Photos: Marvelous Mexico

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  1. Tempting Tulum

    The Mayan City of Tulum, Mexico is located on the Caribbean Sea coast of the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. (Ml Sinibaldi / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. View from Palenque

    Tourists sit atop a pyramid in Palenque, set in the foothills of the Tumbal mountains of Chiapas Mexico. (Marco Ugarte / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Blessings in Chiapas

    A tzotzil child walks in front of the church of San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas. (Matias Recart / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Luxury in Puerto Vallarta

    The terrace on the Celestial Suite is seen at Hacienda San Angel in Puerto Vallarta. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Ancient stories

    This photo shows details of a Maya stone, relating the coming to power of governor Sir Jupiter Humenate and dated 613 AC, found in Tonina, Ocosingo, Chiapas. (Janet Schwartz / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Mexico magic

    Mexico City, the capital city of the nation of Mexico. (Diego Goldberg / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Musical Mexico

    A mariachi band play on a punt at the Floating Gardens of Xochimilco in Mexico City. (Danny Lehman / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Cool Cancun

    Cancun, Mexico is ranked as one of the top international vacation destinations. The beaches of Cancun have been completely restored following damage caused by Hurricane Wilma in 2005. Travelers will find its newly renovated resorts, restaurants, beaches and attractions better and even more accessible than ever. (Business Wire) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Isla bonita

    The ferry landing on Isla Mujeres, Mexico. Isla Mujeres is a tiny island mere miles from the Yucatan coast, and feels a world away from Cancun's hustle and bustle. Isla Mujeres, thriving in its own tourism, manages to maintain the feeling of a small fishing village. (Anja Schlein / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Soccer and bullfights

    Estadio Azul (left), a soccer stadium; and Plaza Mexico, the world's largest bullring, in Mexico City. (Danny Lehman / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Azure Cortez

    People kayak in the Bahia de Loreto National Park, in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico. (Terry Prichard / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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updated 2/17/2009 11:39:18 AM ET 2009-02-17T16:39:18

The deal
The middle of winter is the time when most people yearn to escape to warmer climates. It’s also the time when cruises to tropical beaches are at their highest. Instead of booking a February cruise, we suggest holding out until March when prices begin to fall, but it’s still cold enough outside to make a southern vacation worthwhile.

Our editors have tracked down some wallet-friendly rates starting from $199 on quick four- and five-night beach cruises, just in case you haven’t yet racked up enough vacation days for a longer getaway.

3-night Bahamas cruise from $199
Nothing helps get through the homestretch to spring more than a quick trip to the Bahamas, especially when it’s not costing all of your tax rebates. This three-night cruise onboard the Norwegian Sky is available at up to 76 percent off brochure rates.

Departing from Miami March 20, the first port of call the ship anchors in is the colorful city of Nassau. Here passengers can enjoy beautiful white-sand beaches, or try their luck in one of the Vegas-style casinos. The next stop before returning to Miami is the cruise line’s privately owned island of Great Stirrup Cay, accessible only to Norwegian cruisers. In addition to this great price, this offer includes up to $75 of free onboard spending credits.

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4-night celebrity Caribbean cruise from $299
This 4-night Caribbean cruise departs from Miami March 19, and sails on to the first port of call in the vibrant port city of Key West. During your time here, enjoy a relaxing glass-bottom boat tour, or experience the lively nightlife. After Key West, the recently renovated Celebrity Century makes its way to Cozumel, Mexico, home to some of the most dazzling coral reefs on the planet. This all-star itinerary is available from just $299 for interior cabins, or $399 for oceanview staterooms.

It's A Snap! Readers' best shots

Carnival Mexican Riviera voyage from $249
The Mexican Riviera has found itself on a number of “cruise destinations to watch” lists for 2009. As more cruise ships make their way to this area, it has maintained a traditional feel, while also offering new attractions for tourists, like quiet sidewalk cafes and interesting shops. The first port of call the Carnival Paradise visits is Catalina Island, the tiny rugged paradise just off the coast of California that gives travelers a peak at what Los Angeles may have looked like centuries ago. Next it’s off to the cobblestone streets and surfer-friendly beaches of Ensenada. This four-night cruise sets sail March 2, and also includes up to $500 in onboard spending credits.

Royal Caribbean 4-night cruise to Cozumel
If you’d rather a departure port from Fort Lauderdale, try this four-night cruise onboard Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas starting from just $299. It offers a nice mix of time onboard the ship, and in the port of Cozumel. This beautiful island is ideal for snorkeling and scuba diving, but is also a nature-lovers sanctuary. There are several parks including the recently re-opened Chankanaab National Park, the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve which is home to exotic and endangered species, and the eco-tourist park where visitors can observe wildlife in their natural habitat. The ship sets sail March 5, with additional embarkation dates available throughout the month at slightly higher prices.

The dollars
All prices are per person and based on double occupancy. Accommodations, meals, some beverages, entertainment, and port charges are covered in the cost. Government fees and taxes as well as off-boat expenditures are extra.

The catch
Although these cruises advertise prices lower than the ones we mentioned above, keep in mind that many of those prices aren’t valid until the off-season this fall.

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