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Australian Cruise Industry Growth Slows While New Zealand Breaks Records
Pacific Princess cruise ship at Sydney Opera House

Australian Cruise Industry Growth Slows While New Zealand Breaks Records

Australian Cruise Industry Growth Slows While New Zealand Breaks Records
Pacific Princess cruise ship at Sydney Opera House

October 10, 2019

Louise Goldsbury
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A total of 1.35 million Australians went on an ocean cruise in 2018 -- a slight increase of 0.9 per cent on the previous year’s record.

According to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), which today released the 2018 Australia Ocean Source Market report, the result still showed a higher number of Australians choosing a cruising holiday than ever before. Nearly one in every 17 Aussies, or 5.8 per cent of the population, took a cruise last year, giving Australia the highest market penetration rate of the world’s major established cruise markets -- ahead of the US (4 per cent), the UK (3 percent ) and Germany (2.8 per cent).

Cruising in local waters (Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific) grew by just 0.1 per cent, reflecting current infrastructure constraints in the gateway port of Sydney. But this was offset by growth of 3.4 per cent in the number of Australians taking fly-cruise holidays in destinations further afield.

“Cruising continues to be exceptionally popular among Australian travellers after many years of growth and world-leading market penetration,” said CLIA Australasia Managing Director Joel Katz. “A lack of berthing capacity in Sydney has hampered cruise lines’ efforts to expand their operations in local waters, but the increasing number of Australians flying to ports overseas shows the market is still strong and holds great potential for the future.”

CLIA’s report says a subdued growth trend will continue in the short term into 2019, but it predicts a return to stronger growth in the near future.

“Cruise lines have already announced significant new vessel deployments in this region from the 2020-21 season, with smaller, older ships to be replaced with newer, larger options,” Katz said. “Combined with the construction of a new International Cruise Terminal in Brisbane and other projects announced in Cairns, Eden and Broome, this is expected to reignite growth in the Australian market.”

Other findings from the report include:

  • More than half of ocean cruise passengers come from NSW (53 per cent), with Queenslanders catching up (22 per cent), followed by Victorians (13 per cent).
  • The average age of the Australian cruise passenger remained steady at 49 years old.
  • Growth in short domestic cruises lowered the average cruise length, which was down from 9.1 days in 2017 to 8.8 days in 2018.
  • In the inbound market, about 200,000 people came from other regions to cruise in Australasian waters in 2018, more than half from North America.
  • The majority of Australians cruised within Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific (76.6 per cent). Europe/Mediterranean was the most popular long-haul destination (8.1 per cent), followed by North America/Caribbean/Alaska/Hawaii (7.3 per cent) and Asia (5.4 per cent).
  • Worldwide, 28.5 million people took a cruise in 2018, a 6.7 per cent increase on the previous year. This figure is forecast to break the 30 million barrier in 2019.

Meanhwile, a record 112,000 New Zealanders cruised last year, marking a 14.6 per cent increase, according to the CLIA 2018 NZ Ocean Source Market report.

The result is a faster growth rate than the United States (9.4 per cent) and Europe (3.3 per cent), with growth largely driven by a 20 per cent rise in the number of Kiwis cruising the South Pacific, Australia and domestically.

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