Australian Cruise Industry Statistics That Promise to Be Plain Sailing

Australian Cruise Industry Statistics That Promise to Be Plain Sailing

Exactly how many Aussies usually cruise each year, for how long, and where do they go?  The Australian cruise industry is one of the country’s largest and fastest-developing, with the number of ships, passengers and days spent onboard constantly increasing (in pre-pandemic times, of course).

We’ve selected the most compelling cruise industry statistics to give you all the info you could want about one of the world’s largest markets.

Ready? Let’s set sail!

Facts About Cruises That Are Easy to Get on Board With

  • The cruise market in Australia added A$5.2 billion to the economy in 2018-19.
  • In 2018-2019, a total of 1,240 cruise ships docked in Australia’s 47 ports.
  • In 2018, the average length of an Aussie cruise trip was 8.8 days.
  • Late December-late January is the busiest cruising time in Australia.
  • The average Australian cruise passenger is between the ages of 40 and 72.
  • Australia was picked as a destination by 200,000 foreign cruise travellers in 2017.
  • The biggest cruise ship in Australia is Ovation of the Seas.
  • The state capitals are some of the most popular cruise destinations Down Under.
  • The Australian cruising industry is expected to generate a revenue of A$269 million in 2021.
  •  Australia’s cruising industry lost over A$5 billion in the year to March 2021.

General Cruise Industry Statistics in Australia

1. The cruise market in Australia added A$5.2 billion to the economy in 2018-19.

(Maritime Executive)

Normally, the Australian cruising industry is big business. Namely, it contributed over $3.6 billion US to the Oz economy in direct and indirect output in 2018-2019. This was a marked 11.2% increase over the previous year.

2. In 2018-2019, a total of 1,240 cruise ships docked in Australia’s 47 ports.

(Maritime Executive)

According to cruise industry statistics from the financial year 2018-19, these trips resulted in 3.8 million passenger and crew visit days in the country.

3. How many Australians go on a cruise trip every year?

( (Cruise Agency)

The answer is that one in 17 Australians has taken a cruise. The latest available statistics suggest that an astounding 5.8% of the population does. Specifically, the overall number of Aussies that went on an ocean cruise in 2018 was 1.35 million. This represented an increase of 0.9% year on year.

4. In 2018, the average length of an Aussie cruise trip was 8.8 days.

(Cruise Agency)

According to cruise industry statistics, this was a 3.2% decrease from the previous year’s average of 9.1 days. Cruises lasting 8-13 days were the most popular, taken by 39% of the cruising population, while short ones of fewer than seven days saw a 10% increase. On the other end of the spectrum, cruises longer than 21 days accounted for 3% of the total in 2018.

(Cruise Critic)

P&O Australia Cruises is also one of the most renowned local cruise lines, operating from all of the country’s major ports. In addition, there are other prominent ones like Carnival, Cunard, Holland America Line and Seabourn, which also have vessels Down Under in the summer. The Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cruise lines have been basing ships in Oz since 2013 as well.

6. Small ship trips with domestic cruise lines are also very trendy among Australians.

(Cruise Critic)

Small ship cruises in Australia are popular as well. Domestic cruise brands like Coral Expeditions, Captain Cook, and North Star sail to the Great Barrier Reef, the Kimberley, Cape York, and the Top End. Among the exotic destinations visited by such vessels are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and the Melanesian islands.

7. What is the best month to cruise Australia? 

(Carnival) (Cruise Critic)

In contrast to the Northern Hemisphere, the high season in Oz begins in late November and ends in March. So, before you book your holiday, you might ask, what is the busiest cruising time in Australia?

It is the summer months in Australia, and there’s a reason for it—it offers the ideal summer weather, with temperatures between 20°C and 37°C, which is why the locals tend to vacation then.

It should be pointed out, though, that the winter months in “the land down under” are also pleasant; the weather isn’t harsh or cold, which is great for exploring cities and landmarks.

Australian Cruise Demographics Statistics

8. The average Australian cruise passenger is between the ages of 40 and 72.

(Cruise Agency)

However, cruise ship statistics indicate that there’s a significant portion of young passengers on vessels as well. Children aged 12 and under account for 8%, while those aged 13-19 make up 6% of travellers. Moreover, 7% of passengers are in their twenties, whereas 8% are in their thirties.

9. With a 53.5% share, NSW travellers were the most frequent Australian cruisers in 2017.


With 21.3%, Queensland residents accounted for the second-largest percentage of cruise passengers in 2017. Further, Victorians made up 12.8% of cruise takers.

