The Aussie cruise industry gathered aboard Carnival Spirit yesterday to hear the impressive stats to come out of cruising in 2012, as presented by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Australasia.
We knew the numbers would be impressive and they didn’t disappoint, with an 11 percent increase in passenger numbers over 2011 and over seven million days spent at sea.
694,062 Aussies chose to cruise in 2012, making Australia’s growth rate on par with Germany as the highest of all developed cruise source markets.
For the second year running, the island nation surpassed other major cruise markets with a record 3 percent of Australians cruising – only 0.3 percent below the industry leader, North America.
We knocked the Mother Country off their perch with 2.7 percent of people in the United Kingdom cruising in 2012, followed by Germany at 1.9 percent.
“In only four years, the number of Australians taking a cruise holiday has more than doubled from 330,290 in 2008 to almost 700,000, while over the past decade we’ve seen an average annual growth rate of 20 percent – a remarkable result for any industry,” CLIA Australasia chairman Gavin Smith said.
“Clearly Australians are responding to the growing number of cruise holidays on offer from Australian ports, as well as our strong dollar, which is encouraging more people to cruise overseas.”
The South Pacific maintained its stronghold as the preferred destination to cruise at 36.4 percent, followed by Australia at 20.2 percent and New Zealand at 13.3 percent.
Europe has beaten the Americas as the biggest fly-cruise market for Australians for the first time, with 57,719 passengers cruising there in 2012, 8.3 percent of the destination share.
Asia experienced a decrease with only 34,732 Australian cruisers selecting the neighbouring region as a chosen cruise destination, 13 percent less than in 2011.
The popularity of river cruising was evident with 12 percent more passengers ditching ocean liners for the most intimate river cruising experience and the old adage of cruising being for the “nearly dead” was dismissed with over half of Australian cruisers aged under 50.
Cruisers are still booking their voyages well in advance with 45 percent booking 6-12 months out and 28 percent booking 3-6 months out, indicating a more stable booking environment.
Mr Smith highlighted that whilst the figures may be impressive, the focus on appropriate port infrastructure and supporting government policies would be crucial to continued growth.