Image: Panama Canal
Arnulfo Franco  /  AP file
Looking for a unique way to celebrate a specific milestone before the close of 2008? A cruise through the Panama Canal on the eve of its 95th year may be a fitting tribute.
updated 8/25/2008 5:55:38 PM ET 2008-08-25T21:55:38

Book by: November 1, 2008
Travel by: December 2008

The deal
Looking for a unique way to celebrate a specific milestone before the close of 2008? A cruise through the Panama Canal on the eve of its 95th year may be a fitting tribute. You can mark your special occasion with memories of destinations stretching from Mexico to Colombia to Aruba. Of course, no birthday, anniversary or lottery winning is necessary. With rates as low as $999 and discounts as great as 51 percent, the trips are perfect for anyone just looking for a little R&R.

11 nights, six countries: $999 and up
For a roundtrip adventure, we suggest Royal Caribbean’s 11-night journey departing Miami. After two days of charting a course through the dreamy turquoise waters of the Caribbean, the Jewel of the Seas docks first in Oranjestad, Aruba, and then Cartagena in Colombia. You’ll arrive at the Panama Canal on the seventh day, followed by stops in Cristobal, Panama; Puerto Limon, Costa Rica; and George Town, Grand Cayman. Three entire days at sea are mixed in as well. Interior staterooms on the December 8 sailing now start at just $999. Oceanview cabins go for $1,249.

Half off 12-night ride from Ecuador
This next cruise, a journey with Princess takes you all the way from Ecuador to Florida. And with the 51 percent markdown, the November 27 departure aboard the Royal Princess is a vacation bargain. You’ll have two days in Ecuador’s Guayaquil before setting sail. The itinerary takes you to Esmeraldas, Ecuador; Puntarenas, Costa Rica; Cristobal, Panama; San Blas Islands off the Panama coast; Cartagena, Colombia; and Oranjestad, Aruba. Four days of cruising plus a day on the Panama Canal are also included before arriving to the final destination, Fort Lauderdale. Interior and ocean-view cabins are priced from $1,107.

16-night eastbound odyssey from $1299
Prefer a California departure? You can save $1,000 on Holland America Line’s 16-nighter from San Diego to Fort Lauderdale. The Rotterdam sails down the Mexican coast with ports of call in Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Manzanillo, Huatulco and Puerto Chiapas (Tapachula). Next, the ship drops anchor in Puntarenas, Costa Rica, before continuing the eastbound odyssey through the Panama Canal to Oranjestad, Aruba. You get seven days of cruising the Pacific and Caribbean as well. Staterooms on the December 7 journey, normally priced at $2,299, are available for $1,299. That’s a 43 percent discount! Oceanview cabins begin at just $1,399.

The dollars
The quotes are per person, based on double occupancy. Onboard meals, entertainment, accommodations and port charges are included in the price. Government taxes and fees, tips, liquor, shore excursions and personal expenses are extra.

The catch
The timing of the cruises could interfere with holiday shopping.

Booking details
For the Royal Caribbean sailing, go to orbitz.com or call 1-888-656-8184.

For the Princess Cruises trip, check out cruisesonly.com or call 1-800-CRUISES.

For the Holland America Line cruise, visit vacationoutlet.com or call 1-800-TAKEOFF.

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