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Sail the stunning Panama Canal for less

/ Source: Sherman's Travel

Book by:ASAP
Travel by: Various through February 2009

The deal
Every self-respecting cruise fan must sail the stunning Panama Canal at least once in their lifetime. These cruises don’t come cheap so we’ve rounded up a couple of remarkable deals that will get you sailing Panama as well as the sunny shores of Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean for less. Pick between a voyage on the new Norwegian Pearl next fall; Holland America’s Rotterdam next December; or the five-star Crystal Symphony in February 2009. Rates start as low as $1,579 and discounts run as high as 48 percent!

Panama Canal odyssey on Norwegian Pearl
Next fall, on September 21, the new Norwegian Pearl sets sail on a 19-night Panama Canal eastbound odyssey. This cruise is now on sale by CruisesOnly for only $1,579 in an interior cabin (just $2,149 in oceanview). This low price reflects a serious discount, of 34 percent off rack rates. The ship departs from Seattle, Washington toward Miami. En route, it visits a wide number of destinations including San Francisco and Los Angeles in California; Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco in Mexico; the Panama Canal; Colombia’s Cartagena; as well as the Caribbean islands of Aruba and Curaçao on the way back to Florida. Eight days at sea are also covered by this itinerary.

Holland America voyage aboard Rotterdam
Another epic Panama Canal voyage is on sale by Orbitz: a 16-night cruise aboard Holland America’s Rotterdam for $1,599 in an interior cabin. Departing in December from San Diego to Fort Lauderdale, this sea journey has been reduced in price by 36 percent. Oceanview units on this elegant ship go for just $1,699. Even balconied staterooms are affordable, priced at $3,799. The cruise takes in five Mexican ports of call (Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Manzanillo, Huatulco, and Puerto Chiapas) as well as Puntarenas in Costa Rica and the island of Aruba. Seven days at sea and one day of sailing the Panama Canal are also thrown in.

Panama cruise on Crystal Symphony
We also found an early-bird deal on Vacation Outlet that saves you 48 percent off brochure rates for an 11-night Panama Canal voyage next February, aboard Crystal Symphony. Departing from Costa Rica toward Miami, this five-star ship visits several Caribbean islands — including Aruba, St Maarten, St. Barths, and Tortola — in addition to crossing the Panama Canal. Oceanview staterooms on this exclusive vessel have been reduced from a hefty $6,295 to just $3,300. Even the balconied units now sell for less — just $5,000! You’ll have five entire days at sea to take advantage of all the delightful bells and whistles aboard Crystal Symphony.

The dollars
The rates above are listed per person, based on double occupancy. The cost covers onboard accommodations, meals and entertainment, as well as port charges. You’ll just have to dish out extra for government taxes and fees.

The catch
Each one of these sailings involves quite a long wait.

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