Cruising may be more popular than ever, but the Australian market didn’t see strong growth last year, according to annual passenger figures released by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) today.

Growth in the Aussie cruise market slowed to 0.9% year-on-year, a figure CLIA has put this down to “capacity constraints associated with a shortage of berthing infrastructure in Sydney”.

1.35 million Australians took an ocean cruise during 2018, only a slight increase on the previous year’s record.

Despite the lower growth, the results still showed a higher number of Australians choosing a cruising holiday than ever before.

Nearly one in every 17 Aussies, or 5.8% of the population, took a cruise last year.

This gives Australia the highest market penetration rate of the world’s major established cruise markets – ahead of the US (4.0%), the UK (3.0%) and Germany (2.8%).

Cruising in local waters (Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific), however, only grew by 0.1% over figures for 2017 – offset by the growth of 3.4% in the number of Australians taking fly-cruise.

“A lack of berthing capacity in Sydney has hampered cruise lines’ efforts to expand their operations in local waters, but the increasing number of Australians flying to ports overseas shows the market is still strong and holds great potential for the future.”

CLIA Australasia Managing Director Joel Katz.

CLIA’s report says a subdued growth trend will continue in the short term into 2019, but it predicts a return to stronger growth in the near future.

CLIA Australasia managing director Joel Katz

“Cruise lines have already announced significant new vessel deployments in this region from the 2020-21 season, with smaller, older ships to be replaced with newer, larger options,” Mr Katz said.

“Combined with the construction of a new International Cruise Terminal in Brisbane and other projects announced in Cairns, Eden and Broome, this is expected to reignite growth in the Australian market.”

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