A record number of New Zealanders are buying cruise packages as the global financial crisis results in more cruise liners being "redeployed" Down Under.
The 2013 Cruise Industry Source Market Report today showed New Zealand cruise passenger numbers reached a record high of 59,316 last year, a 23 per cent increase on 2012.
The results, which include only New Zealand passengers and not inbound tourists, were presented by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the world's largest cruise-industry trade association representing about 95 per cent of all cruise lines.
CLIA Australasia general manager Brett Jardine said the increase was due to a combination of factors.
Financially troubled American and European markets had resulted in cruise-liner companies "redeploying" more ships to the South Pacific, he said.
"We've kept filling the ships and they've kept sending them."
More services and packages on board and at destinations had also attracted more passengers, including first-time cruisers and families, he said.
Some cruise liners now featured rock-climbing walls, ice-skating rinks, zip-lines and a multitude of dining options.
Jardine said the price of cruising had changed little in the past 10 years, but their value for money had.
The number of New Zealanders going on cruises had more than doubled since 2006 with an average annual increase of 14 per cent, he said.
Cruising numbers to Australia spiked last year with passengers up 48 per cent on 2012 to nearly 8000.
The South Pacific was the most popular destination, attracting about 31 per cent of all passengers.
Collectively the South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand made up slightly more than half of all passengers.
Last year was the second-largest increase in the number of passengers cruising since CLIA reports were first compiled in 2006.
Most passengers choose to cruise for eight to 14 days and book more than six months in advance.
About a third of passengers were younger than 50 years old while about half were 51 to 70 years old.