The Real Deal: A round-trip sail from Miami with stops in Key West and Cozumel; four nights in an inside stateroom aboard Carnival Cruise Lines' 2,052-passenger Carnival Imagination; all meals; some nonalcoholic beverages, including lemonade, coffee, and tea; live music and entertainment; and port charges, from $209 per person—plus estimated taxes of $52.
When: Jan. 25, 2010; add $10 for Feb. 1, 8, 22; $20 for Jan. 11; $30 for Jan. 18, March 1; $40 for March 8, April 12, 19, 26, May 3; $50 for May 10; $60 for Jan. 4, March 22, May 17, 24; $70 for Feb. 15; additional departure dates available.
The fine print: Additional taxes and fees are about $52 per person. Gratuities are an additional $10 per person per day ($40 per person total) and are charged to the passenger's onboard account. Transfers between the airport and the port are $32 per person round-trip in Miami and $60 per person round-trip in Fort Lauderdale. Based on double occupancy; single supplement is $209. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.
Book by: No deadline; based on availability.
Contact: Cruises for Less, 888/212-7395, cruisesforless.com.
Why it's a deal: The total cruise cost breaks down to about $65 a night and includes accommodations, all meals, some nonalcoholic beverages, entertainment, port charges, gratuities, and taxes. As noted above, the starting price amounts to about 75 percent savings off the published brochure rate. Plus, the company provides a "stateroom guarantee," which means your cabin will be assigned not at the time of booking but closer to the sail date. You will receive a complimentary cabin upgrade, if cabins at a higher category are available.
More: Optional activities include a catamaran sail and snorkeling ($39 per person) and a tour of the Hemingway Home and Museum ($41 per person) in Key West; a ride in the Atlantis Submarine ($85 per person) and an ATV jungle adventure ($95 per person) in Cozumel. Browse the complete list of shore excursions in Key West and Cozumel. Cabin upgrades start at $40 per person for an ocean-view stateroom. Pre- and post-cruise nights start at $80 per person per night at the Hilton Miami Airport.