updated 10/5/2009 12:57:35 PM ET 2009-10-05T16:57:35

The Real Deal: Fourteen nights in a river-view stateroom on the lower deck (category 3) aboard the 128-passenger River Baroness and the 132-passenger River Royale; all meals onboard with wine, beer and soft drinks during dinner; onboard entertainment; two lectures; 12 shore excursions, including a walk to Château-Gaillard, a day trip to the beaches of Normandy, a visit to Monet's home village Giverny, tours of Paris and Lyon, and a wine tasting and a walking tour in Tournon; use of bicycles; and airport-port transfers in Paris and Arles, from $3,599 per person — plus port charges of $196.

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When: Depart March 20, Oct. 30, 2010; add $250 for April 3; $450 for April 17; $500 for June 26, July 10, 24, Oct. 16; $800 for May 1; $900 for May 15, 29, June 12, Aug. 7; $1,000 for Oct. 2; $1,100 for Aug. 21, Sept. 4, 18. The listed departure dates are from your gateway city in the U.S.; the ship sets sail the following day.

The fine print: A $500 per person discount for payments made in full at the time of booking is included in the starting rate of $3,599. The $500 discount is valid for category 2 and 3 staterooms on the lower decks. Port charges are an additional $196 per person. Based on double occupancy; single supplement is $2,399. Airfare is not included. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.

Book by: Oct. 31, 2009 to receive the $500 pay-in-full discount. If you book and make a deposit by Nov. 30, 2009, you'll receive a $250 per person discount. For bookings made after that date, the rate is $4,099.

Contact: Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, 800/733-7820, uniworld.com.

Why it's a deal: This Uniworld cruise breaks down to about $257 a night and covers accommodations in a river-view cabin, all meals, most beverages, onboard entertainment and lectures, shore excursions with audio headsets, the use of bicycles, transfers, and the services of English-speaking local guides and ship staff. This package is less about bottom-of-the-barrel pricing than about a high-quality, curated cruise experience now available at a $500 per person discount (if you pay by October 31). Uniworld has a decades-long reputation for small, upscale river cruises.

More: Some departures offer a reverse itinerary from Arles to Paris. Optional activities, such as visits to Versailles or to an olive farm, can be booked when you're on board. Upgrade to a category 2 stateroom for an extra $500 per person or to a category 1 room on the promenade deck for $950 per person. If you choose category 1, pay in full by Oct. 31, 2009, to get a discount of $1,000 per person. Extend your time in Paris with a package that includes three nights at Le Méridien Etoile (or a similar property), breakfast daily, a tour of Paris, and transfers, from $999 per person. Add a visit to London for $799 per person, including Eurostar train travel from Paris, three nights at the Crowne Plaza London-St. James hotel, breakfast daily, a London tour, and transfers.

Copyright © 2012 Newsweek Budget Travel, Inc.


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