Australians continue to take to cruising like proverbial ducks to water, with over one million of us flocking onto ocean-going ships in the last full calendar year, an official industry report released today showed.

With 1,058,781 Australian passport holders venturing onto cruise ships somewhere around the world for a holiday in 2015, the result translates to 4.5% of the country’s entire population – the highest market penetration of any nation anywhere in the world. The result also means the total number of Australians on ocean ships broke through the one million mark for the first time, soaring by over 100,000 from the 923,726 mark set in 2014, while the annual average in over a decade sits at 19.2% – highlighting the rapid rise and why more cruise lines are sending newer and more advanced ships here than ever before.

The annual CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association – the global governing body representing the cruise industry) Source Market Report 2015 also showed Australia’s ocean cruise patronage rate grew 14.6% from the year prior – surpassed only by China, growing even faster than the mass markets driven by hugely superior resident populations in the United Kingdom, Germany, France and the United States of America.

Identifying what it was which led to such a jump, the report indicated domestic cruising in Australia was proving enormously popular, swelling by 42% in 2015 to 269,915, reaching a point where one in four Australians taking a cruise last year did so within local waters. The result was up 80,000 on the year beforehand, showing we are well in love with cruises along the Queensland coast, to Tasmania and points around the country, particularly short sailings.

Diamond Princess sailed into Hobart.
Larger ships than ever before, including the 2,670-guest Diamond Princess, took Aussies on domestic cruises in 2015.

Local CLIA chairman Steve Odell said short cruises had clearly captured the imagination of Australian travellers, who were responding to the increasing variety of voyages available to help them explore ports in their own country.

“What’s more, many of these cruises are calling at regional ports around the coastline, creating a lot of chatter and enticing more Australians to try a holiday at sea, while also injecting valuable dollars into local economies,” Odell said.

New itineraries and familiar ships led more Australians than ever before to cruise the Asian region in 2015, the report detailed, with nearly 40,000 more Aussies cruising there than the year before – a 71.6% growth spurt – and making up 9% of the total. The result took Asia right to the doorstep of Europe, only slightly ahead at 9.5%, as one of Australia’s favourite international cruising regions. Unsurprisingly, the South Pacific and New Zealand remained our two most popular international settings in which Australians took a cruise, together accounting for more than 45% of where in the world we love to sail.

In an interesting shift on the year prior, the western side of America proved more popular than the east, with cruise holidays in Alaska and Mexico recording a combined 35% upward swing and a total of 37,444 Aussie holidaymakers compared to the Caribbean, which declined 10.7% and saw 28,099 visitors from ‘Down Under’.

Two MSC Cruises ships meet in Croatia.
International lines such as MSC Cruises proved popular for Aussie travellers venturing to Europe.

More analysis into what Australians love most about cruising coming soon.