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The Egypt with Red Sea cruise package features round-trip airfare, a seven-night cruise, two nights' hotel accommodations, and a one-way flight within Egypt.
updated 9/23/2008 9:29:01 AM ET 2008-09-23T13:29:01

The Real Deal: Round-trip airfare, a seven-night cruise, two nights' hotel accommodations, and a one-way flight within Egypt, from $2,899 per person — plus an estimated $238 in taxes and fees.

When: Jan. 22, Feb. 5, 19, March 5, 19, 2009; add $80 for Jan. 8.

Gateways: New York City. Note that package rates are based on block seats on Egypt Air flights from JFK airport and include a flight within Egypt. Packages from other U.S. gateways can be purchased at an additional cost that doesn't include the flight within Egypt.

The fine print: Airline fuel surcharges (which can be up to $240), a total of 22 meals (nine breakfasts, six lunches, and seven dinners), hotel taxes, and all transfers are included. Additional charges include $88 for airport taxes and fees, $85 for port charges, and $65 in mandatory tips — a total of $238. U.S. passport holders can obtain a renewable 30-day tourist visa on arrival at the Cairo airport for a $15 fee to be paid in U.S. dollars. Check the consular information sheet for more details. Prices are based on double occupancy; single supplement is approximately $663. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.

Book by: Dec. 12, 2008; add $200 for bookings made after the deadline.

Contact: Gate 1 Travel, 800/682-3333, gate1travel.com.

Why it's a deal: According to a recent search on Kayak, multi-city airfare for Jan. 22 departures (New York to Cairo, Hurghada to Cairo, and Cairo to New York) starts at $1,211, including taxes (multiple carriers). For an additional $1,926, the Gate 1 package covers airfare as well as the fuel surcharges, taxes, a two-night hotel stay, a seven-night cruise, most meals, and all transfers. Consider that you also get the reassurance and convenience of having all the details arranged on your behalf.

Trip details: The Egypt with Red Sea cruise package features round-trip airfare between New York City and Cairo as well as a local flight between Hurghada and Cairo, both on Egypt Air.

You'll arrive in Cairo for an overnight stay at the central 380-room Pyramisa Cairo Hotel and Casino before transferring to Alexandria (about 140 miles from Cairo) the next day. There, you'll board the 320-passengerArion. Weighing in at 6,000 tons, this ship is more nimble than many cruise liners, which makes it well suited for visiting smaller, less-trafficked ports.

The ship will remain docked for the first night to allow you to enjoy some time in Alexandria. A guided sightseeing tour will take you, by bus, to the gardens of King Farouk's summer palace and Fort Qaitbey — built on the site of Alexandria's ancient lighthouse — as well as the Shoqafa catacombs, and the futuristic-looking Library of Alexandria. You'll also take an afternoon excursion to Rashid, a town 35 miles northeast of Alexandria known for the Rosetta Stone, a black basalt slab bearing an inscription considered key to the deciphering of Egyptian hieroglyphs.

As the ship sets sail from Port Said, you'll pass through the Suez Canal. The 100-plus-mile-long passageway was built in 1869 to connect the Mediterranean to the Red Sea.

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You'll arrive at Aqaba, Jordan, late in the afternoon. Explore the town on your own, then spend the night aboard the docked ship before proceeding by bus to Jordan's Petra. The UNESCO World Heritage site, which dates back to the 6th century, is brimming with temples, royal tombs, and baths. Here you'll also find a 3,000-seat theater from the 1st century A.D.

Slideshow: Celebrating world heritage An overnight sail brings you to Sharm el Sheikh, a beach hotspot at the southernmost tip of Egypt's Sinai peninsula. You can spend the day lounging on the beach or take your pick from three optional excursions: a full-day trip to St. Catherine's Monastery ($133 per person), a full-day trip to the crescent-shaped Naama Bay ($111 per person), or a half-day safari tour by Jeep and camel ($126 per person).

Early the next morning, you'll land in Safaga. From here, you can take a full-day trip to Luxor in Upper Egypt ($237 per person) or a half-day visit to a bedouin settlement ($139 per person). A bus transfer drops you at the Hurghada airport, about 33 miles north of Safaga, to catch a one-hour flight back to Cairo. Spend the final night at Cairo's Pyramisa hotel before flying back home.

This package doesn't give you the option to add extra nights, partially because the promotional rate is based on an agreed-upon block of seats on Egypt Air that's only available for travel on predetermined days of the week.

Before you go, get more information by visiting Egypt's official Web site and the State Department's Egypt consular information sheet.

Copyright © 2012 Newsweek Budget Travel, Inc.

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