Image: Terminus of Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska
Danny Lehman  /  Corbis
Sail away on a 7-night Alaska cruise from Seattle in May from $549.
updated 11/11/2008 11:23:32 AM ET 2008-11-11T16:23:32

Book by: ASAP
Travel by: Select dates through August 7, 2009

The deal
It’s never too soon to start thinking about next year’s vacation, and when the allure of the Caribbean begins to lose its luster, it may be time for a more “grown up” getaway. While many people make the switch to popular (but pricey) Mediterranean voyages, right now you can save a bundle by booking ahead on way-north cruises to ports of call in Scandinavia, Russia, and Alaska These editorially selected itineraries from Royal Caribbean International are chockfull of incredibly scenic adventures including glaciers, national parks, fjords and off-the-path historical port cities. Northern Europe cruises start as low as $199 on board the Vision of the Seas, while its sister ship, the Rhapsody of the Seas heads to Alaska from just $549. So this time around, leave the tropical beaches behind and experience a truly unique and affordable voyage, far away from the crowded, “been there, done that” Caribbean scene.

4-night sailing from London to Amsterdam & Oslo from $199
If you’ve always been curious about the storied city of Amsterdam, this 4-night cruise on offer from Orbitz.com is your chance to sample the capital — and save — with interior cabins starting from just $199. Oceanview cabins are also available starting from $249. After setting sail May 3, 2009 from London (Harwich), Amsterdam is the next stop and main attraction on this voyage. Spend two full days biking the quiet streets, visiting the Van Gogh museum and Anne Frank house, or taking a boat ride in the maze of peaceful canals. Let’s not forget about Amsterdam’s reputation as a nightlife hotspot due to its red-light district and coffee shops where marijuana and the potent liquorice-flavored drink, Absinthe, are widely available. After spending the last day at sea, the final disembarkation port is Oslo, Norway, where the ship will pass by some incredible scenery like the Oslo Fjord.

Northern European sailing adventures from $499
Explore exotic Russia, Sweden, and Estonia aboard with cabins available from just $499. After disembarking from Stockholm, the first featured port on this 4-night cruise is St. Petersburg, where each summer the White Night Festival kicks off with incredible ballet, opera, and classical music performances. During the summer, temperatures range between 50 and 75 degrees, allowing comfortable conditions for exploring the city’s many lively streets, town squares, and imperial palaces. Upon arriving in the next port of call in Tallinn, Estonia, there is an overwhelming sense of stepping back in time, as medieval architecture makes up much of this city. In addition, there are many art galleries and handicraft shops to browse during the port visit before returning to Stockholm. This specially-priced cruise sails June 20, 2009.

Early-booking Scandinavia sailing from $349
Leaving from Stockholm, Sweden on August 7, 2009, this 4-day Scandinavian excursion will first anchor in Visby, Sweden. Located on the island of Gotland, Visby is surrounded by a 13th century stone wall that was named one of the “Seven Wonders of Sweden.” The city is also famous for its narrow cobbled streets and ancient churches like the beautifully restored Cathedral of St. Mary's. After exploring Visby, spend a day at sea before the next stop in Scandinavia’s oldest capital — Oslo, Norway. Most visitors flock to Akershus Fortress, the hilltop castle overlooking the harbor, where guided tours are available though the restored halls and dark dungeons. The final port of call on this voyage is Copenhagen, the “bike city” where visitors can cruise around free of charge on city-owned bicycles. Interior cabins begin at $349, with oceanview staterooms available from $449.

7-night Alaska cruise from Seattle in May from $549
Sailing to the last American frontier usually comes with hefty costs, especially since many voyages wrap up in Alaskan cities or Vancouver, requiring passengers to pay for their flights back home, too. However, this 7-night cruise, which sets sail on May 15, 2009, conveniently embarks and disembarks in Seattle, and is priced from just $549. Long before Juno (the movie), Juneau, Alaska’s capital city, has been known for its laid-back atmosphere, breathtaking backdrop, and outdoor activities. Following a visit to Juneau, the next stop is Skagway, where tourists can hike the wilderness, visit the Gold Rush National Historical Park, or take a guided tour. Up next is an incredible voyage through Tracy Arm, where passengers can get an up close view of the wildlife as the ship sails through the fjord. The final port of call is Victoria, B.C. before the ship returns to Seattle. Additional embarkation dates onboard theRhapsody of the Seasare also available throughout the summer for this itinerary at slightly higher prices.

The dollars
All quotes are per person and based on double occupancy. Rates cover accommodations, meals and entertainment on the ship. Fees and taxes, as well as shore excursions, personal expenses, alcoholic beverages and tips are additional.

The catch
Book now, many of these sailings have just one embarkation date available!

