updated 5/27/2009 11:14:15 AM ET 2009-05-27T15:14:15

The Real Deal: This sail with Holland America from Fort Lauderdale to San Diego or vice versa includes 14 nights' shipboard accommodations, all meals and beverages, activities and entertainment aboard the ship, and monogrammed bathrobes, from $1,199 per person—plus taxes of $275.

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When: Oct. 16, 2009, for the westbound route from Fort Lauderdale to San Diego; Oct. 30 sailing eastbound from San Diego to Fort Lauderdale. This ship alternates west- and eastbound 14-night trans-canal sailings through Nov. 27, 2009, ending in Fort Lauderdale; add $100 for Oct. 1.

The fine print: Airfare is not included. Additional taxes are $275 per person. Airport-port transfers are not included, but they can be booked through the cruise line for roughly $20 per person each way. However, catching a cab to the port might be a quicker and less expensive option. The included meals and beverages exclude any surcharges for specialty restaurants and any type of beverages that must be unbottled or uncorked. Prices are per person based on double occupancy; solo travelers pay $2,398, which is double the starting rate. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.

Book by: No deadline; based on availability.

Contact: Liberty Travel, 877/999-2092, libertytravel.com.

Why it's a deal: Liberty Travel's Panama Canal cruise breaks down to about $105 a night after taxes and includes accommodations, all meals, and onboard entertainment. Plus, Liberty Travel promises to beat any cheaper rate you may find for the same cruise line and itinerary prior to making a purchase by $10 per adult and $5 per child. What's more, they'll throw in a $50 voucher towards you next trip. You can find more details here. Cruise rates fluctuate based on factors like cabin availability, and it's worth shopping around by searching comparable cruises on sites like Kayak before you book.

At press time, we actually found a similar 14-night cruise listed on Kayak for a lower starting price of $949 on Celebrity X Cruises. Don't just consider price, however—look at the inclusions and consider the personality of the cruise lines in question. Holland America has a reputation as a historic, elegant cruise line with nice touches and traditions like afternoon tea. See Cruise Critic's Holland America review for more background.

Itinerary: The ship sets sail from Fort Lauderdale at 5 p.m. Cruise for two nights before arriving in Oranjestad, Aruba. Sail through the Panama Canal, passing by Cristobal and Balboa before reaching Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica, for a daylong visit.

You'll also make stops in Huatulco, Acapulco, and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, before arriving in San Diego, where you'll disembark. You'll arrive at each stop between 7 and 11 in the morning and depart between 3 and 5 in the afternoon on the same day.

Lodging: Fourteen nights in an interior stateroom aboard the 720-foot-long, 1,258-passenger Holland America Statendam. More than $2 million worth of art and artifacts are on view throughout the ship, whose amenities include various restaurants and lounges, a spa, a pool, and a culinary arts center. Ocean-view rooms start at $1,399 per person; rooms with a balcony start at $2,999; and suites start at $5,999.

More: If you're looking for something longer, Holland America is offering a 15-night sail on Oct. 1 starting at $1,299, as well as a 28-night option, which starts at $2,399 and departs on Oct. 30. Check Holland America's Web site for a complete list of available optional activities.

Copyright © 2012 Newsweek Budget Travel, Inc.

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