The number of New Zealanders taking a cruise holiday has soared to a record high of more than 56,000,according to a new report released today.

Launched in Aucklandby the International Cruise Council Australasia (ICCA), the 2011 New Zealand Cruise Industry Report found that New Zealand cruise passenger numbers grew by 32 per cent to 56,479 last year, representing one of the strongest passenger growth rates in the world.

Since the ICCA first compiled New Zealand cruise passenger numbers five years ago, the number of New Zealanders taking a cruise holiday has more than doubled from 26,510 in 2006. This equates to an average annual growth rate of more than 18 per cent.

ICCA General Manager Brett Jardine said the latest figures underlined the strength of the New Zealand cruise market.

“While other industries have waivered in these tough economic times, cruising has continued to expand, with its popularity in New Zealand growing significantly,” Mr Jardine said.  

Mr Jardine attributed the impressive growth to the broadening range of cruise ships available locally and overseas, as well as increasing awareness of the great value that cruise holidays offer, with all-inclusive fares covering accommodation, transport, entertainment and meals.

“Every year we are seeing more cruise ships sailing New Zealand waters, taking the profile of cruising to new heights and prompting an unprecedented number of Kiwis to take to the seas for their holidays,” he added.

Key findings of the 2011 Cruise Industry Report include:
•    New Zealand cruise passenger numbers grew by 32 per cent from 2010 to 2011, reaching 56,479
•    The South Pacific retained its position as the most popular cruise destination, attracting nearly half of New Zealand passengers (26,650) in 2011
•    The number of New Zealanders cruising local waters rose nearly 220 per cent to reach 4628, reflecting an increase in short break cruises from Auckland
•    River cruising passenger numbers grew by 12 per cent to 2651, accounting for 5 per cent of total New Zealandcruise passenger numbers
•    73 per cent of New Zealand cruise passengers live on the North Island with the remaining  27 per cent living on the South Island
•    The growth in passenger numbers saw a 24 per cent rise in estimated sea days (ie the total days New Zealand holidaymakers spent at sea in 2011) to more than half a million (573,000)
•    New Zealand’s growth rate of 32 per cent was the second biggest in the world in 2011  (with Australia experiencing 34 per cent)
•    1.3 per cent of the New Zealand population took a cruise in 2011.

Mr Jardine said the New Zealand cruise industry was on target to reach 100,000 passengers by 2020.

The New Zealand Cruise Industry Report looks at key trends drawn from data supplied by ICCA member cruise lines carrying New Zealand passengers around the world.