Spending by cruise lines grew 4.8% in 2011, faster than the U.S. economy in general, according to an annual survey of economic impact done for the Cruise Lines International Association.

Cruise lines, passengers and crew spent $18.9 billion last year, said the study.

North America continued to be the economic driver for the industry, providing close to two-thirds of all global passengers and 60% of all cruise embarkations, CLIA said.

Other conclusions in the study:

• The 26 member cruise lines of CLIA employ 347,787 people, up 5.4% from 2010.

• Worldwide, 16.3 million people cruised on CLIA member lines in 2011, an increase of 10.1%. Of that, U.S. passengers totaled 10.4 million, or 63.5%.

• The top ten U.S. cruise ports (Miami, Port Everglades, Port Canaveral, New York, Galveston, Tampa, Seattle, Long Beach, New Orleans, Los Angeles) accounted for nearly 86% of all U.S. embarkations.

• Capacity grew 18% in Europe while expanding only 5.4% in North America, where capacity grew fastest in Bermuda, Hawaii and Alaska.

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