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What Is a Sober Cruise? The Pros and Cons of Sober Travel Groups and Sober Vacation Packages

Updated on October 29, 2008

Vacations can be tough. Vacations, for a lot of people, are a time for one-too-many margaritas on the beach. A time when excess is expected and fun is a first priority.

For those of us in recovery, past vacations tend to be a bit hazy in remembrance. We took the party-hard credo a little farther than most!

But the problem is, because we worked so hard in the past to get high or drunk on vacation, we kind of forget how to have a vacation without the booze or the drugs.

Vacation can trigger relapse, even for those of us with some good sober time under our belts - as old using triggers present and the temptation of really "getting away from it all" pulls strongly.

Vacations can be risky.

And it is for this very reason that a lot of people that feel strongly about staying sober, and particularly people in relatively early sobriety, are considering group "Sober Tour" style vacations as an alternative to going it alone.

What is a sober vacation?

There are loads of good (and as always, some that are not so good) tour companies out there that specialize in whole or in part in offering sober vacations. They are often on cruise ships or in resorts, and they are almost always group events, comprised of like minded people attracted to a vacation spent staying sober together.

They are supposed to be fun! But in addition to the usual pool-side lounging and site seeing and all that, most sober trips will incorporate 12 steps meetings and group sessions and affirmation lectures and things like that.

Who are they for?

With such a range of companies offering sober vacations, there are trips well suited to most people. Most people prefer to vacation with peers of a similar age, and so it is a good idea to question any prospective sober tour operator about the typical age make-up of the groups.

  • Sober vacations are often run as distinct programs on larger cruise ships
  • They can be "adventure style" trips, such as rafting or hiking expeditions
  • They are sometimes "travel" focused, with organized tours abroad

Sober vacations are suited to most people, as long as you select the kind of vacation you would typically enjoy – and then enjoy it with other sober people.

Sober group travel is particularly appropriate for people vacation for the first time, early in recovery.

Are they expensive?

As a niche group form of travel – sober vacations tend to be slightly more expensive than "mass market" travel packages. Unless they combine "recovery" programs such as therapy, there is no real reason why they need to be much more than conventional group travel packages.

Should you go on a sober vacation?

If you are in early recovery, participating in an organized sober tour can be a great way to test the waters before venturing off on solo vacations without organized support.

Vacations can be tough, and the unexpected temptations can be strong. An organized sober travel group just gives you a little support to help you make sure that your vacation fun is fun that you'll remember in the morning.


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      soberguy 6 years ago

      Sober vacations and especially sober cruises are amazing fun. I discovered them about four years into my recovery and have been going every year since.

      I always found vacations hard but this is like taking your support network on holiday with you. There are usually two or three meetings everyday and lots of opportunity to connect with people.

      I've been with a few sober vacation companies but the best one that I've found is for sheer choice and for being professional. They also do a sober safari that I'm looking forward to going on.

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      kelly 8 years ago

      At sober living by the sea in newport beach ca. we have a sober community and meetings on the beach that feels like a vacation 365 days a year. come visit us.

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      jeff williams 8 years ago

      speaking as the son of a recovered alcoholic, this was the only thing that helped my father through his hardest point.. whoever thought up this idea of sober travel was genius! actually, lead me to get more in depth about this cause and along the way in my travel marketing business, i came across some very resourceful information and ended up with some great travel leads at of the sea of happy destiny, my career is long living in the travel industry and i love my work :)

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      Snow 9 years ago

      There is nothing like taking your recovery on the road and exploring the world in fellowship! Traveling with a sober group is a blast! To go on spectacular vacations with people wearing the God glasses and have the love and support of your fellows is very special. If temptation rears its ugly head on a sober cruise, the tools of sobriety are close at hand. No matter where you are, it's always up to you to use them to stay sober. I have been doing "sober cruises" for 8 years now and have 5 trips on the boards for 2009. Great memories are made by wonderful people. I hope you join us on the "sea of happy destiny!"