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Italian Cruise Ship Tragedy Could Mean Deals for Travelers

Laura Lezza/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- With the non-stop media coverage of the Costa Concordia tragedy and the image of the capsized ship bombarding screens, monitors and mobile devices for several weeks, it probably comes as no surprise that people may think twice before booking a cruise.

Both Carnival Corp. and Royal Caribbean International reported booking declines in the low-to-mid-teens in the weeks immediately following the accident compared with a year earlier. Carnival is the parent company of Costa Cruises, Holland America, Princess Cruises and Seabourn Cruise Line. Royal Caribbean also has a fleet, including Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises, among others.

For better or worse, one person's tragedy can be another's opportunity. As travelers reconsider cruise vacations, deals have surfaced.

"When demand is soft, the cruise lines will either reduce prices or add additional incentives to entice customers to book," said Matt Lee, vice president of cruises for Travelocity. "Typically, they'll add incentives like free upgrades, onboard credit and reduced deposits before they'll decrease the price of the cruise."

Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor-in-chief of popular cruise review website, said that last-minute opportunities are robust right now, especially for the Caribbean in February and March -- peak times to cruise in the region.

"I haven't seen so many deals for seven-night cruises under $600 in a long time, especially for these months," she said.

Still, bargain hunters need to act fast. Though several cruise lines have launched new short-term sales to spur demand, said Lee, he expects bookings to bounce back and the window to close quickly.

"Now may truly be the best time to book all year. Take advantage of these deals before the demand catches up with supply," he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio