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Holland & Belgium cruise, 9 nights


The real deal: Nine nights' accommodations aboard the Viking Pride or the Viking Europe, all meals, complimentary wine with dinner, eight guided tours, and port charges, from $1,322 per person—taxes included.

When: March 20, 25, 29, 2010; add $500 for April 3, 7; $800 for April 12, 16, 21, 30.

Gateways: Airfare to Amsterdam is not included in the base price. But you can book airfare through Viking, which offers an early-booking discount of up to 45 percent off. Some round-trip sample prices: $595 for Boston, New York City; $695 for Atlanta, Chicago, D.C.; $795 for L.A., San Francisco, Seattle. These fares include fuel surcharges, taxes and fees, and port transfers, and must be booked by July 31, 2009.

The fine print: Includes all taxes and fees. Based on double occupancy; single supplement starts at $661. Use promo code EBD. A note on beverages: Hot or iced tea and coffee are free with all meals; soda, wine, and beer are available for purchase. This early-booking discount offers wine with dinner as a bonus. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.

Book by: July 31, 2009.

Contact Viking River Cruises, 800/304-9616,

Why it's a deal: The brochure rate for this cruise (the original price) is $2,499 per person. With this early-booking discount, you'll save about 47 percent. Also consider that you get accommodations, guided tours, and all meals for $147 per person per night.

Lodging: The starting price is for a 120-square-foot Category E cabin on the lower deck with a sofa bed, private bathroom, and small outside window. The Viking Pride and the Viking Europe are 150-passenger ships; each has a sundeck with 360-degree views, an observation lounge and bar, a restaurant, and a library.

Itinerary highlights: There's a day in Amsterdam to get acclimated and take a guided walking tour of the city and its famous canals. During the cruise, you'll break for guided walking tours of Hoorn's cobbled streets, Arnhem's 17th-century , Kinderdijk's windmills, Antwerp's Cathedral of Our Lady, and Rotterdam's Keukenhof Gardens, among others.

There's also free time in every port city. On board, you can hang out on the sundeck and take in views of bustling canals, rolling countryside, and lots of windmills and tulip fields.

More: Upgrade to one of the cabins on the middle deck, which have hotel-style beds and panoramic views: A Category D cabin is $500 more per person, a Category C cabin is $700 more, and a Category B cabin is $900 more. Category A cabins are $1,000 more per person and are separate from the public areas, making for more privacy.

The brand-new Viking Legend has different sailing dates and prices but follows the same itinerary—this 189-passenger ship has balcony rooms and better fuel-efficiency.

Before you go: The trip begins and ends in Amsterdam, but transfers to the port aren't included unless you book your airfare through Viking. The city's public transportation system can get you there—single rides start at about $5 (compared to a $40 taxi ride).