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The Western Caribbean, defined as ports west of Haiti and in Mexico, Central America and Columbia, is the most popular destination for North American cruises.

More than a quarter, 27.1 percent, of all cruise ships departing from North American posts arrived in that region in 2011, according to Passenger Travel Facts and Figures, a report outlining personal travel trends released by the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics on Friday.

The Bahamas was the second most visited cruise ship destination in 2011, accounting for 20.8 percent of cruise ship traffic.

Although accounting for considerably fewer cruise ship visits, traditionally cold-weather destinations including Alaska, Canada, and the Pacific Coast also attract North American cruise ship visits.

The number of Norther American cruise stops by destination, between 2008 and 2008, is outlined below:

Western Caribbean1,0961,0751,156
Southern Caribbean404379388
Eastern Caribbean502442525
Mexico (Pacific)540418326
Canada/New England112102113
Tran-Panama Canal7899111
Pacific Coast313322
South Pacific/Far East202321
South America122823

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, Maritime Administration, North American Cruise Statistical Snapshot 2011.

Photo Credit: A shot from an unidentified cruise ship headed into a Caribbean port. George Goldie / Flickr