The Real Deal: Round-trip airfare to Ben-Gurion airport on an Austrian Airlines carrier; two nights at Hotel Dan Panorama Tel Aviv, two nights at the Ron Beach Hotel in Tiberias, one night at the Daniel Dead Sea Hotel, and four nights at the Prima Royale Hotel in Jerusalem; eight breakfasts and five dinners; sightseeing tours including Old Jaffa, the Roman ruins at Caesarea, Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, and the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial; entry fees; ground transportation and transfers; the services of an English-speaking tour director; hotel taxes; and fuel surcharges, from $1,899 per person — plus taxes and fees of $135.
When: Depart Dec. 3, 2009; Jan. 21, Feb. 4, 2010; add $100 for Nov. 19, 2009; Feb. 11, 2010; $200 for March 4, 2010.
Gateway: New York City
The fine print: Taxes and fees are an additional $135 per person. Based on double occupancy; single supplement is $499. To participate in the optional excursion to Petra, Jordan, you must obtain a visa at the Jordanian border for an additional $35 per person, which also includes a border-crossing fee. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.
Book by: Sept. 30; add $400 for bookings made after that date.
Contact: SmarTours, 800-337-7773, smartours.com.
Why it's a deal: According to a recent search on Kayak, the lowest-priced round-trip fare from New York City to Israel for travel in early December is $867, with taxes (Turkish Airlines). For an additional $1,167, the SmarTours' package covers international airfare, as well as nine nights' accommodations, some meals, guided sightseeing, admission fees, ground transportation, and the services of a professional English-speaking tour guide to make sure the trip goes smoothly.
More: Optional activities include a Golan and Galilee excursion ($79 per person with lunch) and a trip to Bethlehem to visit the Church of the Nativity ($30 per person). Extend your stay by tacking on a four-night journey to Eilat on the Red Sea for an additional $499 per person for double occupancy; single supplement is $200. While there, you can also take part in the optional full-day excursion to Petra ($159 per person, plus the $35 visa fee).