While 2014 marked the milestone of a million Aussie cruisers, 2015 took this one step further. In their most recent Cruise Industry Source Market Report, CLIA Australasia has removed from their data the river cruise numbers to focus solely on traditional ocean cruising - and this number rose above that magic million in 2015.
The report outlines the continuation of a strong upward trend in our cruising habits, placing Australian cruisers at the forefront of market penetration and a close second in annual growth of cruising numbers. The growing domestic cruising sector is making shipboard holidays accessible and easy for a whole new slice of travelers.
More than a million: The total passenger numbers rose to 1,058,781 in 2015 - those figures for ocean cruising only, as a separate report will be put out for river cruises.
Fast-growing cruise market: The overall growth from 2014 to 2015 was 14.6%, a rate which is second only to the emerging market of China. It is also well-ahead of established markets like the UK and the US.
Australia is THE cruise-loving nation: The market penetration, meaning the percentage of the population who cruised in 2015, was 4.5%. This is number one in the world by far, followed by the USA at 3.5%.
Domestic cruising is on the up: Australian destinations made up 25.5% of destinations in 2015, coming in at the second most popular region. This is an impressive number, especially as it represents a 42.2% surge in domestic itineraries.
Most popular destinations: The South Pacific is still the favourite destination, commanding 36.3% of the Australian cruise market. After domestic cruises, New Zealand and Europe tied for third spot with 9.5% apiece.
Queensland hot at the heels of NSW: While New South Wales remains the number one source of Australian cruise passengers with 39.9% of the market, Queensland has had the strongest growth, increasing 29.6% on 2014 to take 26.7% of the market - Cruises from Brisbane are getting more and more popular. Victoria is the next-largest provider of passengers.
Age distribution holds steady: Passenger ages have stayed more or less the same as the last three years: under 40s at 29%, 40-70 at 54% and over 70s at 17%.
- Cruise lengths diversify: While cruises lasting between 8 and 14 days remain the most popular amongst Aussie cruisers, there have been huge increases in both shorter and longer itineraries as more options become available. 15-21 day cruises jumped 50% to almost 85,000 and short breaks of 0-4 days leapt 25% to total 155,000.
Overall, these statistics and those of previous years show a cruise uprising in Australia - it is fast taking root in the national psyche as a great way to holiday. That's nothing new to most cruisers, and we have seen the results: new ships being stationed Down Under to meet the demand, including the Royal Caribbean mega vessel Ovation of the Seas who arrives to sail her first Sydney season in December.
The rise in domestic cruising and short breaks demonstrates that Australians are enjoying convenient cruise options. These often don't require a passport, and the short itineraries can fit into long weekends, making them easy options and also great introductory cruises for those trying it out for the first time.
Australia is becoming a major cruising nation, and is putting up huge growth numbers each year. We already love to cruise and are looking forward to helping more and more Aussies get onboard in 2016! If you're ready to sail away, find a cruise and join the revolution.