The year 2024 will be a watershed moment for the cruise industry in Australia. Australia is preparing for what is shaping up to be its busiest and most diversified cruising season to date, with major cruise companies expanding their presence.
With cruise companies increasing their capacity for 2024 deployments, Cruise Companies International Association (CLIA) Managing Director in Australasia Joel Katz said that this year will be one of Australia’s busiest for cruise ships.
“We will see 81 cruise ships operating in Australian waters throughout 2024, which is 14% more than last year,” Mr Katz said. “Many of these ships will be staying longer and offering more local sailings, which means Australia will welcome more than 3,700 port calls around the country – an 18% increase over last year.”
Mr Katz said the result was a wealth of cruising options for cruise fans and an enormous economic potential for communities around the Australian coast.
“The total cruise passenger capacity in Australia this year will be up by 42% over 2023, which reflects the huge passion Australians have for cruising and the strong overseas interest in sailing down under,” Mr Katz said. “Cruising delivered a record economic impact worth $5.6 billion to the national economy last financial year, and all signs suggest cruise tourism will continue to be enormously valuable to Australia throughout 2024 and beyond.”
The Australian cruise industry has grown and shown incredible resiliency following the pandemic. The excitement of cruise enthusiasts and the planned reopening of ports in April 2022 were significant factors in the 2022–23 season’s record economic outputs and boosted passenger spending across the country.
Several industries, including tourism and agriculture, benefited from the 1,354 cruise ship visits to 62 ports that Australia had after the 2022–23 fiscal year, according to CLIA and the Australia Cruise Association (ACA).
Spending by cruise passengers in Australia reached $1.49 billion, up 10% from the previous year, with each passenger spending an average of $446 per day while ashore.
Most of the money from the cruise industry went to New South Wales, namely the Port of Sydney. Big cruise lines like Royal Caribbean and Princess Cruises have been a boon to the local economy. In 2023, Australia was home to the launch of thirteen new cruise ships.
Major cruise lines will ramp up their operations in Australia beginning in 2024 and continuing. In December 2023, Virgin Voyages’s Resilient Lady made her debut voyage from Melbourne and Sydney, marking the line’s entrance into the South Pacific market.
In late 2023, Disney Wonder made her Australian debut, departing from several ports in Australia and New Zealand to provide guests with one-of-a-kind Disney-themed cruises.
For the 2025–26 season, Carnival Splendour and Carnival Luminosa will cruise to new destinations, including Fiji, New Zealand, and the Great Barrier Reef, as part of Carnival Cruise Line’s expanded itinerary.
Despite this, Carnival has declared that it would no longer dock in Melbourne’s ports beginning in 2025, with the recent port price hikes by Ports Victoria being cited as the reason. The predicted impact on Melbourne’s tourism sector results from the heated discussion around the unexpected hike from $28.50 to $32 per passenger on 1 January. The economic impact of Princess Cruises and Cunard is expected to be enormous in 2024, thanks to their 40 port visits.
Even if this is a setback, many cruise companies still invest money in the Australian market. Royal Caribbean is further cementing its position in the Australian market by bringing the Quantum-class Ovation of the Seas to Sydney.
Whether you’re looking for a quick beach getaway or a multi-city South Pacific adventure, Royal Caribbean has you covered with its three ships in Australia, which are projected to carry over 250,000 guests.
Everything is building up to 2024 in Australia, and the cruise industry has repeatedly proven that it can adapt to new markets and thrive.