* First-time skiers and snowboarders can hit the slopes for $20 on Dec. 4 or 5 with the "North Lake Tahoe's Learn to Ski or Board Weekend" promotion. Deal is good at eight resorts, including Squaw Valley, Sugar Bowl and Northstar-at-Tahoe. A beginner's package at Northstar, for example, typically costs about $73. Contact individual resorts for details. Resort info: 800-824-6348,

* Bring new or gently used sheets or clothing for donation to the Coalition for the Homeless to the Westin New York at Times Square hotel and get a room rate of $179 Thursday to Sunday, Jan. 1-March 31. Room rates usually start at $249. Taxes of 13.6 percent and $2 nightly service fee extra. Book by Oct. 31.; ask for the BOOK rate. Info: 888-627-7149,

* In the even-the-rich-like-a-deal category, the exclusive Hotel de Vendome in Paris is offering a base rate of 350 euros (about $431) on all of its rooms, including suites Nov. 1-Dec. 31. Junior suites with a king bed, for example, usually go for about $850 a night. Info: 800-525-480,


* Take the kids for free on a "Riverbonding Adventure Cruise" aboard Delta Queen's American Queen or Mississippi Queen. The deal is exceptionally good for single parents. For example, a parent with two children under 18 pays $2,120 for a triple outside cabin on a four-night cruise from New Orleans in June; usual fare would be $4,240. Promotion applies to cruises in summer and over certain school holiday weeks. Book by Oct. 31. Info: 800-543-1949,

* Round-trip airfare from Washington to China is $299 when you book a cruise with Viking River Cruises. A 12-night "Imperial Treasures of China" cruise/tour that starts in Beijing and ends in Shanghai starts at $2,748 per person double, including airfare; air alone is usually about $1,062. Taxes are about $150 more. Air promo also applies to the 16-night "Footsteps of Marco Polo" cruise/tour, with fares starting at $3,318, including air. Offer expires tomorrow; ask for promo 78Echo. Info: 877-66-VIKING,

* Got baseball fever? Meet Hall of Famers Bob Feller and Earl Weaver, as well other baseball greats, including Vida Blue, Graig Nettles and Bert Campaneris, on a cruise aboard the MSC Opera departing Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Dec. 11. Cruise411 is offering inside cabins starting at $495 per person double for the seven-night trip. Taxes are $30 extra. Brochure rate is $1,400. Info: 800-553-7090,


* With no hurricanes on the horizon, travel first class to islands throughout the Caribbean at discounted prices with a deal from US Airways. A round-trip first-class ticket from BWI to Cancun, for example, is $679, plus about $90 in taxes. Fare on other carriers starts at about $1,172. Complete travel by Nov. 15. Info: 800-622-1015,

* Northwest is offering inaugural fares on its new service to Guangzhou, China. The round-trip fare from New York is $618, plus $99 in taxes. The fare on other airlines starts at $1,035. Service starts Oct. 30, which is also the deadline to purchase. Complete travel by Dec. 9; seven-day advance purchase required. Info: 800-447-4747,


* Globus is offering $400 off per couple on vacations to Italy between Jan. 1 and June 15. The deal is good on seven Monograms independent-stay packages; four Leisure- Style Vacations escorted tours; and seven longer Regional Discovery tours.. For example, a three-night Monograms package in Rome, typically $1,139 per person double, is now $939. Book by Nov. 30. Info: 866-313-2855,

* Air France is celebrating 40 years of service to D.C. with a fourth-night free package to Paris. Buy a three-night air/land package and the fourth night is free. For example, a four-nighter with air, lodging at a Sofitel property and breakfasts is $813 per person double. Separately, the package would cost about $219 per couple more. Book by Oct. 15; travel Nov. 1-March 31. Info: 800-2-FRANCE.

-- Carol Sottili

Prices were verified and available on Thursday afternoon when the Travel section went to press. However, deals sell out quickly and are not guaranteed to be available. Restrictions such as day of travel, blackout dates and advance-purchase requirements sometimes apply.