biggest expense in any holiday is housing you and your family.


There’s a broad range of accommodation options from $80/night budget hotels to $300/night luxury resorts. While cheaper hotels will help keep overall costs down, luxury resorts also expose you to more on-site activities. On average, a family room in Kuta will set you back about $200/night, usually including breakfast and Wi-Fi.

7 nights, including breakfast and Wi-Fi: $1,400

South Pacific Cruise

A cruise is all-inclusive so the final price will include your accommodation and food. Depending on the season, an indoor suite can set you back less than $100/person/night for 4 people in the Caribbean, however in the South Pacific with Royal Caribbean you are looking just over $200/person/night.

7 nights including all meals, no Wi-Fi: $6,000


Photo credit Erin Bender


After accommodation, it’s all about food (at least in our family). One of the best parts of travel is discovering local cuisine and indulging in new flavours and sensations.  For simplicity sake, let’s not include alcoholic drinks in this price.


Bali has everything from traditional Indonesian rice and chicken to Western favourites like pizza and tacos, which can be a parent’s best friend when you have fussy eaters in the family. You can find a meal from a local street vendor for as little as $1 or you can head to a Western-styled restaurant and pay $10. Let’s calculate costs on the higher end for a family of 4.

Lunch and dinner for 7 nights: $560

South Pacific Cruise

On a cruise all meals are provided. You will have access to 24 hour room service, multiple buffets, fine dining and more. You can expect to pay more for specialty restaurants, but there is really no need with the dining facilities that are included. Water and lemonade are usually included in your cruising package, however alcoholic beverages and soft drinks are extra. You can obtain a package if this is something you wish to include.

Lunch and dinner for 7 nights: $0 (Included in room price)

Activities / Entertainment

That’s the practical parts covered, now on to the day to day itinerary. On top of relaxation, a holiday is made for fun and adventure and a lot of your hard earned money goes to entertainment and keeping busy.


Whether it’s a day at Waterbom waterpark, jet skiing on the ocean or a day of pampering at the spa, Bali has you covered. For the kids, larger resorts will often include a fully-supervised kids club, however some may require an additional daily or hourly rate.

7-day adventure for a family of 4: $1,500

South Pacific Cruise

There are so many activities included on a cruise ship from musicals and movies to animal-towel folding and nightclubs. Plus they offer free kids club all day packed with entertaining activities for kids.

However, if you want to do activities at each destination you will need to pay more. Cruises offer shore excursions, however you will find it cheaper to organise them yourself.

All onboard activities: $0 (Included in room price)

Optional: 3 onshore excursions for 2 adults: $500


Photo credit Erin Bender


Then there’s the matter of actually getting there and back.


The cost of flying to Bali from Australia really depends on where you’re flying out of and who you’re flying with.

From Australia’s east coast, tickets for two adults and two children with a budget airline will set you back about $3,000. From the west coast, you’re looking at about $1,500.

Return flights for 2 adults, 2 children : $2,250 (average)

South Pacific Cruise

Similarly, transport costs for a cruise depends on what type of cruise you’re doing and where you’re departing from. If you’re departing from Sydney and live close to a local port, you may not have to pay for any additional transport. If you need to fly to your departure point locally or internationally, this could become an additional expense. As NSW contributes 40.9% to cruising departures in Australia, let’s say you need to get yourself to Sydney to depart on your cruise.

Return flights for 2 adults, 2 children: $1,000 (average)


Photo credit Erin Bender


So how does a 7-night holiday in Bali compare to a South Pacific cruise for a family of 4?

Bali – $5,750

Sure, you can do it cheaper (and you can definitely do it for more), but on average this is what can be expected. While a little more effort has to go in to keeping the family entertained and additional planning if you want to visit other locations, the pace of your trip is completely in your own hands.

South Pacific Cruise – $7,000

This is based on the cheapest interior room (with no drinks, Wi-Fi or shore excursions) and with $1000 transport costs to get to your departure point. However, once you get on board, the spending spree pretty much halts. You will get to see several different exotic islands, eat more than you could dream of and see an entertaining theatre production every night.

If it’s value you are after then perhaps your friends were right and you will be  booking that trip to Bali. But if it’s indulgence, luxury and complete headache-free holidaying, then a cruise will be calling your name. Be warned though, once the cruise bug bites, you could get hooked.


Erin Bender is an award winning family blogger. Erin has been travelling with her husband and two children since May 2012. It’s an open-ended, unplanned, round-the-world trip discovering amazing places for families. They have stayed in hostels and 5 star luxury resorts, travelled on scooters and cruise liners, danced with leprechauns and cuddled tigers. Nothing is out of bounds or out of reach for this remarkable Australian family.


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