advertisement

Not sure whether you want to cruise or stay in a city? This package, Malaga Escape and Lisbon Cruise from TourCrafters (tel. 800/482-5995; www.tourcrafters.it), offers the best of both worlds in a Mediterranean backdrop to that'll make you jaw drop: seven nights from $1,299 per person for fall travel.

When you arrive in Malaga, you'll board the Empress that evening for the following four nights. In the morning you'll arrive at Portimão in the Algarve, well known to sailors. You can explore at your leisure this beautiful coastline. During the next two days the ship sails to Lisbon and then Tangier. In each of these cities you have the option to explore at your leisure or take excursions to sights and attractions (i.e., shrine of Fatima in Lisbon, Tetouan and his Castle in Tangier.)

When you end back up in Malaga, in the heart of the Andalusia region of Spain, you'll stay for three nights at the four-star Hotel Tryp Almeda and have plenty of time to explore the city and region at your leisure. Take advantage of the hop-on, hop-off sightseeing bus ticket that comes with the package to orient yourself; the hotel is a quick train ride to the center of the city. In terms of weather, the Costa del Sol is called that for a reason -- it's sunny most days of the year and the spring and fall are typically lovely times to travel, as it's not as hot and crowded as the summer. Whatever you do while in Malaga, don't miss the museum dedicated to the city's most famous son -- Pablo Picasso. And it's hard to walk very far without stumbling into one of the city's 1,001 tascas (tapas bars).

If you want to book tours and excursions to nearby attractions and destinations, that's possible, too: Granada (add $120), Gibraltar (add $70) or Ronda (add $60).

Plenty of departures are available for this trip if you can't make it for the lowest advertised price: October 4, 12, 20, and 28 are priced from $1,345; September 30 and October 8, 16 and 24 are priced from $1,399.

What the advertised price gets you: Round-trip airfare from New York to Malaga; fuel surcharge; a 5 day/4 night cruise (drinks included) on the Empress with standard inside cabin accommodations; two transfers, three nights accommodations in Malaga, three buffet breakfasts, sightseeing bus ticket, shopping discounts, free wine and tapas at El Corte Ingles, land taxes and service charges.

What else you will have to pay: Government and air taxes of approximately $115 and port taxes/fees of €140 (approximately $198).

Book by: June 15

When: November 1; November 5 and 9 are priced from $1,266

Other details: This trip does not have a single supplement price; it's only offered based on double occupancy. Prices go up after June 15; if you book by July 30, the standard package with an inside cabin goes up to $1,389-$1,529. Add on fares from other cities are possible: Boston and Washington, D.C. (from $30); Chicago, $45; Miami ($150). A special price is available for child travelers, too -- an infant sharing the cabin with two adults cost $133 extra (no airplane seat needed); a child 2-11 traveling with two adults and sharing the cabin costs $480 plus the taxes and port fees.