Australia is once again reaping major economic benefits from its vibrant cruise industry, and breaking pre-pandemic records, a new report from two cruise associations shows.
The 2022-23 financial year resulted in the destination’s highest-ever overall economic impact, with ports in New South Wales accounting for the biggest share.
Economic Gains Exceed Pre-Pandemic By 22%
The numbers have been tallied and the statistics revealed by the Australian Cruise Association (ACA) and the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), and it is all good news for Australia and its cruise-tourism industry.
The destination in 2022-23 saw its cruise industry generate a record-breaking $5.63 billion AUD ($3.62 billion US), representing a 22% increase over the pre-pandemic financial year of 2018-19. The industry this year accounts for more than 18,000 full-time jobs across the country, bringing total cruise-related wages to $1.82 billion AUD ($1.15 billion US).
Like other global cruise destinations, Australia closed its ports to international cruising when the pandemic hit, and officially reopened in April 2022 after the government lifted its two-year ban on cruise arrivals and departures.
“Cruising returned to Australia much later than other parts of the world, but the ships have been resoundingly welcomed by cruise fans who have been heading back to sea in huge numbers,” said Joel Katz, CLIA Managing Director in Australasia.
“The 2022-23 year has brought higher levels of passenger spending, higher levels of cruise line spending, and record levels of economic output around Australia. The result is a resurgent cruise industry worth $5.63 billion (AUD) to the Australian economy,” Katz added.
The CLIA and ACA report shows that Australia welcomed 1,354 cruise ship visits to 62 ports, providing income to many related businesses such as tour operators, shops, hotels, and restaurants.
“The supply chain that supports cruising is extensive, from the travel agents who manage the passengers’ arrangements through to the farmers who provide Australian produce served on board,” said Jill Abel, Chief Executive Officer of Australia Cruise Association.
Cruise guest spending across Australia reached $1.49 billion AUD ($94 billion US), an increase of 10%, while crew spending totaled $52 million AUD ($32 million US), up by 48%.
Statistics also show that onshore spending per guest, per day, averaged $446 AUD ($282 US), an increase of 15%. Most onshore spending is attributed to hotels and other land accommodations, which together totaled $457 million AUD ($290 million US), or roughly 30% of guest spending.
The large share of hotel sector revenues is likely attributed to foreign cruise guests adding pre- and/or post-cruise stays to their vacations at sea, given Australia’s remote location.
Port of Sydney Leads Country’s Cruise Market
Among Australia’s territories, it is New South Wales that garnered the lion’s share of the cruise market’s financial benefits, due mainly to the Port of Sydney, where several major cruise lines home port their ships and where many others routinely make port calls.
Considered one of the world’s most beautiful natural harbors, with its recreational opportunities and its iconic skyline, Sydney Harbor provides two cruise terminals, the Overseas Passenger Terminal and White Bay Cruise Terminal.
Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean are among the major cruise players in the Sydney market. Princess Cruises currently has three ships home porting in Sydney — Royal Princess, and Majestic Princess, both accommodating 3,560 guests, and the 2,590-guest Grand Princess, while a fourth ship, the 1,974-guest Coral Princess, operates between Sydney and Brisbane.
Royal Caribbean currently homeports the 4,180-guest Ovation of the Seas and the 2,543-guest Brilliance of the Seas in Sydney, while Quantum of the Seas, with capacity for 4,900 guests, sails roundtrip from Brisbane.
It was Ovation of the Seas that was the first Royal Caribbean ship to return to the destination in 2022. The first ship to return to the Australia market across the industry was P&O Australia’s Pacific Explorer, which began sailing from Sydney on May 31, 2022. The ship carries 1,998 guests.
After New South Wales, Queensland has the second-highest economic benefit of $1.69 billion AUD ($1.06 billion US), followed by Victoria, $379 million AUD ($240 million US), and Western Australia, $333 million AUD ($210 million US).