Many of us fantasize about journeying to exotic, far-off locations, and for some people cruises are the perfect way to realize that dream. Indeed, with more than 12 million North Americans setting sail on cruise liners every year, the industry is one of the biggest tourist sectors in the world. However, behind their promise of paradise, cruise ships often cover up some less than idyllic secrets. From work violations to deaths and disappearances, these are the strange facts travel companies would rather keep to themselves.

20. Companies exploit labor and tax laws through legal loopholes

While U.S. cruise lines generate around $38 billion annually, little of this profit actually goes back into the U.S. economy. Thanks to flag-of-convenience tactics, which involve companies cynically registering their ships in foreign countries, businesses can avoid paying tax altogether. In addition, they make U.S. companies exempt from American labor laws, allowing them to pay their workers pitiful salaries.

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