A sober vacation is a happy holiday anyplace, anytime you are active in your recovery. It’s good to take along a box of tools to help you stay sober. There is a popular term, sober cruise, which is a misnomer as there is no such thing as a ship without alcohol. The term merely defines a fellowship vacation organized by a sober travel company which brings sobriety tools and a sober group onboard.
Because I have specialized in sober cruises for over 13 years, people call and email me often asking if there will be any alcohol onboard. Of course, that is the right question to ask if you are someone who is conscientious about staying sober. It’s important to find out if there will be obstacles in your path. I recently received an email admonishing me for saying there are bars on ships. It would be a disservice to pretend there are no alcoholic drinks or bars on cruise ships, as that is untrue. Many people enjoy sober cruises and bring their “normal” family along for the vacation: kids, in-laws, aunts, uncles and grandparents. It is comforting for them to know that we sober cruisers are close by if they need us.
I spent 11 days in Europe touring Spain, Italy and France with 35 recovering alcoholics. We were moved to tears as we said the 11th Step Prayer at the grave of St. Francis of Assisi in Assisi, Italy. We held hands as we repeated the Serenity Prayer at St Mark’s Basilica in Venice. To be with people who have been brought back from the dead and have the good fortune to travel in safety together is an experience beyond words. We see the beauty we missed when we were drinking. We are tourists wearing God glasses.
There are so many moments when a wonderful presence is evident. All we can do is nod to each other in silent recognition. When I saw the Sistine Chapel – that ceiling of all ceilings I’d only seen in pictures – all I could do was weep. How did such a lost kid like me become so found? How did I get to be so lucky? How awesome is the Higher Power that saved us all?
It seems like just a short time ago when I didn’t think I was going to live through yet another hangover from hell. Now I awaken at dawn, hungry for the next assignment. It keeps getting better and better.
On one particular Halloween Gratitude Cruise, 333 people showed up for a seven-day cruise. The costume theme was Noah’s Ark. The result was hilarious! Alcoholics know how to belly laugh. We have won the ship’s best costume contest three years in a row.
No matter where we go, we are always the group having the most fun. In January of this year we went to the Bahamas for our Sober Sisters Cruise. Because one of the gals brought a guitar, we were singing and laughing in our section of the beach. It was the best party on the beach that day!
I never once woke up and said, “Dear God, make me a travel agent.” I was very successful in the architectural design business, but I was willing to go wherever He wanted to take me. Combined with the gift of hospitality; which my parents gave me and a true desire to be of service, I help people get away from their problems and enjoy their lives. The sober cruise business is what I am best suited for.
I have held crying brides, who were sure they wanted to get divorced before going home. But before they left the cruise, I had talked them out of it. I have married many couples and have pushed people in wheelchairs to airports in Mexico. I have inflated inner tubes and have done any number of things normal travel agents would never do. I do these things because I love my alcoholics; they are my family.
How does someone like me get to see the sun come up in a hot air balloon over the jungle in Africa? When drinking in New York, I never even got to go to New Jersey! Living a sober life has enabled me to have all these wonderful adventures.
I recently celebrated 39 years of sobriety. This astounds me. The moments I have been present for and have been able to share with the folks who travel with me are beyond my comprehension. It will be my honor to escort my sober family on these trips for as long as I live. I can’t wait to see what adventures we will have on our next trip!
Snow P. in recovery for 39 years, owns the website Sober Celebrations, has trademarked Gratitude Cruises (for anonymity purposes) and has a full-service travel agency. She personally escorts fellowship vacations all over the world and weaves sobriety tools into the infrastructure of every trip. She lives in Florida with her husband of 32 years, is active in the fellowship community and is a national speaker. email@example.com