Around 1.28 million Australians took a cruise in 2016, a record 21% rise from 2015, according to a report from the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Australasia.
The 2016 Australian Ocean Passenger Cruise Industry Source Market Report found that Australia’s ocean cruise passenger numbers have increased by an average of 19.4% annually since 2007. In the past five years, these numbers have doubled and in 2016, an additional 222,378 Australians cruised in 2016, compared to 2015. This made the country the world’s fifth largest source market, accounting for 5.2% of global cruise passengers last year.
“In 2016, Australia achieved the equivalent of 5.3% market penetration, that’s one in 19 Australians taking a cruise, making this the highest per capita ratio in the world,” said Joel Katz, CLIA Australasia’s managing director. “The growing capacity and the wide variety of cruising options being offered are capturing the imagination of Australians, with more Australians discovering that cruising is an easy, relaxing and value for money way to holiday.”
Last year, Australians collectively spent 12 million days at sea. Although cruises lasting 8-14 days remained most popular (50.1% of the market), the popularity of voyages of up to four days grew 59.7%, while those lasting more than 22 days rose by 20%.
In terms of destinations, around 76.7% of passengers opted for local itineraries in the South Pacific (42%), Australia, and New Zealand (8.3%). Elsewhere, 25.5% more Australians took long-haul, fly-cruises to Alaska, but Europe and Asia saw 11.8% and 10.1% fewer Australian cruisers, respectively.
CLIA Australasia aims to achieve 11.8% annual Australian passenger growth to hit two million Australian cruise passengers by 2020. However, this growth is currently being hindered by a lack of berthing options in major capital cities.
“These results reconfirm cruising as Australia’s fastest growth tourism sector, worth close to AUS$5 billion annually to the economy, and supporting almost 20,000 jobs,” said Katz. “Cruise lines are already announcing that lack of capacity in Sydney is forcing them to redeploy their ships. The knock-on effect of this will impact thousands of travel agents, hotels, restaurants, transportation companies, and all the Australian suppliers, large and small, who provide the food and beverage and other supplies to the cruise industry.”