Australia – The World’s Biggest Nation of Cruisers


Fresh of the back of the Socceroos disappointment in their opening 2014 World Cup match, the nation of Australia now has a reason to be cheerful again as we were this week named the biggest nation of cruisers in the world!

Soloman Islands

The 2013 Cruise Industry Source Market Report showed that 3.6% of the Australian population took an ocean or river cruise during 2013, which is the highest number worldwide.

We narrowly fought off competition from the North American population, whose figure was 3.3%, and this result takes Australia to the number one spot for cruises per capita, beating North America for the very first time.

It was previously predicted that by 2020 the mark of 1 million annual Australian cruise passengers would be reached, but in reality this figure is due to be hit 4 years earlier.

In 2013, a whopping 833,348 Aussie passengers boarded a cruise (of which 50,000 of those were river cruises on inland waterways) and the big 7 figures is only a couple of years off.

The percentage of Australians deciding to ditch the traditional beach package holiday to instead take a cruise has been rising by 20% year on year for the last 11 years according to Cruise Lines International Association Australasia (CLIA) Chairman Gavin Smith, who himself launched the 2013 Cruise Industry Source Market report.

Mr Smith said Australia is “still a relatively young cruise market” but recognises at the same time it has still grown at a hugely impressive rate, which he believes is down to “a growing number of travellers discovering the many joys of cruising.”

Smith believes for Australia to have achieved this growth is “a remarkable achievement, particularly when you consider we’re now leading the world in market penetration”.

“With more ships being deployed in Australia in 2014 and 2015, we’ve set course for continued growth over the next few years, so the benchmark of one million annual cruise passengers should be reached by 2016, if not before.”

This dramatic, sudden and frankly astounding growth in passion for cruising from the Australian population is inevitably attracting a much higher calibre of cruise ship Down Under.

Throughout 2014 and 2015, Australia’s ports will house a record number of ships and will welcome some of the largest and most famous vessels in the world.

Celebrity Solstice in Sydney

Companies such as Princess, Royal Caribbean International, P&O, Carnival and Celebrity Cruise will all bring magnificent luxury ships to the shores of Australia, and as the quality of ships improves surely so will the already impressive passenger figures?

We believe Australia is just at the very beginning of a long and exciting relationship with cruise holidays, and this isn’t a particularly global trend either. We Australians really are going mad for cruising right now!

When compared to the growth rates of other key markets, Australia stands alone. Our figure of 20% growth was more than double that of the Germans and the French (9% respectively), and massively higher than the US figure of 3% and the UK & Ireland’s 1%.

This is a phenomenal growth by anyone’s standards, and CLIA General Manager Brett Jardine said the surprising results could be down to many cruise passengers simply wanting to return for more. “Once people have tried it once, they’ll come back again.”

For those who’ve not yet experienced cruising and who may be concerned about struggling to find the right cruise for them, Jardine recommends speaking to a professional about all the possible options before you commit to anything. He advised to “talk to a cruise specialist travel agent [before booking]. There’s so much choice, it’s important to find the right one, and cruise specialists know what’s out there.”

Interestingly, Mr Jardine revealed that of all passengers cruising within the Pacific region, 70% of those were Australian, and that the Aussie’s absolute favourite destination for long-haul cruising was the beautiful Mediterranean.


Jardine also confirmed that cruises to those cities in the North of Europe, which include the epic Norwegian fjord tours, saw a growth of over 50%. And for those lucky enough to have experienced this part of the world by cruise liner, that figure won’t surprise you.

The 2013 Cruise Line International Association Australasia Cruise Industry Source Market Report also found the following key information regarding Australian cruising habits during 2013:

  • The number of Australians who took river cruises jumped up by 25% meaning just under 50,000 enjoyed the inland waterways as their cruise destination. This in turn was the major factor for the launch of 30 luxurious new river boats this year.
  • Australians choosing to go on Asian cruises also increased as passenger numbers shot up by 28%. A record 44,382 passengers chose this part of the world for their cruise in 2013.
  • Almost 100,000 Australians chose our near neighbours New Zealand for their cruise destination.
  • Passenger numbers of those who took 8-14 day cruises saw a huge boost in 2013, rising by almost 35%.
  • An estimated 8.7 million days were spent by Australians out at sea during 2013. That’s a staggering increase of 22% from the following year.
  • The average ocean cruise was 10.25 days whilst river cruises averaged 14.4 days.

Looking for a cruise deal in Australia? Call us on 1300 857 345 or click here to check out our latest offers.

Image sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credit:Simon Ager, Michael McGimpsey

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