In 1980 1.4 million people around the world took a cruise. In 2016, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) predicts that almost 24 million people will take to the water. More than 30 new ocean and river ships are set to launch in 2016, adding to an existing fleet of more than 500 around the world. It’s an unprecedented growth that few would have predicted.

And it stands to reason that these huge figures and continuing growth can’t just be driven by increasing demand from the traditional cruise market, namely retirees. In recent years there has been a shift in the demographics of cruisers, particularly in Australia.

Recent figures from InsureandGo (the first company to launch a tailored cruise insurance product in Australia) show that cruisers are becoming evenly split between the ages of 18 and 80. Just one in five passengers who took out a policy with InsureandGo was aged over 70 and a corresponding 20 per cent were millennials, aged 18-34. The remaining policies were split relatively evenly across the decades.

Jonathan Etkind, Commercial Manager of InsureandGo said, “cruising is definitely on the rise and not just amongst middle-aged Australians but also for people in their twenties and thirties. The cruise industry is evolving quickly and offering more unique experiences, which has made them more attractive holiday to people of all ages.”

The figures come as no surprise to those familiar with the industry. Cruise lines have been working hard to revamp their image (less shuffleboard, more skydiving) to attract a younger, more adventurous clientele. The rise of short cruises out of Australia also appeal to a younger market who are unable to dedicate two solid weeks to a cruise. These short cruises also tend to have a distinct party atmosphere onboard that appeals to the young (or the young at heart – you can read Lucy’s review of a short cruise here.

Increased onboard connectivity also makes cruising appeal to younger generations who are used to being constantly plugged in to their technology. CLIA’s most recent report found that cruise line’s have made passenger’s desire to stay connected while travelling a priority, with innovations in Wi-Fi, onboard text messaging and data usage.