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Photos: Amazing Alaska

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  1. Mendenhall Glacier

    Located in Mendenhall Valley, the Mendenhall Glacier is a massive glacial system that stretches 120 miles. It is approximately 12 miles long, and 1.5 miles in width at the face. It is located 12 miles from downtown Juneau. (Danny Lehman / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Bald beauty

    A bald eagle dives for dinner in one of the many remote lakes within the Tongass National Forest. With almost 17 million acres, the Tongass is the nation's largest national forest covering most of Southeast Alaska, surrounding the famous Inside Passage. (Ron Sanford / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Scenic adventure

    Experience the panorama of Juneau and the Inside Passage from 1,800 feet above the city on the Mount Roberts Tramway, one of the most visited attractions in Southeast Alaska. (Stuart Westmorland / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Bright nights

    A cruise ship floats on Auke Bay near Juneau, Alaska. The summer sky is still bright at 11:00 p.m. (Bob Rowan / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Flying high

    Take a scenic flight over the 1,500 square mile Juneau Icecap. Flight-seeing tours are the only way to see the glaciers and fields that make up the fifth-largest ice field in the Western Hemisphere. (Lee Cohen / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Awe inspiring

    A humpback whale shows its fluke during a dive while a fishing boat cruises by. Humpbacks may be seen at any time of year in Alaska, but during spring, the animals migrate back to Alaska where food is abundant. Whales seen in Alaska during the summer months are from Hawaii. (Buddy Mays / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Kobuk Valley National Park, Alaska

    Less than 2,000 visitors last year, but almost 500,000 caribou each spring and fall. In other words, the only crowds you’ll experience at Kobuk will likely have antlers and four legs apiece. In fact, this roadless expanse, just north of the Arctic Circle, is so remote that the U.S. Geologic Survey still hasn’t named some of its river drainages. But for those who are prepared for a true wilderness experience, rafting the Kobuk River, hiking the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes or climbing among the Baird and Waring ranges that ring the park can be the adventure of a lifetime. (Tom Walker / AccentAlaska.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Cool city

    A winter view of the Anchorage skyline with the Chugach Range in the background. The Chugach Range forms a 300-mile crescent outside the town of Valdez, Alaska, east of Anchorage. (Robert Olsen / ACVB) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Majestic mountain

    Denali, North America's tallest mountain at 20,320 feet, is visible from Anchorage even though it's 140 miles to the north. (John Brecher) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Reindeer games

    Mel Leskinen, left, talks as Albert Whitehead walks his pet reindeer Star along 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, Alaska, Feb. 2, 2005. Half of the nation's population thinks most of Alaska is covered in ice and snow year-round. One out of every eight believe that the 49th state is either a separate country, a U.S. territory, a commonwealth or just aren't sure. Thanks to a poll commissioned by Gov. Frank Murkowski, Alaskans know a bit better the misperceptions Americans have of their neighbors to the north. (Al Grillo / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Lighten up, moose

    A bull moose with Christmas lights tangled in its antlers rests in a field in Anchorage, Alaska, on Dec. 25, 2005. The lights, which did not seem to bother the moose, could pull off as the he wonders through Anchorage neighborhoods. (Al Grillo / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Wow, that's a snowman!

    A young boy poses in front of a 16-foot tall snowman in a residential neighborhood of Anchorage, Dec. 24, 2005. Thousands of people trekked to the house to see the creation. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. A refreshing ride

    A windsurfer rides the wind as he jumps across waves in the Turnagain Arm south of Anchorage, Alaska on May 18, 2006. (Al Grillo / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. The Iditarod

    Mitch Seavey mushes past a patch of open water on the Yukon River after leaving Ruby, Alaska on Friday, March 12, 2010 during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. (Bob Hallinen / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Glacial beauty

    An iceberg from the Portage Glacier is locked in the frozen Portage Lake south of Anchorage, Alaska in this Jan. 6, 2004 photo. The glacier, which is a major Alaska tourist destination near Anchorage's southern edge, has retreated so far it no longer can be seen from a multimillion-dollar visitors center built in 1986. (Al Grillo / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Artistic awe

    Alaska's favorable climate makes ice carving a popular activity and spectacle for visitors. (Anchorage CVB) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Flight of freedom

    Tom Melius, with the Fish and Wildlife Service, left, Lisa Pajot, second left, and Gary Bullock, second from right, with the Bird and Treatment and Learning Center, and Pat Lampi, with the Alaska Zoo release a bald eagle in Anchorage Alaska Sept. 25, 2006. The eagle was cared for by the Bird and Treatment and Learning Center after it lost its tail feathers and was released after the feathers grew back. (John Gomes / AP file) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Snow-plowed

    Two snowmobiles collide, knocking one rider off, as they race around the track during the Fur Rendezvous Sno-X races in Anchorage, Feb. 26, 2005. The 17-day winter festival includes the World Championship Sled Dog races, dog weight pull, snow sculptures and other events to break up the long Alaska winter. (Al Grillo / AP file) Back to slideshow navigation
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