Cruise ships are even worse than you think. ProPublica recently published a very alarming and downright dark interactive feature about health and safety on cruises. I’ll come right out and say it: Stop going on cruises. Don’t cruise. Don’t do it.

As ProPublica’s Lena Groeger reports, “Almost every year, a child drowns in a cruise ship pool, most of which have no lifeguards.” Then there’s the 21-year-old college student who fell overboard at night and was never found. There’s always the chance of a deadly norovirus outbreak. One doctor, an infectious disease specialist, last year called for cruise ships to be banned outright, since the risk of contracting some vicious bug on these sealed germ factories in the middle of the ocean is so high. This is all assuming your ship doesn’t turn into a floating shit barge due to some mechanical error.

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Cruises get a lot of news for fancy robots or luxurious amenities, but their potential darker sides are less known. Enclosed, inescapable cruise ships provide an ideal environment for contagious diseases. But these floating cities are also ideal for criminals and rapists, as they float through international waters and essentially write their own laws. This paragraph from Groeger’s feature is frightening:

While notoriously underreported, sexual assaults still top the list of crimes aboard cruise ships. In 2014 alone, three of the major cruise companies – Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian – reported 61 alleged rapes and other sexual assaults (these numbers reflect only allegations, not closed cases). This past April, a 25-year-old crew member pled guilty to sexually assaulting a woman while she was sleeping in her stateroom aboard the Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, Quantum of the Seas.

I was on that ship six months ago. My experience on Quantum of the Seas, Royal Caribbean’s ship of the future, was complicated for many reasons, but it’s awful to realize that this later took place on the ship.

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So maybe save up for a nice tropical vacation and live life as a landlubber. Go to an all inclusive resort, if that’s your thing. It’ll be just like a cruise, except you won’t be floating around in a potential disease- and pollution-factory that may harbor criminals. Crime might happen. I can attest to that first hand. However, odds are in your favor, if you decide not to cruise.

Illustration by Tara Jacoby

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