Kiwis love cruising as much as their Aussie neighbours – maybe even more – according to new figures.

The 2013 Cruise Industry Source Market Report revealed 59,316 New Zealanders cruised last year, 23 percent more than 2012.

This was a higher increase in passenger numbers than any of the main markets around the world – more than doubling Germany and France’s nine percent growth; toppling the United State’s three percent rise; and even exceeding Australia’s 20 percent increase.

New Zealand’s 1.3 percent population penetration also outranked a number of the big cruising nations, including Spain (one percent) and France (0.8 percent).

However, it fell short of North America with 3.3 percent penetration and Australia at 3.6 percent.

In total, New Zealanders spent 656,000 days at sea last year, with more than half spent sailing in the South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand.

Europe dominated long-haul destinations, with 19 percent of the market and river cruising leapt 19 percent to pass the 4,000 mark.
More than half of New Zealand passengers took cruises of eight-14 days with this category increasing 27 percent in response to the growing number of South Pacific and local cruises on offer.

Cruise Lines International Association Australasia general manager Brett Jardine dubbed New Zealand a young cruise market that is increasingly discovering the joys of cruising.

“We’ve now seen the number of New Zealand cruisers double over the past seven years with the market experiencing an enviable annual average increase of 14 per cent,” he said.

“With more ships being deployed in the region in the coming years, we expect to see continued growth out of New Zealand.”