(12:00 p.m. AEST) — A record 1,058,781 Australians took an ocean cruise in 2015, a rise of 14.6 per cent on the previous year, delivering the industry’s 13th consecutive year of double-digit growth.
If the headline sounds familiar, it’s because last year’s report of cracking the million also included river cruising; ocean cruise numbers in 2014 were officially 923,726.
This year’s figures from the Cruise Lines International Association Australasia, released today in Sydney, reveal the continued appeal of cruising’s value as a holiday.
Domestic cruising and Asian cruising saw the greatest leaps, with one in four Aussie cruisers sailing in Australian waters, rising by more than 80,000 to 269,915 (up 42 per cent). South Pacific remained the most popular destination, despite a 2 per cent decline, attracting 36 per cent of Australian cruisers.
Just over 100,000 cruised to New Zealand (up 13.5 per cent), while 95,016 took an ocean cruise in Asia in 2015 (up a whopping 71.5 per cent from 55,399 in 2014). The growth was largely thanks to the increasing number of big ships and new itineraries in these regions.
Europe, combining Northern Europe, the Mediterranean and British Isles, was the top long-haul destination and third overall.
Alaska also hit an all-time high, up 19 per cent.
On the downward slide were Caribbean and around-the-world voyages, which declined by 10.7 per cent and 12.7 per cent respectively.
Interestingly, Australia’s growth is second only to China, where cruising boomed by 40 per cent last year, while the world-leaders of North America have stalled, dipping 0.2 per cent.
According to CLIA Australasia, the figures also mean that the equivalent of 4.5 per cent of the population took a cruise, which is a greater proportion than any other country.
The majority (40 per cent) are from NSW, followed by Queenslanders, who are gaining ground at 26.7 per cent, and Victorians, at 16.5 per cent. WA and SA also saw good growth.
Among other findings, based on cruise line data, was the 25 per cent rise in short cruises of less than four days; almost 90 per cent of cruises undertaken were 14 days or less.
CLIA Australasia Chairman Steve Odell said the expanding range of shorter coastal cruises departing from Australian homeports has helped boost the numbers.
“What’s more, many of these cruises are calling at regional ports around the coastline, creating a lot of chatter and enticing more Australians to try a holiday at sea, while also injecting valuable dollars into local economies,” he said.
The expanding range of cruise options in Asia was also tempting Australians, Odell added, with many new itineraries available from China, Japan and Singapore in 2015.