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Cheap Thrills For Travelers

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With deals like these, you can go first class.

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Editor's Note: This is the first in a series on luxury travel bargains.

When the going gets tough, the tough go first class all the way.

Travel professionals have plaintively declared that their industry might have reached its bottom, meaning it hit an all-time low and now it's stuck there.

The word "staycation" has entered the American vocabulary.

And, whoops! Here comes a swine flu outbreak.

It's time for a little cold-blooded opportunism, as a consumer if not as an investor.

What follows are some examples of currently available travel offers. These are not low-ball deals like "Paris from $199" that strand you in a three-star dump out by DeGaulle Airport. The goal is The Ritz, owned by Marriott (MAR), or at least a level of luxury that in better economic times, is available only at a price that makes you blink.

Any specific offer or date might be gone by the time you click on it. But it probably will be replaced by one that's even more attractive.

Your contributions are welcome: Please click on "Post a Comment" below to share your favorites -- the hotels, cities, or itineraries that you love best when the price is right.

Singles

Abercrombie & Kent is reducing the single supplement by 75% on September departures of an 11-day "Highlights of Egypt" tour that includes a stay at the five-star Mena House near the pyramids in Cairo, and a sail around the sites along the Nile aboard a felucca, with an Egyptologist along to explain it all to you. The firm is offering a variety of savings, including cutting or waiving the single supplement for other tours in the Mideast, India, Southeast Asia, and China on dates through December.

The travel industry still hates single travelers, and shows it by charging them double. But right now, you might find other deals out there, or be able to negotiate one when you book.

Two-Fers

Couples get all the best breaks, but "two-fer" deals are especially sweet now. The luxury line Crystal Cruises has two-for-one deals on all of its sailings for the rest of 2009, and it's throwing in credits for on-board extras worth up to $2,000.

You can take your pick among sailings along the Mediterranean, across the Atlantic, or around the Caribbean.

The luxury all-suite Silversea cruise line is offering 60% off and free airfare to the port on many of its 2010 sailings, if you book by Dec. 31, 2010.

For example, the Silver Cloud is taking an eight-day voyage from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Rio die Janeiro, Brazil, on Feb. 4. The fares are 60% off, ranging from $3,447 to $11,297 depending on the suite you choose, and you get free air fare.

The cheapest suite has only a picture window, but go one level up to the Veranda Suite and you get a teak veranda, a queen bed, a sitting area, and a marble bathroom -- all for $5,318.

(Do you really need the Owner's Suite with two bedrooms, two living areas, and a special "chocolate welcome?" No. We said luxurious, not piggy.)

Note: Cruise fares change literally by the hour. If this deal disappears, play with dates and destinations, and you'll find a similar or better price and wind up in Auckland or Venice.
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