After a number of years of increasing growth, the Australian cruise market has now overtaken the North American cruise industry in terms of market growth and penetration over the last year.
In 2013, the number of Australians setting sail increased by a record 20%, a larger increase in cruise passengers than any other market in the world. In addition to a 20% growth rate, a record number of 3.6% percent of Australians chose a cruise vacation last year, beating North America’s 3.3%. In total, 833,348 Australians chose to take a cruise during the past year.
CLIA Australasia Chairman, Gavin Smith, shared his excitement over Australia’s record-breaking numbers, “Australia is still a relatively young cruise market, yet the number of Australians taking a cruise has grown by an enviable average 20 per cent a year for the last 11 years as a growing number of travelers discover the many joys of cruising,” Mr Smith said. “That’s 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.”
The growth and emerging importance of the Australian market has not been ignored by the industry’s top cruise lines. Recently, Carnival Cruise Lines deployed their first ship to the region, the Carnival Spirit, which will soon be joined by sister ship Carnival Legend this coming September. Both ships will sail year round from Sydney, offering sailings to the South Pacific. Royal Caribbean also recently announced it will begin sailing from Brisbane, offering a variety of Australia and South Pacific sailings aboard Legend of the Seas beginning in 2015. The line is also opting to increase capacity in the region, replacing the smaller Rhapsody of the Seas in Sydney with the larger, newer Explorer of the Seas in 2015.
For the moment, the future of the Australian cruise industry is bright and looks to continue its record growth over the next few years.