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Australia bounces back to world’s fourth biggest cruise market in 2023

CLIA's Joel Katz said Australians have returned to cruising faster than many other markets
With 1.25m passengers, Australia was the world’s fourth largest cruise market in 2023, behind the United States (16.9m), Germany (2.5m) and the United Kingdom (2.2m).

This was detailed in Cruise Lines International Association Australasia’s 2023 Source Market Report.

The report highlights the recovery of the Australian cruise market, coming a little more than 18 months after regional operations resumed.

The 1.25m figure is up from 1.24m in 2019 and close to the all-time high of 1.35m in 2018.

High market penetration rate

Cruising’s market penetration rate in Australia was close to 5%. Almost one in every 20 Australians took an ocean cruise, one of the highest rates in the world.

Australians showed a preference for close-to-home itineraries — about 84.8% cruised within Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific during 2023, up from 72.5% in 2019.

One-third under 40

The average age of an Australian cruise passenger was 48.4 years in 2023, down from 50.4 in 2019, while almost one-third of passengers (32.5%) were under 40.

The average duration of an ocean cruise taken by Australians in 2023 was 8.1 days, down from nine days in 2019, reflecting the rise in short-break cruises offered by  lines.

After Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific, the most popular cruise destinations for Australians in 2023 were the Mediterranean (5.3%), Asia (2.5%), Alaska (1.9%), Northern Europe (1%), the Caribbean (1%), trans-Atlantic and world cruises (0.8%), Hawaii and the US West Coast (0.7%) and expedition cruises (0.7%).

NSW strongest source market

New South Wales remained the biggest source of Australian cruise passengers (720,849 or 57.7%), followed by Queensland (287,259 or 23%), Victoria (135,623 or 10.9%), Western Australia (47,508 or 3.8%), South Australia (47,415 or 3.8%), Tasmania (6,855 or 0.5%), the Australian Capital Territory (2,275 or 0.2%) and the Northern Territory (1,764 or 0.1%)

Overseas visitors reach 2019 level

CLIA’s figures also show a revival in the number of overseas visitors cruising in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific, which reached 217,000 during 2023, a similar level to 2019.

Enormous enthusiasm

‘Australians have not just returned to cruising, they’ve come back with enormous enthusiasm and at a faster pace than other markets worldwide,’ CLIA Australasia MD Joel Katz said.

‘Australia has long been one of the world’s most passionate cruise source markets and these figures confirm an enduring love for cruising among Australian travellers,’ Katz said.