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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:

Destination 2008 2009 2010
Total 4,228 4,119 4,208
Western Caribbean 1,096 1,075 1,156
Bahamas 600 710 791
Southern Caribbean 404 379 388
Alaska 513 512 443
Eastern Caribbean 502 442 525
Mexico (Pacific) 540 418 326
Bermuda 102 109 115
Canada/New England 112 102 113
Hawaii 122 90 87
Transatlantic 96 89 87
Tran-Panama Canal 78 99 111
Pacific Coast 31 33 22
South Pacific/Far East 20 23 21
South America 12 28 23

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