The Australian reputation
In the global gaze, Americans are loud and inward-focused, Canadians polite and outdoorsy, Brits either reserved and dry or rowdy and drunk (they love tea either way), French arrogant and sophisticated... the list goes on.
Australians are often viewed as somewhat aspirational for many people - tanned, hair bleached by the sun, laidback, friendly and fun-loving. It's not all roses though, partly due to the huge numbers of adventurous young Aussies living it up on gap years all over the world, there is a bit of a party animal reputation. One blogger described it as "surf all day - drink all night" although it's usually a good-natured description as overall being an Aussie is a positive claim.
There is also the trope that Australian wildlife is out to get you, from spiders to snakes to dingoes and "drop bears." While we know it's not quite that dangerous, we are generally more comfortable with our surroundings than many visitors can understand! With that being said, we are of course happy to take the opportunity to escape on a cruise ship every so often. Those who have no real concept of an Australian might also rely on the "Crocodile Dundee" caricature.
Are the rumours true when it comes to Australian attributes? Of course, and of course not. The sun and sand readily available do lend themselves to more laidback individuals, and it's hard to argue that Australians generally like a bit of revelry. However any stereotype or generalisation can be taken with a grain of salt, and any one Australian citizen might in fact be a pale brunette who loves nothing more than ski holidays and going to bed at 8pm.
On the cruise scene
What struck me as the biggest perceived divide between Aussie cruise lovers and those in the Northern Hemisphere is the degree of formality. While many cruisers out of the US or various European countries enjoy dressing for dinner, observing some traditional niceties and having some more structure in their schedules, Australians generally prefer their holidays unstructured and relaxed. Getting dolled up for an evening out is fun, but sometimes they'd rather wear thongs and shorts.
One blog post on Cruise International describes the author's cruise on a Norwegian small-ship line, and the dynamics between groups of cruisers from different countries. She describes the Aussie crowd becoming "quickly tired of the formal dinners" and requesting BBQ meals on the deck in the evenings, all the while "bantering good-naturedly."
This characterisation rings quite true to us - again, in a general sense - and it's reflected in the ships that sail Australian waters. P&O's growing fleet are focused on relaxed elegance, with mostly casual dress codes, especially during the day. The style of cruising is more laidback than in the north, and it's reflective of the passengers.
Fun-loving is another stereotypical attribute of Australians mentioned above, and this is also an element recognised by cruise lines when catering to Aussie passengers. When the Carnival Spirit came to Australia, she received a Green thunder waterslide, billed as the steepest at sea, for a bit of an adrenaline rush, and a BBQ eatery on the top deck for al fresco dining - plenty of fun in the sun to appease local passengers.
Have you cruised outside of Australia and seen or felt a difference in atmosphere? Let us know in the comments!