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Sail Portugal, 9 nights, $1,749


The Real Deal: Seven nights' accommodations aboard a river cruise ship, a two-night stay at a Lisbon hotel, most meals, eight land excursions, and airport transfers, from $1,749 per person — plus taxes of about $290 and fees of $138.

When: March 27, 2008; add $100 for April 3; $200 for April 10, Oct. 30; $300 for April 17; $400 for April 24; additional dates in 2008 available at higher rates.

The fine print: Seven nights' lodging on the ship, a two-night hotel stay, all meals while lodging aboard the ship, two dinners on land, and eight land excursions with the services of an English-speaking tour guide are included. Airport transfers are also included if you arrive and depart during particular time frames. A $5 documents fee, port charges of $84, a $49 fuel surcharge, and gratuities are additional. Airfare is also additional. Cabin upgrades start from $225 per person. Based on double occupancy; single supplement is 60 percent of the cost of the cabin, minus a $150 discount if you book by March 31, 2008. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.

Book by: March 31; afterward, the price increases by $300 per couple. By availability; no last-minute fee or advance-booking time minimum.

Contact: Uniworld, 800/733-7820,

Why it's a deal: This cruise package offers you a $300 per couple discount if you book by the end of March. The package also offers the convenience of planning and including airport transfers, many sightseeing tours, and some meals during your stay.

Details: Uniworld's Douro Valley Cruise package includes seven nights' accommodations aboard the river cruiser Douro Queen.

Eight land excursions with English-speaking guides include tours of Lisbon; Coimbra; Porto, with dinner at the 14th-century Benedictine monastery Alpendurada in Bitetos; Salamanca, Spain; Lamego; Castelo Rodrigo, which features a medieval palace; and the rustic town of Pinhão, which is home to the cedars and box hedges of Mateus Palace Gardens, featuring a port wine tasting at the Vintage House Wine Academy.

Free airport transfers are available if you arrive at the airport on the first day of the Lisbon portion between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. and if you depart on the last day of the cruise between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Otherwise, you must hire a ride yourself.

For more tips on what to do in the area, visit the official Web sites of the tourism boards of Portugal and Spain. You can find the latest exchange rate and the local time at

Your arrival will coincide with the beginning of the high season. Before you go, check the weather forecast.

Getting there: International airfare is not included. In comparison, the lowest round-trip fares (with reasonable layovers) that we recently found on Kayak for Lisbon for April 3 are $616 from New York City (American Airlines), $676 from Boston (American), $766 from L.A. (American), $823 from Houston (multiple carriers), and $847 from Chicago (Iberia).