updated 3/17/2008 10:55:17 AM ET 2008-03-17T14:55:17

Book by: ASAP
Travel by: Fall 2008

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The deal
Tired of the same old cruises on soulless mega-ships? As an alternative, we suggest small-ship cruising. Pick a petite ship sailing and you’re in for a more intimate voyage, with fewer fellow passengers. Granted you won’t have a dozen of restaurants and bars to choose from, but who cares when you can save up to 50 percent off rack rates. Case in point: We found a trio of well-priced transatlantic cruises on some of the world’s most exclusive vessels, including a five-star crossing from Puerto Rico to Spain.

Two-week sailing with Windstar
Next fall, you can hit high seas from Portugal’s Lisbon on a 14-night ocean crossing aboard the five-star Wind Spirit for just $1,549! This extravagant cruise is normally priced at a much higher rate but this season we’ve noticed a serious price mark-down. The ship hits high seas from the captivating Portuguese capital on November 8; a fortnight later, it disembarks in Charlotte Amalie on the Caribbean island of St Thomas. You’ll sail in an oceanview cabin on the exclusive Wind Spirit described by CruiseCritic.com as “chic, trendy and sophisticated as her passengers”.

Seabourn crossing at 50 percent off
Another high-style small-ship sail comes courtesy of Cruises Only. This 13-night transatlantic crossing from the Canary Islands to Florida saves you 50 percent off the rack rates. Suites on this exclusive Seabourn sailing next fall now sell for only $2,998! The five-star Seabourn Legend departs Spain’s Malaga on November 8, en route visiting the scenic Spanish-owned island of Tenerife. Of this all-suite vessel, CruiseCritic.com writes, “with an abundance of public space and so few (and quiet) fellow passengers, cruising on the Legend is more like sailing on your own personal yacht with several friends.”

Cross the pond on a SeaDream Yacht
For the most intimate experience, book an exclusive SeaDream Yacht Club cruise. These five-star sailings on the ultra-luxurious mega-yachts, SeaDream I and SeaDream II, don’t normally come cheap, but we found a special by the Yacht Club itself. A 12-night April sailing from San Juan, Puerto Rico to Spain’s Seville is on sale for $3,199, discounted from the brochure price of $4,900. CruiseCritic.com describes sailing with SeaDream as “the most genuine small-ship ultimate-flexibility cruise experience in the industry” with “consistently top-notch cuisine and service, but also the ambience”.

The dollars
The rates above are listed per person, based on double occupancy. The cost covers onboard accommodations, meals and entertainment, as well as port charges. You’ll just have to dish out extra for government taxes and fees, as well as any shore excursions you may decide to take.

The catch
Small-ship cruising also means fewer onboard amenities.

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