Okay, I'm not 100% sure.... but when I go to "File", "Save As..." and export it to JPEG, it has a box checked at the bottom that says "Embed Color Profile: U.S. Web Coated (SWOP)...".
When I unchecked that box, my saved photo came out nice & rich, and when I left it checked it came out washed. Will have to wait to see the actual print, But I will keep updated! I've been fighting with this for days and right when I default to real help...I find it! (I Hope, LOL)
Always embed the profile! The profile is what defines the colors. An untagged file has undefined numbers.
If the file doesn't have a profile, it will display according to you working CMYK on your system, and like anything under the sun elsewhere.
You must check with the printer in every instance what profile they want. There is no such thing as a generic "CMYK". There's always a profile, and this profile corresponds to the actual press/paper/ink used. Most commercial offset presses are calibrated to certain standards, but these standards vary both around the world and locally.
If you get a general "wash-out" when converting to CMYK, something's wrong. The colors should always remain generally unchanged in a conversion - that's the whole point. The change you do see is due to gamut clipping. Color spaces have different shapes and sizes, and some saturated colors cannot be reproduced in some color spaces. In that case the color will be clipped to the nearest reproducible color.
Unless you have a wide gamut monitor it's unlikely that you will actually see very much of this clipping, because the native monitor color space is already so small that saturated colors will already be clipped to that.