Aussies 'obsessed' with cruising

Australians have become obsessed with cruising holidays, with figures released on Thursday showing that Aussies spent 8.7 million days at sea in 2013 and that we are the number one nation in the world for cruise growth.

Last year 833,348 Aussies boarded a ship for a holiday, a massive rise of 20 per cent.

That figure is the equivalent of 3.6 per cent of the population and even outstrips other big cruise nations, with North America having a penetration rate of 3.3 per, UK and Ireland 2.5 per cent, Germany 2.1 per cent and Italy 1.4 per cent.

"Cruising is different, it is exciting and it is good value," said Brett Jardine the general manager of the Cruise Lines International Association Australasia (CLIA) which released the figures.

"I think once people have had one cruise holiday they will come back and back. It is great value because when you pay your fare it includes accommodation, meals, entertainment and activities. People aren't constantly putting their hands in their pocket for extras."

Mr Jardine said the stereotypical view of a cruise passenger being elderly is incorrect. More than 50 per cent of passengers are under 50 and many families are taking it up," he said.

"There are so many styles of cruising, whether it's on the open ocean, river or expedition cruising. The best advice is to talk to a specialist cruise travel agent to match you with the right cruise."

The CLIA figures also revealed that the South Pacific continues to dominate as a cruise destination for Aussies with almost 80,000 more cruising the region in 2013, taking the total number to 330,000 (40 per cent of the market).

The figures also showed that river cruising leapt 25 per cent to 50,000 passengers and that almost 100,000 Australians cruised to New Zealand.

NSW is the leading source of passengers, accounting for 41.1 per cent of the market.

CLIA chairman Gavin Smith said Australia is "punching well above its weight" in the international cruise industry.

"That's a remarkable achievement, particularly when you consider we're now leading the world in market penetration.

"With more ships being deployed in Australia in 2014 and 2015, we've set course for continued growth over the next few years, so the benchmark of one million annual cruise passengers should be reached by 2016, if not before."