An Australian couple reported missing after a cruise ship ran aground off the Italian coast were able to board one of the last lifeboats to leave the ship, their parents say.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) said on Sunday it had confirmed the safety of the 23 Australians who were aboard the Costa Concordia when it hit a reef near Isola del Giglio late on Friday night (local time).

Consular officials had been unable to contact the remaining two Australians but they both made contact with their families after they were taken off the listing ship.

Three of the 4,200 passengers have been confirmed dead, 30 were injured and dozens remained unaccounted for.


The ABC reported the couple, Grant and Tessa Strickland from Newcastle, were celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary aboard the ship.

Tessa's mother, Robyn Watts, said her daughter and son-in-law were in good spirits and preparing to return home.

"They seem to be doing quite well," she told ABC Radio.

"They were lucky in that they were in their cabin when it happened - unlike a lot of passengers who were dining - so at least they had access to their coats and were able to be warm.

"And they were in one of the last few lifeboats to actually get away from the ship." Ms Watts said the couple were expected to arrive in Sydney late on Monday.

"They were happy to be safe. It was a fairly confused atmosphere. I think they weren't really sure what was going on," she said.

"We were able to contact DFAT for them and the consulate met them when they got to the mainland, which was really helpful.

"They've been looked after quite well. They were given accommodation and clothes and they've sorted some airfares back for them." DFAT said consular officials were at the mainland reception point for all the evacuated Australian passengers, who were all given consular assistance.

They were trying to determine if any other Australians were on board.