Australian Cruising – Its Growth as an industry
The Australian cruising industry has grown immensely over the last two decades, with both huge increases in Australians going on cruises overseas, and with international crowds cruising to Australia.
At Shire Shuttle Bus, we have altered our operations in order to remain competitive as the demand for cruises has grown. Over time we have had to purchase new trailers and buses with greater space to accommodate the families who make up a large portion of those going on cruises.
The statistics do not lie, cruising in Australia is huge. Australia is currently the world’s fifth largest cruising nation in the world, with 1.34mn Australians going on cruises in 2017, an astronomical rise from just 250,000 in 2007, and a representation of 5% of the country’s total population.
The Australian cruise industry passed $5bn in total value in 2019, and of all the states, NSW is the one which received the most economic benefit from cruises, with $2.8bn coming in during the 2018 financial year. To no surprise, the city with the largest total servicing for cruises is Sydney, with a total of 285 visits from 45 ships during the 2018 financial year. The Australian cruise industry has also increased its total direct and indirect employment in the cruise industry, with 18,700 people employed in 2016, and increase from 15,200 the year before.
This immense growth prompted an increase in ships by the lines that serve Australia’s cities, for example, over a 12-year period Royal Caribbean increased its fleet from one to five in order to remain competitive. Cruise companies are also constantly updating their ships in order to keep up with a growing demand, along with launching new vessels with increased passenger capacities and a greater variety of onboard facilities. Of the forty-six ships that visited Sydney in 2015-16, ten of these were new models. During this period, Sydney also received visits from the newly constructed Ovation of the Seas, one of the largest and most prominent ships in existence today.
What places receive the most Australian visitors from cruises? It is interesting to note that local ports make up the most of locations visited by Australians on cruise ships. The most popular cruise destination by far is the South Pacific. Australian visitors have mostly been travelling to the south sea islands, and domestic localities have also seen strong recent popularity, including Moreton Bay, Fraser Island, the Whitsundays, and Australians also like travelling to the major cities by cruise ship.
Why do Australians love cruising so much? Perhaps it could be since we are an ‘oceanic’ society, with most of our population living within a couple of hours hours or less to the sea, so a desire to see more of it just comes naturally. Cruising is also less expensive than air travels overseas, and the attractions aboard cruise liners today are various, and cater to the whole family. Most cruise ships today feature activities on board such as live music entertainment, dancing, and kids club activities.
For cruising to maintain its popularity and standing as a powerful industry, local port authorities must continually ensure that their passenger terminals remain safe, accessible and structurally up to date. The Overseas Passenger Terminal at Sydney, for example, is often at peak capacity during cruise seasons, and as a result, a third passenger terminal could be constructed to deal with this influx of passengers. After ruling out the construction of a new terminal at Garden Island, the Port Authority of NSW is currently considering a new terminal for Botany Bay.