width=2722010 is here and it's time to start afresh. I am sure most of you are reflecting on your life right now. We may all be in different boats, but I'll bet most of you have already resolved to make 2010 a better year.

Where has the time gone? I know the economy has made things tough for everyone, but life goes on and exciting lifetime experiences for you and your loved ones are still important. It may be a little harder to achieve the the good life right now, but it certainly isn't impossible - with a little help from your friends. Let's look at some of the best cruise bargains available now.

It is pretty hard to beat Carnival when it comes to cruise value. Carnival Cruise Lines' Fun-ships comprise the most successful cruise fleet in the world. Why? Because they offer surprisingly high quality in food and service at prices almost any family can afford. Here are some upcoming Carnival cruise bargains:

Without a doubt, one of the best values this season is the Mexican Riviera. I took a Mexican Riviera cruise just last November and I have to say the phrase H1N1 never came up even once. Still, cruises to Mexico are not in the highest demand and the prices reflect that. In this day and age it makes sense to take advantage of such situations. Almost all Mexico cruises are on fire sale this year, and Carnival Splendor is one of the newest, biggest and flashiest ships on this itinerary to Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas.

Right now April 25th is the best week to book Splendor with inside $389 per person, oceanview $514 and balcony $679. The March 7th cruise has inside $429 pp, oceanview $554, balcony $689 pp and suites $1359. The following weeks of March 14th and 21st have similar though slightly higher pricing.

If you are willing to book as far out as next November, you can get this cruise for $329 inside, $469 oceanview and $579 balcony. That is the best deal I see for the entire year. The good thing about booking this far in advance is that you also get the best deals on airfare and hotels, should you need one.

The time to cruise to Mexico is in the winter. It is HOT down south, even in Cabo San Lucas, with a searing dry heat. Also, expect summer prices to go up because the Mexican Riviera is a popular family vacation cruise destination. Plus there are fewer ships going south since many reposition to Alaska for the winter.

Carnival has been offering something different the last few seasons; cruises with lots of ports of call. Of course you want to do this in interesting places, and when it comes to the Caribbean, the southern islands are the most beautiful. You can sail on Carnival Victory from San Juan to St. Thomas, Dominica, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and St. Martin. You are in port every single day of this 7-night cruise.

Right now, the best prices we see on this exotic itinerary are next September starting at $439 inside, $539 oceanview, $689 balcony. You can find plenty of flights directly to San Juan or stopover in Miami.

Now, two rules to remember for cruise pricing are these: the best deals come from being flexible on the sail date. You have to book the cruises that are selling at the best prices and the exact same cruise can fluctuate in price by as much as 100% based on the sail date alone. The second rule is that prices go up as the ship fills up. That's right, waiting for the last minute is going out of style again, most people are back to booking at least four months in advance.

Here is another exotic Carnival cruise, the Victory out of Barbados going to St. Lucia, St. Kitts, St. Martin, San Juan, St, Thomas and Dominica. Some sail dates are already sold out! The lowest price to even get on the ship is $569 and you have to sail within the next 30 days. From there it goes up but there are a few select bargains if you shop different sail dates. So, book early and be flexible.

Feel like trying out Carnival's newest ship, Carnival Dream? The best prices occur just after this coming summer starting September 4th: inside $529, oceanview $749, balcony $879. Dream sails out of Port Canaveral and goes to the Western Caribbean.

Want a newer Carnival ship at a great price? Look at Carnival Liberty sailing out of Miami to the Western Caribbean; Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Jamaica. May 8 you can get an inside cabin from $409, oceanview $549, Balcony $729. But if you wait until next September 25 the prices are $359 inside, $479 oceanview, $619 balcony.

If you want to research any and all of the 15 domestic cruise ports Carnival now has ships sailing from just go to Carnival.com or click on any of the sponsors listed in this newsletter. Any price you see online can be booked directly or matched by any cruise agency, giving you the benefits of personalized service. There are plenty of bargains out there, just remember to be date flexible and book early. By the way, when you book early with Carnival you get a price guarantee, so if the price of cruise later drops you pay the lowest fare.

Happy Cruising New Year!

By Paul Motter