How many passengers on a cruise ship are contributed by other Australian states and territories? Far fewer. Western Australians, for example, cruised at a substantially lower rate of 5.7%, while Southern Australians accounted for only 4.5% of the cruise population.

10. Australia was picked as a destination by 200,000 foreign cruise travelers in 2017.


According to cruise ship tourism statistics, Australia received visitors from 145 different countries that year. The majority of them (87,000) came from the United States. Accounting for 21,000 visits, Brits also flocked to the Oz coast. Further, 19,000 trips were made by Europeans, 14,000 by Canadians, while Asians comprised 7,000 of the inbound cruise ship population.

Cruise Ships Statistics

12. P&O Cruises Australia will have three cruise ships in operation in 2021 with a capacity of 5,000 passengers.

(Cruise Market Watch)

How many cruise ships are there in the world? In all, 323 are to set sail in 2021. 

A significant number of these ships, 98 in total, are owned by parent company Carnival Cruise Lines. In addition, Royal Caribbean Cruises owns 50 vessels, while Norwegian Cruise Lines has 28. Other cruising brands account for the remaining 147 such ships on the planet.

13. The average cruise ship capacity is 3,000 passengers.

(Cruise Critics) (Cruise Mapper)

  • The largest cruise ships are known as mega-ships and can accommodate over 3,500 passengers.
  • The second category is large ships, which carry between 2,500 and 3,499 passengers.
  • Mid-sized ones, with cruise ship occupancy ranging from 1,500 to 2,499, are ranked third.
  • The fourth type is small-mid ships, which can carry 800 to 1,499 passengers.
  • Lastly, small cruise ships with a passenger capacity of 799 or less are at the bottom of the list.

14. The biggest cruise ship in Australia is Ovation of the Seas.

(Travel Online) (Traveller)

This gargantuan vessel boasts 18 decks and 16 guest lifts and weighs a whopping 167,800 tonnes. At the time of its maiden voyage in 2016, it was the fourth biggest cruise ship in the world and the largest one stationed in Australia.

So, how many passengers can fit on a cruise ship like Ovation of the Seas? It has a capacity of 4,905 passengers and 1,500 crew and is classified as a mega-liner. It sails to Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, Europe, and North America.

15. Symphony of the Seas is the world’s largest cruise ship in terms of gross tonnage.


Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines offers the largest cruise ships anywhere. Symphony of the Seas is the planet’s leading vessel, with a gross tonnage of 228,080. Harmony of the Seas, with a gross tonnage of 227,500, is the second biggest. With a gross tonnage of 225,280, both Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas are close behind, tied for third place.

16. P&O Cruises and Carnival Cruise Lines have the most highly regarded ships in Australia.

(Travel Online)

Some of the most famous brands in the cruise ship industry, like P&O and Carnival, sail around spectacular locations all over the world. Celebrity Solstice, Carnival Spirit, Sea Princess, Pacific Explorer, Pacific Dawn, Pacific Aria, and the aforementioned Ovation of the Seas are among Australia’s most popular cruise liners. Let’s check some of them out!

17. Celebrity Solstice departs from Sydney, Fremantle and Auckland.

(Travel Online)

Celebrity Solstice was the largest ship ever built in Germany back when it debuted in 2008, with a gross tonnage of 121,878. According to Australia – New Zealand tourism stats, in addition to these two countries, the ship also cruises to other dream destinations like Indonesia, Hawaii and Tahiti. It has 19 decks and a passenger capacity of 2,850.

18. How fast can a cruise ship travel? 

(Travel Online)

Boasting an impressive length of 293.5m and a gross tonnage of 85,900, Carnival Spirit is a superliner based Down Under year-round. It has a dozen decks, a two-level promenade and can fit up to 2,124 passengers for fun trips around Australia, the Pacific Islands and Asia.

Being so massive, how fast can a cruise ship such as this travel? Even at full capacity, the Spirit can reach 22 knots. That’s not bad at all, considering that it even has a waterpark on board that features the steepest at-sea waterslide, the Green Thunder.

19. Sea Princess explores nearly every remarkable location on the planet.

(Travel Online)

This 261m-long cruise liner sets off from Brisbane and Sydney and can accommodate up to 1,950 passengers. It has 14 decks, a gross tonnage of 77,499, and sails to destinations as diverse and far-flung as Greece, UAE, New York, Hawaii, Easter Island… Honestly, how many cruise ships in the world can boast of the same?

