Top five bargain destinations for winter

You can find luxury cruises for mainstream cruise line prices, and on the more affordable mainstream lines like Carnival and Royal Caribbean, per-day rates are just about as low as they go.

At press time, Carnival was listing discounted sailings such as a six-day Western Caribbean Carnival cruise for $299, or about $50 per day, per person. Considering that price includes food, transportation, accommodations, and many activities, it's an unbeatable deal. On the luxe end, a January sailing on Cunard's Queen Mary 2 cost about $150 per person per day for a 10-night sailing. That's hundreds less per day than you'd normally expect to pay for a trip on one of the world's most famously opulent new ocean liners.

Check the latest reviews of cruise deals to find prices for your dates.

The Rockies

This winter will be a good time to hit the slopes without breaking the bank, especially in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and other Rocky Mountain destinations. According to Travel Weekly (registration required), bookings at ski lodges in the Western U.S. were down almost 20% in September. And accommodations rates have dropped for the first time in almost five years. The phenomenon seems to be regional, since ski destinations within driving distance of more densely populated regions such as New England aren't seeing the same effects as resorts in the Rockies.

United has a ski destination sale to destinations in Colorado and Wyoming, with fares starting at $206 round-trip. And Frontier, whose hub is in Denver, has just ended a sale and will likely have other sales for winter travel soon. Frontier also has ongoing deals for ski vacation packages.

Many ski resorts are already offering discounts and specials as well. For instance, Crested Butte Vacations is offering free lift tickets to guests for booking early-season lodging. Durango Mountain Resort in Colorado has three-day air, hotel, and lift ticket packages from $449 per person. Rates at the Great Divide Lodge in Breckenridge are just $99 per night when booked by December 1. For Utah skiing, you can find all the latest offers from resorts and hotels at Ski Utah. Throughout the Rockies this snowy season, travelers should be able to find good deals. As for good snow ... to know that, we'll just have to wait and see.

Read previous columns

SmarterTravel.com features expert travel advice and unbiased coverage of travel deals.

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