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As a kid, my favorite arcade game was Cruis'n USA. Despite the name, cruise ships were not involved; instead, you sped along in a De Luxe Ford through American landscapes. As an adult, I'm able to take non-virtual trips farther afield and for longer periods of time, which is helpful since deals on actual cruises — departing to the Caribbean and the Mediterranean from various points across the country — spring up every day. In fact, some of the best budget-friendly voyages we've found leave soon, so now is an excellent time to put those Cruis'n USA racing skills to use ... so you can make it to the nearest port of call, ASAP.
Just get in the car and go, running down the dock — bags waving to get the captain's attention — to catch the ship that departs September 9 from Port Canaveral, FL, for a 4-night Carnival Cruise Bahamas cruise for two (from $318, a low by $210; expires September 9). This Editors' Choice deal is bundled with a room upgrade that'll let you relax in the best cabins and say things like, "Meet me for drinks and a game of backgammon on the veranda" between days on the beaches of Freeport and Nassau. If you need some more time to prepare for a seabound adventure, this deal is also available on a cruise that departs December 9; either way, these cruises are available at the lowest rate we've seen for any 4-night Bahamas cruise this year.
Can't swing the time off work so soon? Take advantage of a similar Editors' Choice deal from Norwegian Cruise Line. This 3-night Bahamas cruise for two includes a $25 onboard credit and complimentary bottle of wine (from $338, a low by $25; expires September 30). Fly into Miami, FL a day or two before shipping out — to get into a vacationer's frame of mind — and then indulge in the sand, surf, and nightlife of Great Stirrup Cay and Nassau.
While racing through the streets, screeching to a stop, and throwing car keys at a parking attendant before running toward the gangplank probably works in Florida, such behavior won't fly in New York. Spending a night in lockup for pretending to be a race car driver will not result in any good stories. But this 7-night Norwegian Cruise Line Bermuda cruise for two (from $858, a low by $75; expires September 30) might. This deal includes a $75 onboard credit to spend between New York, NY and the trip's single stop in King's Wharf, Bermuda. Once there, let the the mild climate and beautiful surroundings take you in while touring historical sites, viewing artifacts of the Royal Navy and other mariners, and shopping for British goods at the Royal Navy Dockyards.
If the idea of British goods has you jonesing for a vacation in Europe, then head to Southampton, England. After carefully navigating the port's "echelon parking" in a rented vehicle, hop aboard this 13-night Celebrity Cruises transatlantic cruise for two (from $1,498, a low by $100; expires September 10). It includes stops in France's bustling ports of Le Havre and Cherbourg, and the picturesque Ponta Delgada in Azores. (The journey concludes in Fort Lauderdale, FL.)
Or fly into Madrid and drive from there along Spain's Mediterranean coast to Barcelona, where a 7-night Norwegian Cruise Line Mediterranean cruise for two (from $998, a low by $360; expires September 10) departs on October 14. With stops in Italy — Naples, Civitavecchia, and Livorno — and in France at Cannes and Marseille, there will be more fine art and fine dining experience at each port than time ashore allows. And the $50 onboard spa credit and free bottle of wine included with this deal ensure that time aboard the ship is relaxing. These perks should also help speed your recovery after hustling from Marseille's historic prison, the Chateau d'If, to the countless piazzas and churches of Naples.
Regardless of the destination, these cruise deals help shift your vacation plans into high gear. So take two weeks or three days and sail a bit of the world. But if your idea of the perfect vacation doesn't include floating upon the sea (maybe you get seasick?), then be sure to check out our other travel deals for more destinations and sales.
At the time of publication, these travel deals offered the lowest prices we could find. Deals may include blackout dates, additional taxes, and fees. Some of our prices may be based on mandatory double occupancy.
Top photo credit: Cruise Critic