The Real Deal: 14 nights aboard a cruise ship and all meals, from $1,479 per person—plus an estimated $167 in taxes.
When: Sept. 12, 2008.
The fine print: 14 nights aboard a cruise ship, all meals, and 24/7 room service are included. Taxes are an additional $167 per person, plus $140 for fuel surcharges. Based on double occupancy; single supplement starts at $1,479. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.
Book by: No deadline; based on availability.
Contact: CruiseStar.com, 800/662-5450, cruisestar.com.
Why it's a deal: Although this cruise does not include airfare, all your meals, transportation, and entertainment will be provided when you get on the ship. The cost breaks down to about $106 per night. Plus, cruisestar.com is offering a $50 onboard credit for inside cabins and a $100 credit for oceanview cabins, good for any incidentals onboard and for the day excursions.
Trip details: The Ultimate Alaska Cruise includes 14 nights on the Radiance of the Seas, during which you can take advantage of the rock-climbing wall, full-size basketball court, swimming pools, and a solarium decorated with an African theme. The lowest-price cabins are interior staterooms—you'll have two twin beds that can convert into a queen, a sofa, TV, and private bathroom (total area is 165 square feet). Upgrade to an ocean view room for $120 or a deluxe ocean view with balcony for $670.
You'll depart from Vancouver, B.C., at 5 p.m., and sail north to Ketchikan, Alaska, the salmon capital of the world. You'll spend the day here and could choose to visit Totem Bight State Historical Park, which has a beautifully preserved clan house; or hike up Deer Mountain to take in the 360-degree views.
Farther north, you'll disembark in the Alaskan capital, Juneau. A few must-sees are the St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, which houses artwork and artifacts dating back to the 1800s; Mendenhall Glacier is approximately 12 miles long and 1.5 miles wide and makes for a beautiful photo op. Plus, you can ride the Mount Roberts Tramway and make the six-minute trek to the top of Mount Roberts, 1,800 feet above Juneau.
You'll spend the next day in Skagway, known as the Gateway to the Klondike. Here you can hike the Chilkoot Trail, an important access route during the gold rush of the 1890s.
As you are cruising for the next two days, you'll pass by 75-mile-long Hubbard Glacier, the largest tidewater glacier in North America. You'll also see the Icy Strait, an important area for biodiversity in Alaska. Here you have a good chance of seeing endangered humpback whales.
The next port of call is Sitka, which has historic Russian cathedrals and buildings, hiking trails, and a national park. Sitka also boasts the 17-acre Alaska Raptor Rehabilitation Center, which provides medical treatment to almost 200 birds a year, including bald eagles. You can watch the birds-in-residence or stay for an educational program.
You'll spend a day in Seattle, where there's plenty to do. Lively Pike's Place Market (where vendors famously toss fish) the Space Needle, and the Experience Music Project are among the city's best-known attractions
You'll continue on to Astoria, Ore., on the Columbia River, just a few miles off the Pacific Coast. This was an important fur-trading Portland today it offers tour of historic homes or museums, such as the Columbia River Maritime Museum. The two-week voyage concludes with two days at sea, a day in San Francisco, and your arrival in San Diego.
Be sure to pack layers! The weather in mid-September varies greatly between some stops along the route (think San Diego vs. Seattle vs. Juneau). Be forewarned that in southeastern Alaska, temperatures are typically in the mid-50s during the day and cooler at night.
Getting there: The cruise departs from Vancouver and ends in San Diego; airfare is not included. Recent searches on Kayak for mid-September produced the following round-trip multicity fares: $235 from Seattle (Alaska Airlines), $353 from L.A. (United), $384 from Chicago (Frontier), $439 from New York City (Delta), and $459 from Boston (Northwest).