Cruising on the rebound as industry on track to return to full capacity

Australians have embraced cruising again as the industry bounces back from a horror COVID crash.

Industry experts report that passenger numbers are almost back to pre-COVID numbers.

Travel insurance customer purchase data revealed by travel insurance provider InsureandGo shows a 96 per cent increase in cruise travel insurance purchases from its customers from June-December 2022 to January-July 2023. August 2023 saw a 336 per cent increase on August 2022. 

The federal government ended a two-year ban in April.

A total of about 457,200 people cruised in the 2022-23 season, despite a limited number of ships and a truncated season.

Cruise fans

“Cruising initially returned to Australia in a very limited form and relatively recently, but the response from cruise fans has been terrific,” said Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) managing director Australasia Joel Katz.

“Cruise travel among Australians accelerated significantly in the lead-up to the summer season, and we estimate that by the last quarter of the year passenger numbers had reached approximately 90 per cent of the levels seen in the same quarter of 2019,” he said.

“All the indicators suggest Australia’s cruise recovery is progressing faster than other parts of the world where operations resumed much earlier.”

InsureandGo spokesperson and chief commercial officer Jonathan Etkind says: “Considering the cruise ship ban was only lifted in Australia in April 2022, and the COVID-19 protocols for cruises were axed in August this year by the NSW government, it’s little surprise that the demand for cruise travel has increased.”

Younger demographic

Another factor that may be driving the sharp increase in cruise travel insurance is its rising popularity among new traveller demographics.

InsureandGo’s data also revealed that there was a 170 per cent increase in travellers aged 26-40 taking out cruise travel insurance when comparing purchases between June-December 2022 and January-July 2023, and a 119 per cent increase in single travellers of all ages taking out the same.

Australian cruisers showed a clear preference for local sailings in 2022, with 90 per cent choosing to cruise in the region, up from about 75-80 per cent in past years.

CLIA chairman for Australasia Ben Angell said this season should record a return to full capacity.

“Cruising resumed in Australia with just a handful of ships, but by the end of summer this year we had welcomed more than 40 international vessels to local waters,” Mr Angell said. 

“By next summer we expect to welcome around 60 international cruise ships to local waters, which is similar to 2019 levels.”

Ruby Princess

It comes as passengers won a Federal Court class action this week that found the Ruby Princess was negligent in its duty of care over a major COVID outbreak in 2020 that left 28 people dead.

In total, 663 positive cases were reported among the 2641 passengers.

Justice Angus Stewart found the cruise company knew or ought to have known about the heightened risk of COVID-19 infection on the vessel.

“To proceed with the cruise carried a significant risk of a coronavirus outbreak, with possible disastrous consequences, yet they proceeded regardless,” he said in his judgement.

“To cancel the cruise would not have been unduly burdensome (and) a reasonable person in (the company’s) position would have cancelled the cruise.

It was the first successful cruise ship class action in the world.

Have you been on a cruise since the industry ban was overturned? Did you find anything different? Why not share you experience in the comments section below?

Also read: Nine cruises you need to book in advance

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.
- Our Partners -


- Advertisment -
- Advertisment -