Australian cruise fans embrace revival
May 3, 2023 – Cruising’s revival in Australia has been resoundingly welcomed by cruise fans, with 457,200 Australians setting sail during the latter part of 2022, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) data shows.
Despite a limited number of ships in the region and only a half year of local operations, CLIA’s Source Market figure for 2022 shows the Australian cruise market is making a swift recovery from its pandemic suspension.
“Cruising initially returned to Australia in a very limited form and relatively recently, but the response from cruise fans has been terrific,” said CLIA Managing Director Australasia Joel Katz.
“Cruise travel among Australians accelerated significantly in the lead-up to the summer season, and we estimate that by the last quarter of the year passenger numbers had reached approximately 90% of the levels seen in the same quarter of 2019,” he said. “All the indicators suggest Australia’s cruise recovery is progressing faster than other parts of the world where operations resumed much earlier.”
The reopening of Australia’s international borders in February 2022 allowed an initial opportunity for travellers to visit other countries to cruise, but it wasn’t until the end of May 2022 that passengers began sailing from Australia’s east coast, in addition to the Kimberley region. This was followed by the first cruises in New Zealand in August 2022, and by other South Pacific destinations soon after.
Australian cruisers showed a clear preference for local sailings in 2022, with 90% choosing to cruise in our region, up from about 75-80% in past years.
CLIA Chairman for Australasia Ben Angell said cruising’s revival had continued to gather pace into 2023.
“Cruising resumed in Australia with just a handful of ships, but by the end of summer this year we had welcomed more than 40 international vessels to local waters,” Mr Angell said. “By next summer we expect to welcome around 60 international cruise ships to local waters, which is similar to 2019 levels.”
“Worldwide, CLIA forecasting shows that cruise passenger volumes will return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of this year and that cruiser sentiment is going from strength to strength,” Mr Angell said. “In a recent CLIA survey, 81% of Australian cruisers said they will cruise again, which is back at similar levels to 2019. Travel agents are reporting strong demand for cruises well into the future and the Australian cruise industry is on track to catch up to the rest of the world quite swiftly,” Mr Angell said.
Australia’s last full year of cruise operations was in 2019 when 1.24 million Australians took an ocean cruise. The industry’s total annual economic value to the Australian economy was $5.2 billion in 2018-19, supporting more than 18,000 Australian jobs.
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