The Real Deal: Round-trip airfare on a major carrier, 14 nights' accommodations on a cruise ship, pre- and post-cruise accommodations in Sydney and Auckland, all transfers, and all meals and nonalcoholic drinks, from $2,449 per person — plus about $543 in taxes.
When: Feb. 1, 2009.
Gateways: L.A.; add $250 for Chicago, $400 for New York City.
The fine print: Does not include government and departure taxes, hotel taxes, and fuel surcharges, totaling about $543 per person. Based on double occupancy; single supplement is $1,490. U.S. citizens will need a valid passport for travel; a visa is not required. 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: Consider that you'll have everything you need — plane tickets, transfers, pre- and post-cruise accommodations, and everything on the cruise ship provided — in this one booking, all for $187 per person per night including taxes. Also consider that if you booked the airfare alone, it would cost $1,695 (we found that in a Kayak search on Air New Zealand).
Trip details: The 14 Night Australian Cruise begins with a flight on major carrier to Sydney. Upon arrival, you'll be transferred to the Quality Hotel Cambridge, with 170 rooms and a swimming pool, for the first night's stay.
The next day, you'll be transferred to the dock to board the Celebrity Millennium. The ship holds more than 2,000 passengers and has a casino and a theater that puts on Broadway-style productions. The starting price of $2,449 is for an interior stateroom; you can upgrade to an outside stateroom for $197 per person, or to a balcony stateroom for $600 per person.
During the 14-night cruise, you'll see plenty of Australia and New Zealand. The first port of call is Phillip Island, Australia, an area near Victoria that is known for its nature parks and indigenous penguins.
You'll have time for a full day of exploring on your own at several ports of call (no guided shore excursions are included). In Australia, you'll stop in Melbourne and in Hobart on the island of Tasmania. In New Zealand, you'll stop in Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, and Tauranga. Another highlight is the volcanic White Island, the largest of four islands making up the Olive chain in the Bay of Plenty. See the full itinerary here.
The last port of call is in Auckland, New Zealand. Upon arrival, you'll be picked up and transferred to the Spencer on Byron. The hotel has tennis courts and a pool and is near a shopping district. After your one-night stay, it's back on the plane to the States.