Australia’s love affair with cruising is set to explode in the next four years, with the Australasia cruise boom expected to soar to 1.72 million by 2028 according to the latest report by Cruise Lines International Association.

It will mean an extra 460,000 over four years – or the equivalent of 129 new sailings of Majestic Princess with every cabin taken.

But the big question is whether there are enough ships – or space to berth them – to achieve this number.

This sharp growth of cruise passengers is significantly higher than the 1.49 million who will sail in 2024 and 1.26 million last year. Already, there are calls for more capacity in Sydney.

Why the cruise boom?

CLIA’s State of the Cruise Industry Report released this week said that cruising is one of the safest and best ways to discover the world.

The report showed that globally, 82 per cent of those who cruised planned to cruise again while 71 per cent of international travellers are considering taking their first cruise.

Across the world, not only is cruise tourism resilient, it is rebounding faster than other forms of travel, the report found.

“Cruise travel reached 107 per cent of 2019 levels in 2023 – with 31.7 million passengers sailing. This compares to overall international tourism arrivals which are 12 per cent lower than 2019.

“By 2027, cruise is forecast to grow to nearly 40 million passengers,” the report said.

Cruisers are getting younger as the industry changes

Cruisers are getting younger

Generation X and millennials are the most enthusiastic about planning a cruise holiday. The report said that 65 per cent of the world’s cruise travellers are in the younger generation with 36 per cent under the age of 40. The average age of a cruiser is now 46 years of age.

There is an increasing number of new-to-cruise travellers with 27 per cent of cruisers over the past two years are new -to-cruise – an increase of 12 per cent.

Nearly 10 per cent of all cruisers are solo travellers and most sail from North America.

Multi-generation families pick cruise holidays

Multi-generation travellers choose cruise holidays as their top choice with at least one third of families sailing with at least two generations.

The report found that value for money and the ability to visit multiple destinations are the top reasons why cruisers love to cruise.

Expedition and exploration of the two poles particularly Antarctica are the fastest-growing cruise itineraries with the number of passengers going on expedition cruises has increased 71 per cent from 2019 to 2023.

Cruise injects billions to the economy

The economic contribution from cruise to the economy is enormous despite cruise being just 2 per cent of international industry.

Cruise generated $138 billion in the global economy and 1.2 million in jobs worldwide.  

CLIA member cruise lines launched 8 ships this year and the number of new ships in the order book will rise to 35 ships by 2028.

Insiders point out that the figures are part of a global report and are an indicative picture only, rather than being based on confirmed deployment. CLIA Australasia intends to produce more specific Australian data very soon.

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