Surprising cruise ship passenger change as young Aussies set sail

Waves of Millenials and Gen Z are boarding cruises like never before.

The number of young Aussies aboard cruise ships is on the rise, with those in the industry saying the cost-of-living crisis has played a big part in its surprising surge in popularity.

While we might associate cruises with boomers and retirees, Gen Z and millennials are increasingly attracted to setting sail when it comes to their holidays.

"To me it's like a moving hotel. You have everything that you want to do, there's all the fun activities going on, like nightclubs and bars that are close by," young cruise passenger Caitlin Dennis told the ABC.

She said such holidays were "easy" and "convenient", allowing you to visit several places along the way.

A nightclub scene on a cruise (left) and two female passengers enjoy a drink by the pool (right)
More and more young Aussies are taking to cruises. Source: TikTok - @el.ijah/ @janinaabee

Carnival Australia said there has been a steady increase in young Australians going on cruises in the past few years, with Cruise Lines International Association managing director Joel Katz telling the public broadcaster the average cruise age of 49 is "much younger than it used to be".

"They're having a holiday, they understand what it's going to cost them, they have a budget they can stick to, which is especially important when the cost of living is under so much pressure," he said.

While it was feared the cruise industry would never fully recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2023/24 travel period has had roughly 50 per cent more passengers than the year prior to the pandemic.

And operators are now moving to attract younger passengers offering onboard services such as state-of-the-art gyms, tattoo parlours and late-night pizza stands.

Passengers on a cruise look out over their balconies.
Cruises have stereotypically been popular with older generations. Source: Getty

TikTok content helping advertise cruises to young Australians

Royal Caribbean's nine-month Ultimate World Cruise is currently en route to Hong Kong from Australia amid its epic journey across over 60 countries.

Young passenger Anastasia previously told Yahoo that she was surprised by the sense of community created among passengers.

"What's really surprised me is how much a community has formed on board," she said. "Nobody on the boat really has anywhere to be on sea days... it's quite an adventure meeting people."

She is one of many people who document their cruise experiences on social media on platforms such as TikTok. Industry bosses believe this sort of exposure is helping drive the message to young Australians cruises aren't just for an older crowd.

Last year a retired Australian couple revealed they were "living" on a cruise ship after taking 51 back-to-back cruises on the Coral Princess. Loving life, they said the arrangement was cheaper than moving into an aged care home.

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