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Netherlands and Belgium cruise, from $2,395

Spend 10 nights aboard a river cruise ship, with tour stops to see several cute towns famous for their pubs, chocolate shops and Gothic and Renaissance churches.
/ Source: ARTHUR FROMMER'S BUDGET TRAVEL

The Real Deal: Round-trip airfare on a major carrier, 10 nights' accommodations on a cruise ship, transfers, sightseeing tours, and all meals and beverages, from $2,395 per person — plus $430 in taxes and port charges.

When: March 15, 2009; add $100 for March 25, April 4, 5; $200 for April 15; $400 for April 25, 26; $700 for May 6; and $900 for April 14, 16.

Gateways: New York City; add $100 for Boston; $200 for Baltimore, Chicago, D.C., Philadelphia; $300 for Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Miami, Minneapolis, Orlando, Tampa; $400 from Atlanta, Denver, L.A., San Francisco, Seattle.

The fine print: The hefty additional costs are $145 in port charges and $285 in government taxes and fees. Based on double occupancy; single supplement from $958. Note that you can book the cruise without airfare from $1,545. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.

Book by: Feb. 16, 2009.

Contact: Grand Circle Travel, 800/959-0405, gct.com.

Why it's a deal: The trip costs breaks down to $283 per person per night, including all taxes. Consider that the price includes almost all your travel needs — meals and beverages, some sightseeing, accommodations, transfers, and airfare. Also know that you'll be getting award-winning service: Grand Circle Travel was recently named the World's Leading River Cruise Operator in the 2008 World Travel Awards.

Lodging: You'll stay on one of five ships, depending on your cruise date. Ships hold 120 to 164 passengers, and all cabins have a picture window, a TV, a phone, and a private bath with a shower. Most decks include a balcony, too. Take a virtual tour of the ships here.

Itinerary: After an overnight flight into Brussels, you'll be transferred to the ship in Antwerp, a 40-minute ride. There's an included tour of Antwerp before you depart to Terneuzen (where you'll get a tour of nearby Ghent). Your other ports of call are Veere, Rotterdam, Kinderdijk, Schoonhoven, Amsterdam, Hoorn, and Enkhuizen. There are usually tours at each port; see the detailed itinerary here.

More: Add more sightseeing tours during the river cruise at rates that start at $60 per person. Add a pre-trip stay in Belgium or a post-trip stay in Amsterdam for $595 per person.

Before you go: U.S. citizens will need a valid passport for travel; a visa is not required. The spring weather in the area will be cool (an average of 48 degrees Fahrenheit) and a little wet.