updated 8/26/2009 9:22:09 AM ET 2009-08-26T13:22:09

Book by: ASAP
Travel by: Dec. 11, 2009

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The deal
December is a busy month, and with all of the holiday chaos, it’s also a great time to use up those vacation days that you’ve been stockpiling.

Plus, nothing clears the mind like a tropical getaway — especially when the price is right. Rates on Caribbean cruises drop dramatically during the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, like this 10-night Holland America voyage that is priced over 50 percent off brochure rates. To top it off, the itinerary is far from ordinary, with seven port stops including both popular and lesser-known Caribbean islands.

The ms Statendam sets sail from Fort Lauderdale December 11, and after spending two days at sea, the ship arrives in the bustling port town of Philipsburg on Dutch-owned St. Maarten. Next up, it calls on the stunning island of St. Lucia, consisting of tropical foliage and towering mountains. After that is a visit to Bridgetown, Barbados, where traces of the island’s British influence can be found, as well as a laid-back beach vibe.

The Statendam then sails on to Pointe-a-Pitre in Guadeloupe which is well known for its lively outdoor markets and French boutiques. Before returning to Fort Lauderdale, passengers will also experience the white-sand beaches of St. Thomas, in the Virgin Islands, and the popular port of Nassau, in the Bahamas. Interior cabins are priced from just $576, with ocean view staterooms available starting at $670.

The dollars
All prices are per person and based on double occupancy. Accommodations, meals, some beverages, entertainment and port charges are covered in the cost. Government fees and taxes as well as off-boat expenditures are extra.

The catch
Beach towels not included.

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