Cozumel, Mexico, where visitors find miles of white sand beaches and reefs teeming with colorful tropical fish, has scored a win as one of the world's most popular cruise ports.
The sunny island, along with Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and Cologne, Germany, were the top three destinations in a survey by CruiseCompete, an online travel company.
The statistics, which are compiled monthly, are based on the number of requests made for various destinations. Cozumel is the overall leader; Cologne is the top port among river cruisers; Halifax scores highest for luxury cruising.
Isla Cozumel, 42 miles south of Cancún, is known for its fishing, diving and snorkeling, but it also offers variety. You can stroll along a deserted beach, dive the 621-mile-long Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, savor the culture or visit Maya sites.
Most large cruise lines visit Cozumel, including Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Holland America Line, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceana Cruises, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean International and Viking Ocean Cruises.
Most sailings are from Florida, although some ships depart from ports such as Galveston, Texas, and Mobile, Ala.
Disney Wonder will sail from San Diego on Oct. 27 on a two-week voyage that includes Cozumel in the itinerary.
Other popular stops listed in the poll are Nassau, Bahamas; Kotor, Montenegro; and Vienna, Austria (river cruisers).
CruiseCompete's data are drawn from the consumers who use the website to find cruise deals. Those requests contain data about favorite ports, destinations, ships and cruise lines.
"We mine data to determine what is most popular across a variety of cruise categories," said Bob Levinstein, chief executive.
The data change frequently because it's based on demand, he said.
"For instance, Princess Cruises may do a series of ads that causes demand for their line," he said.
"New ships with interesting new features can make a difference. Even things like currency fluctuations — for example, if currency fluctuations make paying for European travel in dollars via a cruise instead of euros via a land tour — can change consumer behavior."