updated 2/7/2008 11:15:41 AM ET 2008-02-07T16:15:41

Book by: ASAP
Travel by: Varies through September

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The deal
There's little doubt that a cruise craze has swept the nation — some of us were born with seafaring souls, some of us love cruising to discover ports of call, while still others are in it for the hassle-free vacation that only a cruise can provide. The catch, however, is finding the time to make our deck-time dreams a reality. Well, happily your ship's come in, as we've found four great-value short cruise vacations that won't use up your vacation time or the contents of your wallet, since prices start at just $199 for 3- to 5-night cruises.

Western Caribbean on Carnival from $199
How about a quickie cruise around the Western Caribbean? You can snag a 4-night Carnival sailing at 77 percent off brochure prices from Cruises.com. This sea voyage departs from Miami and visits Key West and Cozumel on multiple dates through September 2008 (the cheapest sailing, at $199, is the last one of the year, departing September 15). The regular price is $849, but with this deal, you can pay as little as $199 for an inside cabin, $249 for oceanview, and $589 for a suite! Plus, peak-season rates are equally affordable, from $279 in February and March.

Hawaii to Los Angeles on Norwegian from $199
If you're able to get away at the last-minute, jump on this superb repositioning cruise deal, departing Hawaii's Honolulu on Monday, February 4, and arriving in Los Angeles on Saturday, February 9. This singular cruise has been reduced to an unheard of $199 for an inside cabin, with oceanview and balcony cabins priced at an equally affordable $100 more apiece ($299 and $399, respectively); suites are already sold out. For the price, you'll get 5 nights at sea on Norwegian's Pride of Hawaii.

Baja Mexico on Carnival for $209
For a short sail around Mexico’s Baja peninsula, consider CruisesOnly's 4-night deal, also on Carnival, departing California’s Long Beach on 4 dates from just $209 in February. Prices are 75 percent off rack rates of $849 and get you aboard Carnival’s Paradise to call at California’s Catalina Island and Mexico's Ensenada, plus enjoy a day at sea on the way home. Want to splurge? Oceanview cabins start at just $239 and suites are available from $599.

The Bahamas on Disney for $429
To sail the tropical shores of the Bahamas with the family at a great discount, book the reduced 3-night cruise we found on Orbitz. This Disney extravaganza has 3 February departures, with the last one, on February 28, now reduced to a mere $429, 58 percent off rack rates (of over $1,000). The Disney Wonder takes off from Florida’s Port Canaveral and includes a full day in the Bahamian capital of Nassau and another on Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay. Cabins are already filling up fast, and the February 7 sailing is almost sold out!

Mediterranean on Royal Caribbean from $449
We've also found an excellent 4-night sampler cruise from Barcelona to 2 fantastic offshore Spanish islands, Ibiza and Mallorca, on 3 dates this May and June. Priced from just $449 for an inside cabin, the rates work out to just over $100 night for this top-shelf sailing on Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas. Oceanviews are already selling out, but you can upgrade to one from $699 on the May 29 and June 12 sailings (definitely a smart splurge).

Want more ideas?
See our top 10 short cruise vacations.

The dollars
The rates above are listed per person, based on double occupancy. The cost covers onboard accommodations, meals and entertainment, as well as port charges. You’ll just have to dish out extra for government taxes and fees, any shore excursions, and, of course, flights to and from your departure port.

The catch
Don’t wait to book — these deals will sell out fast!

ShermansTravel is a guide to top travel deals and destinations. Sign up for Sherman's Top 25 e-newsletter which features the best editor-screened deals from hundreds of travel providers and is delivered to over 4 million subscribers, free, each week. ShermansTravel also publishes trip ideas and travel features to inspire, guide, and go.

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