Cruise Lines International Association recently announced that nearly 1.3 million Australians took an ocean cruise in 2016, representing an increase of 21% on the previous year. And with passenger numbers also increasing by 36% in New Zealand in 2016, Australasia is undoubtedly one of the fastest growing markets in the global cruise industry.
“Australia and New Zealand are both powerhouses in terms of cruising growth,” says Sture Myrmell, president P&O Cruises Australia, who believes his line “has been at the forefront of this remarkable growth story.”
“Our cruising product has been transformed in terms of onboard features around accommodation, dining opportunities and entertainment,” he says. “The increased capacity through fleet expansion has offered far greater flexibility in terms of new itineraries, with many more destinations, a wide choice of cruise durations including short break and themed cruises, and exciting onboard features such as water parks and adventure attractions.”
As part of Carnival Corporation, P&O Australia acquires older but still impressive ships built for its sister brands. Pacific Eden and Pacific Aria – formerly Statendam and Ryndam and built for Holland America Line in 1993 and 1994 – joined the fleet in 2015. Pacific Explorer, previously Princess Cruises’ Dawn Princess, joined in June 2017. Carnival Splendor, currently sailing for Carnival Cruise Line, will join in 2019 and will become, at 3,000 guests, the largest ship in the fleet by some distance.
This fleet expansion has allowed the line to increase its focus on the New Zealand market, with the 2,000 passenger Pacific Jewel set to be based in the country from March 2018 to August 2018 and offering three 15-night cruises, including calls to French Polynesia.
According to Myrmell, increasingly the line’s capacity and bringing newer ships to the table has seen a big increase in the number of couples and families, many of whom are multi-generational, booking with P&O Cruises Australia.
“The ‘unpack once and you’re in holiday heaven’ mantra is also a great drawcard for travellers who want to be spoilt with a little affordable luxury, while being taken to fabulous destinations in Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and south-east Asia,” he says. “Many Aussies are enjoying seeing their own country by sea.”
Indeed, superb weather and magnificent coastal destinations make Australia a wonderful option.
“Australians are making the most of a wide mix of itineraries, from shorter themed cruises to longer round trips taking in exotic destinations, in what we refer to as our ‘cruising backyard’,” Myrmell explains. “The Pacific Islands of New Caledonia and Vanuatu – traditional cruise destinations for Aussies over many decades – attract the biggest section of Australian passengers, and 42% of the 1.28 million who travelled last year visited these places,” he says.
Myrmell adds that it’s no surprise that Australians and New Zealanders, who he describes as “fundamentally ‘sea-centric’”, have embraced cruise.
“They live by the sea, devote their leisure hours to the sea and, in the case of both nations, shipping has played a big part in their economic development,” he concludes. “Holidaying at sea on a beautiful cruise ship is a natural extension of being ‘sea-centric’ people.”