The Aussie cruise boom continues with P&O today announcing it will base another two ships in Australia next year, bringing its local fleet total to five. It comes on the back of capacity increases from other cruise lines, including the introduction of the massive Explorer of the Seas by Royal Caribbean, as operators look to capitalise on Australia’s surging cruise market, which is growing passenger numbers by 20% a year.

“With the P&O expansion, Carnival Group will have 12 ships home-ported in Australia with fleets from P&O Cruises, Carnival Cruise Lines and Princess Cruises,” Carnival Australia CEO Ann Sherry said.

“It will also accelerate progress in reaching the industry goal of a million passengers a year by 2016 – four years earlier than forecast.”

The new ships will be transferred across from the Carnival-owned Holland America Line.

They are medium sized, similar to the three existing P&O ships in Australia — the Pacific Dawn, Pacific Jewel and Pacific Pearl, and will be completely refurbished before starting operations in November 2015.

More than 800,000 Australians cruised last year. Over a five year period between 2007 and 2012, Australian cruise passenger numbers increased 130%.

While optimism abounds, there is concern in some quarters that the Australian market may be heading for over capacity.

Leading travel Phil Hoffman told TD Cruise Update that Cruiseco has decided not to charter the 694 passenger Azamara Quest in 2016 because of perceived supply and demand issues.

“There will be so much capacity with Golden Princess and Explorer of the Seas all operating here so it no longer makes business sense,” Mr Hoffman said.

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