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Sail into seasonal Caribbean bargains

Special to The Times

HOPPING on a cruise ship is one of the more effortless ways to take a vacation. This year the Caribbean is a good buy, with prices dropping for January and early February. If you’re in the market for a last-minute buy, a good place to start is CruiseCompete, www.cruisecompete.com, where discount cruise brokers bid for your business. Four-night cruises to Key West, Fla., and Cozumel, Mexico, start at $239.

* Western Caribbean: Taste the night life of Key West, enjoy the water sports of Grand Cayman or explore the history of Mexico’s Maya ruins. For $239 per person, double occupancy, CruisesOnly is offering a four-night cruise on Carnival’s Fascination; it departs from Miami with stops at Key West and Cozumel. The price includes one full day at sea and all port charges; departures are Jan. 19 and 26. Call (800) 278-4737, www.cruisesonly.com.

For a slightly longer vacation, try GalaxSea Cruises’ seven-day voyage aboard Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas, (800) 662-5450, www.cruisestar.com. The ship departs from New Orleans and stops at Cozumel, Grand Cayman and the Yucatan Peninsula’s Costa Maya with two days at sea. The price -- $499 per person, double occupancy -- includes port taxes and is valid for departures Jan. 17, 24 and 31.

For those with a little extra time, CruisesOnly is selling a 10-day Mexican itinerary for $780, including port charges. Celebrity Cruises’ Mercury departs Jan. 30 from San Diego and stops at Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta, Acapulco and Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa, with four days at sea. Call (800) 278-4737, www.cruisesonly.com.

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* Southern Caribbean: This region is thick with cultural diversity. Choose from the Spanish-speaking Dominican Republic, the Dutch island of Aruba and the French chic of St. Barts.

For a bargain basement cruise, try CruisesOnly’s seven-night sail on Carnival Jubilee, departing from San Juan, Puerto Rico. The price is $349 per person, double occupancy. Port stops are in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; Antigua; St. Lucia; Dominica; and the Dominican Republic. The price is valid for departures Jan. 17, 24 and 31.

Travelers who would like a taste of Europe in the Caribbean might enjoy a seven-night Dawn Princess cruise available from GalaxSea Cruises, (800) 662-5450, www.cruisestar.com. The Princess Cruises vacation costs $399 per person, double occupancy. The ship departs Jan. 18 from San Juan, with stops in St. Thomas, Tortola, St. Maarten, St. Lucia and Barbados. Other departures, at $499, are Jan. 25, Feb. 1 and 8. Prices are per person, double occupancy. Itineraries may include St. Kitts; St. George’s, Grenada; La Guaira, Venezuela; and Aruba.

There’s no need to pay extra to fly to the departure port city with a deal available from CruiseBrothers, (800) 827-7779, www.cruisebrothers.com. It includes just about everything for a bit more than $100 per night. For $849 per person, doubleoccupancy, a seven-night sail on Celebrity’s Galaxy, departing from San Juan, stops in St. Thomas, St. Kitts, Barbados and Margarita Island, Venezuela; it includes round-trip airfare from Los Angeles. The price also includes all port charges and is valid for Jan. 16 and 23 departures.

* Eastern Caribbean: This popular region, which includes islands such as the Bahamas and the U.S. Virgin Islands, offers some great January deals. CruisesOnly has a seven-night sail aboard Carnival’s Triumph for $529 per person, double occupancy. The ship departs from Miami, stopping in San Juan, St. Thomas and St. Maarten. The price includes three full days at sea and port charges, and it is valid for departures on Jan. 17 and 31.


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