20. Pacific Explorer and Pacific Aria are part of P&O’s fleet.

(Travel Online)

The swanky Pacific Explorer sets sail from Melbourne and Adelaide and is the biggest ship in P&O’s fleet. It has a maximum cruise ship occupancy of 1,997 guests, whom it even offers the chance to zipline across the top deck on trips with correspondingly fun-sounding names like Kiwi Adventure.

Pacific Aria, also owned by P&O Cruises, has a passenger capacity of 1,500 and the most dining options of any ship operated by this company. Excursions from Sydney and Brisbane carry holidaymakers to Cairns, Hamilton Island, Fiji, Vanuatu, Tonga, and Samoa.

21. Pacific Dawn features P&O’s first connected rooms, which are perfect for families.

(Travel Online)

Given P&O’s substantial cruise line market share, it’s no surprise that Pacific Dawn, in addition to the company’s other two cruise ships, is also a popular choice among Aussies. This vessel goes on voyages from Brisbane to Tropical North Queensland, Sydney, Melbourne, Fiji, Vanuatu, and Papua New Guinea. It has 11 decks and a passenger capacity of 2,050.

Cruise Destinations and Ports in Australia

(Cruise Critic) (Carnival)

Further, the Great Barrier Reef is a prime attraction for cruisers travelling around the continent. Other locations people flock to include Kimberley and the Northwest. Places like Airlie Beach and Kangaroo Island have traditionally also captured the hearts of holidaymakers. The islands of Hobart and Willis are also among the top ten must-see destinations on an Australian cruise.

23. An increasing number of Australians are choosing fly-cruises.


Australian tourism statistics show that the majority of cruise travellers, or 77%, sailed in regional waters in 2017, with 35% choosing South Pacific cruises, 34% sailing across Oz, and 8% cruising to New Zealand. In concrete figures, 471,000 Aussies sailed in the South Pacific, another 451,000 cruised locally, while 101,000 around NZ.

In addition, more international cruise ship tourism statistics illustrate that long-distance destinations like the Mediterranean attracted 61,000 visitors from Down Under, while 97,000 sailed in Asian waters. Notably, 37,000 Australians chose Alaska as their main cruise destination, while 23,000 went on round-the-world trips. 

24. The ports of Australia’s major cities are home to some of the country’s largest ships.

(Seaoo) (Cruise Critic)

  • Brisbane’s seaport is the third busiest in the country, handling over 2,600 ships annually. 
  • The seaport in Sydney, Australia’s second-biggest, is called Port Botany. 
  • Melbourne’s seaport, which is around 180 years old, handles around 3,000 vessels a year. 
  • The seaport of Fremantle in Perth, Western Australia’s busiest, is vital for trade and thus the economy.
  • Adelaide, South Australia’s main port, serves as a hub for ships travelling east and west.

Additionally, the Australian coastline of over 60 thousand kilometres makes the shipping service industry highly popular and successful.

Cruise Industry Revenue Statistics

25. The Australian cruising industry is expected to generate a revenue of A$269 million in 2021.


The revenue growth rate in 2021 is expected to be a staggering 150.3%. The cruise ship industry growth rate between 2021 and 2025, however, is predicted to be 54.92% annually.

Online cruise sales are set to account for 31% of the total revenue in this industrial category by ‘25, moving towards a market volume forecast of A$1.549 billion and 1,392,900 users, with an average revenue per user of A$981.31.

26. The Australian cruising industry created 17,369 direct and indirect jobs in 2017-18.

(Cruise Agency)

In all, 17,369 full-time equivalent jobs were created in Australia by the cruise ship industry in 2017-2018, while the resulting direct and indirect wages and salaries totalled $1.4 billion.

27. In 2018/19, the total cruise ship expenditure in Australia was A$2.5 billion.

(Maritime Executive)

In 2018-2019, the combined direct cruise ship expenditure in Australia by passengers, crew members, and cruise lines was A$2.5 billion. The average daily onshore spending per passenger was $387, reaching a total of around A$1.4 billion, a 17.4% increase year on year.

28. International visitors spend more money than domestic ones while onshore in Oz.

(Maritime Executive)

As per Australian tourism stats, foreign cruise visitors spent an average of A$569 per person while onshore in 2018-19. Domestic ones, on the other hand, forked over an average of A$436 per person. Per day, international tourists shelled out an average of A$211 while onshore in transit ports, while local cruisers—A$174.

29. Crew members parted with an average of $173 per day while in port in 2018/19.

(Maritime Executive)

Cruise liner staff seem to have as much fun onshore as Aussie holidaymakers do, at least judging by their spending. In 2018-2019, the total direct expenditure by cruise ship crew members while on land in Australia was A$35 million.

