New Zealanders are taking ocean cruises in record numbers, with a 10 per cent surge in passenger numbers, according to industry figures.

The rate of increase in the number of Kiwis taking cruises makes this country one of the top performing markets in the world

Excluding river cruises 66,152 Kiwis took holidays on ships.

Cruise Lines International Association Australasia this morning released the figures which show passenger growth over the past five years.


"With an ever-increasing array of ships cruising the region and enticing itineraries continuing to draw travellers around the globe, the New Zealand passenger market is expected to continue on its growth trajectory," the association says.

Last year's 10 per cent growth rate is slightly down on the average rate of 12.6 per cent over the last decade.

The 2015 growth is third on the world, behind China where growth is soaring at more than 50 per cent off a relatively low base and Australia where numbers will be released later this week.

It is expected that 100,000 Kiwis will take cruises by 2020.

The association's Australasia chairman Steve Odell said the figures for last year meant the equivalent of 1.4 per cent of the New Zealand population had taken a cruise last year with New Zealand now ranked sixth in the world for market penetration ahead of many established cruise nations including Italy (1.3 per cent), Spain (1 per cent) and France (0.9 per cent).

Cruises in local waters, including New Zealand and the neighbouring regions of Australia and the South Pacific, continued to account for the majority (54 per cent) of cruise passengers, with last year's strong growth led by an increase in New Zealanders cruising in Australia (up 71 per cent) as well as Asia (up 64 per cent).

Commercial director Brett Jardine said New Zealanders were attracted by value rather than cut rate prices.

The cost of cruising in real terms had remained stable for the past decade, he said. The figures show that New Zealand cruise passengers spent almost 680,000 days at sea in 2015.

The most popular cruise duration was eight to 14 days. About a fifth of New Zealnd cruisers are aged under 40 and about a third were aged over 65.

Jardine said port congestion in Sydney was a critical issue in this region. New Zealand ports had been working hard to accomodate more ships, some of which are now longer than three football fields.

Around the world about 23 million passengers cruise every year.