The deck of the Carnival Paradise, which sails from Los Angeles to Mexico. (Carnival )
Carnival Cruise Lines is offering a Last Sale of the Year,with discounted rates on selected sailings through the end of May. Prices start as low as $219 per person for a three-day cruise to the Caribbean, and did I mention free category upgrades? But you'll need to book by Thursday night.
Now, snagging this deal presumes you haven’t sworn off cruising (or Carnival) after watching umpteen images of the Carnival Splendor, crippled by an engine fire, being stranded at sea and towed ashore. (See an update on canceled Splendor cruises below.)
The deal: Start by looking at the list of cruises and destinations at Carnival’s website. Fares for this sale, also called "November Sale" online, aren't the rock-bottom lowest, but this deal allows you to select your cabin and upgrade to a higher deck of the ship (it's a category upgrade, not a cabin upgrade). To make a reservation for the sale fares, use the code P3D.
When: The offer is good, subject to availability, on select sailings through May 31. But reservations must be made by 9:00 p.m. PST Thursday.
Tested: I checked out a cruise from Los Angeles to Catalina and Ensenada, Mexico, for four days starting Jan. 24. Interior cabins started at $279 and ocean views at $319 (prices are per person based on double occupancy and don't include tax). I selected an interior cabin aboard the Carnival Paradise and upgraded my cabin to the seventh deck (Empress deck).
You can book this deal online, but I had questions about the upgrade, so I wound up calling for information as well. You can also book the deal through a travel agent.
Carnival Splendor update: Carnival on Tuesday canceled all Splendor cruises through Jan. 9 while the ship undergoes repairs. Passengers on those cruises have the option to reschedule to another cruise, hold the payment for a future cruise or receive a full refund of the cruise and air supplement, land packages, etc. All options come with a 25% discount on future cruises.
In addition, Carnival will reimburse up to $200 per person for airline tickets purchased independent of the cruise company. Click here to read the details. The Splendor is expected to return to service Jan. 16.
Contact: Carnival Cruise Lines, (800) 764-7419. Or contact a travel agent.