updated 9/24/2009 12:04:05 PM ET 2009-09-24T16:04:05

Book by: Sept. 30
Travel by: Nov. 22

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The deal
The holiday season is quickly approaching and even though it’s considered the most wonderful time of the year, it can definitely take a toll on us. A great way to escape the chaos is by taking a cruise on the calm waters of the Rhine River in Europe. Viking River Cruises is currently offering five relaxing sailings on this famed river with a special 2-for-1 pricing. All five itineraries include stops at charming, old-fashioned Christmas markets where passengers can buy beautiful handmade crafts, tasty treats like gingerbread cookies, and other must-have Christmas-themed items.

Our editors found a spectacular nine-day cruise that will give passengers the biggest bang for their buck. The Viking Helvetia sets sail from Amsterdam on Nov. 22, includes nine guided tours, and will take you to two exciting countries. The first port of call is Cologne, a cultural hub of the Rhineland. Here, passengers can visit museums, the famous Kölner Dom cathedral, and shop at the Christmas markets, which open for the season on Nov. 23. The ship’s next stop is Rüdesheim — a town well-known for its winemaking, as well as having one of the largest Nativity scenes in Europe. On the sixth day, the Viking Helvetia visits Mannheim and Heidelberg where guests can see the stunning Neckar River Valley and visit the sandstone ruins of Heidelberg Castle. The next day the ship calls on Mainz and Koblenz which features even more festive, quaint markets. And, before returning to Cologne, passengers will visit Bonn for a guided half-day tour of the city which includes a visit to the legendary Beethoven House.

This sailing is priced from as low as $1,214. Deluxe staterooms are priced only $250 more at $1,464.

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
The price does not include airfare from the United States to Europe, which could cost an additional $1,200.

The details
To book your Rhine River cruise, visit vikingrivercruises.com/us/.

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