By Jill Innamorati-Varley
This week’s announcement by International Cruise Council of a record year of growth in 2008 and an increase in the number of ships visiting Australia once again highlighted the lack of port facilities in Australia.
Cruise Council Chairman Karen Christensen said lobbying the government for the future of port facilities was an ongoing thing. “We are applying a lot of pressure to get the message across but unfortunately there is no quick solution,” she said.
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Cruise statistics revealed at a press conference onboard P&O’s Pacific Dawn showed the 2008 domestic and international cruise market saw its strongest growth in five years, with Australian, New Zealand and South Pacific cruises attracting the largest number of passengers.
News of the growth comes in the midst of Australia’s biggest ever cruise season in which a record 28 ships in 28 days called into Sydney in the month of February.
In Australia the number of people taking a cruise holiday surged by 26 per cent in 2008 to a record 330,949 passengers — more than five times the five per cent growth recorded by the US market in 2008 and double the estimated 12 per cent growth for the UK.
It’s a record that Christensen said was the result of increased capacity in the market, greater itinerary options and growing awareness of cruising as great value holiday.
She said the demographic was getting younger and there had been a substantial growth in families travelling because of the value it offers.
While not shying away from the fact that cruise prices had been slashed significantly, Christensen added: “I believe the amazing prices being offered will be a catalyst for continual growth over the 2008 figures. In these tougher times cruise holidays have more appeal than ever because they include transport, accommodation, meals and entertainment in one fare.”
European river and ocean cruising had also seen a dramatic rise ex-Austrlaia, almost doubling its numbers from 11,761 in 2007 to 27,645 in 2008.