30. In 2018-2019, cruise line expenditure amounted to nearly A$1.1 billion.

(Maritime Executive)

This represented a 4.6% increase in such spending over the previous financial year. Cruise lines accounted for nearly half of the total cruise ship expenditure in Australia in 2018-2019 by buying the necessary items to keep a ship running, like fuel, food, and drinks, in addition to paying port charges and fees and spending money on administration. 

Cruise Safety Statistics in Australia

31. What are the most common issues on a cruise ship when offshore?

(Cruise Critic)

According to cruise statistics, the most typical issues encountered on board involve luggage, accommodations, and food. Other concerns include health, safety, and crime risks. A serious issue that might arise while cruising is a rapid change in weather and sailing through rough and stormy seas. In rare cases, states of emergency do happen.

32. Between 1990 and 2011, there were around 79 cruise ship fires worldwide.

(Maritime Injury Guide)

Based on cruise ship statistics, some of the safety problems that may arise on voyages include:

  • As a result of loss of power, the ship becoming adrift at sea
  • Spread of viruses or other illnesses
  • Fires, accidents, sinking, or other disasters that might necessitate evacuation
  • Unsanitary conditions, including plumbing issues
  • Crime
  • The ship running aground

33. Cruise ships have medical staff onboard that is constantly on call.

(Cruise Critic)

A cruise line industry overview tells us that on a ship from a major cruise line, there’s a minimum of one doctor and two nurses. Larger vessels have two physicians and three to four nurses on board. All medical personnel are available 24/7 in case of an emergency.

Onboard medical services and pharmacies are also accessible. However, because cruise ship physicians are unable to treat severe illnesses and disorders, patients who have life-threatening emergencies are transferred to a hospital on land.

34. 48% of Australian cruisers in 2017 may have gone on their trips unknowingly underinsured.

(Smart Traveller)

According to cruise travel insurance statistics from 2017, 38% of Aussies who went on a cruise were exposed to risks because they’d purchased travel insurance that may not have covered such voyages. Out of these travellers, close to one in five knew that the general travel insurance they got didn’t include cruises. 

Covid-19’s Effects on the Australian Cruise Industry 

35. Australia’s cruising industry lost over A$5 billion in the year to March 2021.

(Mirage News) (Cruise Passenger)

Given the onset of the pandemic, how many cruise ships visited Australia in 2020? Unfortunately, not many. The latest info on the impact of the corona virus on the cruise ship industry in 2021 suggests that Australia’s sailing ban and border closures have cost the economy more than A$5 billion. Namely, cruisers have been docked indefinitely.

According to the latest data from the Cruise Lines International Association in Australia and the Australian Cruise Association, when cruise ships stopped sailing between March and July 2020, the industry lost $500 million. Thousands of small local companies that rely on the cruising sector have also been impacted.

36. When will cruises resume in Australia?

(Department of Health)

The truth is, nobody knows. The regulations and prohibitions that came into effect on March 17, 2020, have been extended until at least September 17, 2021. The cruise industry ban was previously expected to end in June, but the government has kept the measures preventing foreign-flagged vessels from docking in Australia’s ports in place.

37. The pandemic has influenced the future sailing plans of both regular and irregular cruisers.

(The Conversation)

According to surveys conducted in the UK and Australia in early 2021, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, 45% of respondents don’t trust cruise lines that much when it comes to safety and health anymore. A further 47% don’t feel comfortable going on a cruise and don’t believe cruise lines will look after them if something bad happens.

Another 67% of those surveyed said they wouldn’t go on a cruise ship due to the coronavirus outbreak, while 69% didn’t feel as positive about cruising at the moment.

38. When cruising resumes, it’ll adhere to far stricter protocols than the rest of the tourism industry.

(Flight Centre) (ABC)

Representatives of the Cruise Lines International Association in Australia have agreed on health procedures to be implemented when cruise travel restarts. Mask wearing, social distancing, ventilation, touchless technology on cruises, and more disinfection are among the essential measures.

Before You Sail off Into the Sunset

These cruise industry statistics have shown us that Australia is one of the most important cruise destinations and its nationals are among the most frequent cruisers. However, being the beautiful place that it is, Australia-NZ cruise travel is on many foreigners’ bucket lists as well.

So even though the pandemic has pumped the brakes on this type of holiday, there’s no doubt in our minds that the cruise industry trend will be positive once again.


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