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Sail away to South America

Save more than 50 percent on this two-week cruise that sails from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Punta del Este, Uruguay, and Valparaíso, Chile, with fjords and otherworldly landscapes along the way.
Obelisk on Avenida 9 de Julio
The Infinte South America cruise package sails from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Punta del Este, Uruguay, and Valparaíso, Chile, with fjords and otherworldly landscapes along the way.Dennis Degnan/Corbis
/ Source: ARTHUR FROMMER'S BUDGET TRAVEL

The Real Deal: Round-trip airfare, 14 nights' accommodations aboard the Celebrity Infinity, round-trip transfers, and all meals and beverages, from $2,199 per person—plus taxes and fuel surcharges of about $445.

When: March 1–15, 2009.

Gateways: Miami; add $150 for New York City; $300 for Houston, L.A.; $375 for Chicago, Phoenix, Seattle; additional gateways are available.

The fine print: The starting rate is based on accommodations in an inside cabin. All meals, nonalcoholic beverages, and transfers from the Buenos Aires airport to the ship and from the port in Valparaíso to the Santiago airport are included. Taxes and fuel surcharges are an additional $445 per person. Based on double occupancy; single supplement is $599. Passengers aged 55 or older may deduct $100 per person off the inside- or outside-cabin rate. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.

Book by: No deadline; based on availability.

Contact: Travel Themes and Dreams, 877/870-7447, travelthemesanddreams.com.

Why it's a deal: According to a recent search on Kayak, the lowest multicity fares from Miami—arriving in Buenos Aires and departing from Santiago—start at $806 including tax for travel in March (multiple carriers). For an additional $1,838, the Travel Themes and Dreams offer covers airfare as well as 14 nights aboard the Infinity cruise ship, all meals and beverages, round-trip transfers, and all taxes and fuel surcharges. Not to mention that you'll be saving more than 50 percent off the original rate for this package and be benefiting from the ease of one-stop shopping.

Trip details: The Infinte South America cruise package begins with a flight to Buenos Aires on an American Airlines or LAN Chile carrier. Upon arrival, you'll be transferred to the port to board the 2,046-passenger, Infinity for the 14-night voyage from the Argentine capital to Valparaíso, Chile. (There are seven daylong stops along the way.) You'll stay in an inside stateroom; add $300 per person to upgrade to an outside cabin or $500 per person for a room with a balcony.

Passengers can get pampered at Aquaspa, stroll through the ship's conservatory—a botanical garden with a collection by the floral designer Emilio Robba—or dine at the SS United States restaurant. An expansive library and an Internet cafe will also be at your disposal.

The first two ports of call are in Uruguay: the capital, Montevideo, followed by Punta del Este, a glam resort area with miles of beaches.

The ship docks next in Puerto Madryn, a city in the region of Patagonia, known for its varied wildlife and dramatic landscapes. You'll also have time to explore Ushuaia, one of the world's southernmost cities.

Sail on past Chile's Cape Horn, part of the Hermite Islands in the Tierra del Fuego archipelago, and Punta Arenas, a settlement on the Strait of Magellan. Crossing the strait, you'll continue through the Chilean Fjords before arriving in Puerto Montt. After spending a morning and an afternoon here, you'll return to sea for an overnight sail to Valparaíso, where you'll transfer to the airport in Santiago to catch your homebound flight.

If you'd like more time to explore Buenos Aires, you can add a pre-cruise extension package for an additional $299 per person, which includes two nights (from Feb. 27 to Mar. 1, 2009) at the downtown Reino del Plata or a similar class hotel, buffet-style breakfasts, a four-course traditional Argentine dinner with wine and a tango show, a city tour, and transfers from the airport to the hotel and from the hotel to the port.

Or you could opt for a similar South American Odyssey cruise package featuring round-trip airfare, 14 nights aboard Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Sun, and most meals and beverages, plus one night at a hotel in Buenos Aires. Departure dates are Nov. 23 and Dec. 7, 2008; Jan. 4, 18, and Feb. 15, 2009. Rates start at $2,299 per person, not including taxes of about $457. (Single supplement is $849.)

For more on what to expect, visit the official tourism Web sites for Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay.