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Why not cruise the Panama Canal?

This week, we’re changing the theme up from our usual flight deals, but there’s a good reason for that.

The Norwegian Cruise Line revved up its service from Houston this week for the first time since 2007, and they’ve got an extensive cruise selection over the next several months after some upgrades, like a state-of-the-art ship and 1,700 parking spots at the Port of Houston. With the holidays approaching and cooler weather setting in, there’s no better time to hit the open waters with family and friends.

Here’s a sampling of the cruises you can take from the Houston area.

Norwegian Cruise Line 7-day Western Caribbean (from $279)
This week-long trip stops in Cozumel, Belize and Honduras and is available most weeks through mid-January. Be wary, though, the major holiday week can get much more expensive. However, with 16 dining options and more than a dozen bars on board, you won’t be bored. The balcony (floor-to-ceiling glass doors and a private patio) and the mini-suite (featuring a luxury bath and shower) are probably the best combination of comfort and value.

Carnival 7-day Western Caribbean (from $479)
Houstonians are lucky to have two major ports available for cruise departures. This week-long jaunt leaves from Galveston in early January and also heads toward from Cozumel. From there, though, you get a nice sampling of Jamaica and Grand Cayman island during the trip. With a comedy club, a kids’ camp, a tequila bar and a waterslide on the deck, there’s variety for everyone for some post-holiday relaxing.

Norwegian Cruise Line 19-night Panama Canal cruise (from $1,199)
This three-week trek is not for the faint of heart, but would be an ultimate spring getaway come April. You’ll stop at places like Acapulco, Cabo San Lucas, the Panama Canal, and San Francisco en route to Seattle. The spring season should make for beautiful weather throughout the Gulf of Mexico and the eastern Pacific Ocean. Even balcony or suite accommodations will only run you between $130-$160 a night, a bargain for nearly a month’s worth beautiful views.

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