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While it might be a bit cold to plan a trip to Central-Eastern Europe for some time in the next few months, there are a handful of specials that favor those who can plan early, often with significant savings.

While it might be a bit cold to plan a trip to Central-Eastern Europe for some time in the next few months, there are a handful of specials that favor those who can plan early, often with significant savings. We've looked at package deals to Germany, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Poland, Hungary and Austria, and in the coming weeks, we'll be looking at the Baltics and the Balkans.

Friendly Planet (tel. 800/555-5765; www.friendlyplanet.com) is offering 11 days from $1,849 for what it calls the Imperial Cities of Central Europe: Budapest, Vienna, Prague and Berlin. The sale price is valid for a savings of up to $600 per couple if you book by December 14 and the lowest advertised price reflects November 14, 2008 departures. The first available departure for 2008 is April 14, advertised at $2,249 if you book by December 14. The package includes roundtrip airfare from New York, fuel surcharges, superior first class hotels, transfers, 12 meals, tours and all intra-Europe ground transportation in a luxury touring coach and an English-speaking tour director. This particular trip provides a combination of leisure time and planned activities and excursions, and you start in Budapest and depart Europe from Berlin.

Gate 1 Travel (tel. 800/682-3333; www.gate1travel.com) offers its 10 day "Crown of Europe" tour that takes you to three nights in Budapest, two in Vienna and three in Prague, valid for travel April 2008-October 2008. There are significant savings available if you book by December 14. The price starts from $1,089 for land only and $1,799 airfare inclusive and reflects travel in November 2008, but early fall and early spring departures also come in under $2,000 per person. Either way, the price includes ten meals, all your transfers, sightseeing fees, local guides, an English-speaking tour manager, airline fuel surcharges and first class accommodations. You can of course book from a different departure gate. Destinations and attractions include Fisherman's Bastion in Budapest, Hofburg Courtyards in Vienna, Telc, Czech Republic and Royal Castle at Hradcany, Prague.

Paul Laifer Tours (tel. 800/346-6314; www.laifertours.com) runs trips to Central and Eastern Europe that put you in central locations with excellent accommodations at a variety of price points to choose from, along with the company's help if you need it. Its Fantastic Warsaw, Krakow and Prague is an eleven-day trip that's priced from $1,119 per person based on January 2-March 19 travel and what the company terms "top value" accommodations. The price includes four nights in Prague, two in Warsaw, three in Krakow, with buffet breakfast daily, all roundtrip airport-hotel transfers, half-day tour in each city with an English speaking guide, and first-class rail tickets between Warsaw and Krakow. The stay can be extended, or you can upgrade to business class, too, if desired.

SmarTours (tel. 800/337-7773; www.smartours.com) has a sale on Ukraine River Cruise and the Black Sea, priced from $2,199 for 13 days. If you reserve by December 21 that price reflects a savings of up to $800 per couple. The price includes roundtrip airfare from New York-JFK to Kiev, eleven nights aboard the MS Dnieper Princess cruise boat, in an outside cabin on the lower deck, with a private bath, 32 meals; onboard entertainment (folklore performances), lectures, and live music; comprehensive sightseeing tours and onshore excursions, and the services of an English-speaking tour guide throughout the cruise. The stops include Kiev, Odessa, Sevastopol and Yalta. The lowest sale price reflects May 11 and September 27, 2008 departure dates; travel is most expensive for June and August departures and goes up to $2,499.

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