Many recovering addicts have said that a huge part of their recovery process has been learning to live life to the fullest. Cruising can be a wonderful vacation experience for recovering addicts as long as they are able to stick with their recovery program. Luckily, many cruise lines and tour companies provide a big help to their customers who are recovering from an alcohol addiction.
On my last 5 cruises I have noticed that just about every day the “Cruise Daily” has shown meetings for “Friends of Bill W. and/or Lois R. ” I wondered “Who are Bill W. and Lois R. and why do they have so many friends?” It turns out this is the code used to indicate that there are Alcoholics Anonymous meetings available to recovering addicts on the cruise. Depending on the stage of their recovery, a cruise ship might otherwise be a difficult environment for those who are trying to work their way through the process. While it is true that cruise lines make a large portion of their profits from alcohol sales, it is nice to know that they are supportive of their customers who need to make this important change in their lives. For some, they may be just a few months into sobriety, and others could be celebrating 20, 30 or even more years sober. For those who attend regular meetings, having them available on a cruise ship, allows them to keep up with their program as well as give and receive encouragement from others. The meetings are not run by the cruise, but the cruise line simply schedules and provides a place for the passengers to hold their own regular meetings. Nearly all cruise ships list these meetings in their daily schedule of events as “Friends of Bill W.” if it is just open to AA members or as “Friends of Bill W. and Lois R.” if it is a combined AA/Al-Anon meeting.
For cruisers looking to travel with a group of sober cruisers and also get a little more built in support, there are several tour companies that organized sober cruise groups. Sober Cruises focuses mostly on North American itineraries. Not A Glum Lot also offers similar cruise groups with an emphasis on workshops and featured speakers. Sober Celebrations also offers cruises that emphasize finding the fun in recovery. Another group offering the group cruise experience with an emphasis on seminars and workshops is Sober Sailors. With all of these groups, usually the ship is not on a full charter, so there will be other cruisers around who will be consuming alcohol. However, the group meetings are treated as private parties by the cruise line, and unlike the previously mentioned ship scheduled “Friends of Bill W./Lois R” meetings, they are only open to those who have booked through the sponsoring travel agency.
Sober Celebrations states that while members of their travel group are expected to maintain their sobriety, the following is what perspective cruisers should expect in terms of the sobriety of others:
“We have learned the meaning of the slogan, “Live and Let Live” and can live, work and play in harmony anywhere. Even if we reserved an entire ship for its total capacity of 3,000 guests, there would still be 1,000 or so crew members not in recovery. Thereâ€™s always somebody! In fact, in the spirit of sharing a life of abundance, we encourage those in recovery to bring “non program” loved ones on these enlightening trips.”
Cruising can be a wonderful pampering vacation experience, with much to see and do. Only those in recovery themselves can judge if they are ready for this kind of experience. However, for many sobriety means the chance to live life to the fullest, and a cruise can be a great way to explore the world and relax with their spouses, friends, or families.