updated 5/4/2010 8:59:24 AM ET 2010-05-04T12:59:24

Book by: May 30

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Travel by: October 29

The deal: Summer is prime sailing season for Mediterranean cruises, meaning there are plenty of unique itineraries to choose from, but all at higher costs. Average rates on cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, MSC, and Norwegian hover around $800-$1,400 for a seven-night cruise — and the ship will be packed with thousands of other passengers.

Variety Cruises is offering a summer cruise sale on its yacht-like vessels (carrying 4-24 cabins) that brings the total cruise fare down to less than rates on mega-ships (and you can’t put a price tag on peace and quiet). 

Companion travelers can save 50 percent on the Aegean Odyssey, Jewels of the Cyclades, Classical Greece, and Tales of the Adriatic cruise programs, plus guests receive a two-night stay at an Athens hotel, or a $140 ship credit on select itineraries.

Rates start at $1,530/person (or $1,148/person after discount) for the Jewels of the Cyclades itinerary which includes visits to Santorini, Mykonos, and other sparkling islands in the Aegean Sea. In addition to these savings, the cruise line is waiving the single-traveler supplement. This offer expires May 30.

About the cruise line: Founded in 2005, Variety Cruises offers sailings to lesser-visited ports in the Mediterranean, with a wide range of cruising options from inexpensive, casual cruises to sophisticated yachts that take you off-the-beaten path. Its fleet consists of 15 fully-owned vessels, making it the largest world-wide small-ship company.

The dollars: Rates are per person and include meals and unlimited beverages. Shore excursions and gratuities are additional.

The catch: Airfare to the embarkation port is not included.

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