While cruises are known for the parties and the excesses that come with them, there’s a growing demand for alcohol-free alternatives among people in recovery and the general population. As a response to this trend, a unique and increasingly popular vacation option popped up: sober cruises.

A sober cruise is a cruise that doesn’t offer alcohol. These sober cruises have a special itinerary that focuses on social connection, health, and wellness without any alcohol involved.

If you’re in recovery from alcohol use or just want to explore alcohol-free vacation options, sober cruises may just be what you’re looking for.

The Rise of Sober Cruises and Alcohol-Free Vacations

With alcohol misuse being such a big problem in the US (one in ten Americans older than 12 have alcohol use disorder), especially after COVID, there’s been an increase in the demand for alcohol-free vacations, including sober cruises.

This trend shows Americans’ growing appetite for and awareness of health, wellness, and sobriety. This shouldn’t come as a surprise when trends like Dry January try to get people to start the year by reducing or eliminating their alcohol consumption, inspiring many to improve their physical and mental health beyond alcohol.

While it’s hard to put hard numbers on the rise of sober vacations, there’s a growing number of travel companies offering alcohol-free vacation packages. These cruises cater to people who want to enjoy their holidays in a substance-free environment and often provide various activities and entertainment options that don’t center around alcohol. 

What to Expect on a Sober Cruise

Sober cruises offer a refreshing change of pace compared to traditional cruises. They focus on sobriety, support groups, and health-conscious activities. These cruises often emphasize creating brief sober living communities on cruises, helping participants connect with like-minded people who are equally interested in staying sober and may be in recovery themselves.

As a result, some of the most common activities and amenities sober cruises provide include:

  • Wellness and fitness programs
  • Cultural excursions at the shore
  • Water attractions like pools and waterslides
  • Zip lines
  • Dance classes
  • Various dining options
  • Creative mocktails
  • Keynote speakers 
  • Group support activities like 12-Step and Al-Anon meetings
  • Mini-golf
  • Rock-climbing
  • Go-karts
  • Roller-coasters
  • Movie nights or live theater shows

Making the Most out of Your Sober Cruise

If you’re considering joining a sober cruise, you might be excited to experience fun and refreshing sober vacations. Still, there are a few preparations you should make to ensure you make the most out of this cruise, including:

  • Read about other people’s experiences: Before planning your trip, consider reading online forums, blog posts, or groups related to sober cruising to learn from others’ experiences and connect with fellow travelers.
  • Research multiple cruises and their itineraries: Explore multiple cruises and choose the one that best aligns with your interests and values. Read their itineraries, looking for activities and excursions focusing on wellness, sobriety, and other important aspects.
  • Clear up your intentions: Reflect deeply on your trip goals. Whether you’re looking for relaxation, adventure, connecting with like-minded people, or personal growth, having clear intentions can give you a purpose and enhance your experience.
  • Pack accordingly: Bring comfortable clothing for activities like fitness classes or excursions.
  • Plan for triggers: If you’re in recovery and the cruise you plan to attend serves alcohol, you prepare some strategies to maintain your sobriety in various scenarios. Additionally, if you have an Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor, you should probably speak to them and get their thoughts.
  • Embrace the experience: Be open to new experiences and opportunities to meet like-minded individuals.

Benefits of Choosing a Sober Cruise

Going on a sober cruise can be a very positive experience for everyone involved, especially those who’ve always associated partying and having a good time with alcohol misuse. A sober cruise gives these people the opportunity to experience fun and relaxation in an alcohol-free setting.

Some benefits of choosing a sober cruise include:

  • Mental health benefits: Sober cruises can be a stress-free environment that helps you relax and exercise mindfulness. While sober cruises do not provide professional mental health support, and you should not join one under such a premise, they can be an opportunity to find peace in a new environment.
  • Physical health benefits: By emphasizing wellness activities and healthier food options, sober cruises can promote physical well-being and act as a foundation for future healthier habits. The lack of hangovers also means more energy to enjoy activities and excursions.
  • Social connection: Meeting like-minded people in a supportive, alcohol-free setting can foster genuine connections and friendships based on shared interests that don’t involve drinking.

How to Find Sober Cruises?

Since sober cruises are a relatively new trend, finding one near you may depend on your location. With that in mind, these are some of the resources you may want to explore when looking for sober cruises:

  • Sober Celebrations โ€“ A Florida company that provides sober cruises focusing on Alcoholics Anonymous support groups.
  • Travel Sober โ€“ A division of the travel company In This Life Custom Getaways. Travel Sober performs annual trips to Greece with an emphasis on sober experiences.
  • One Day At a Time Cruises โ€“ This cruise is part of the larger Cruise Planners company, which provides sober cruises under the premise that “sobriety is a joyous adventure.”

Ultimately, almost every cruise ship out there provides alcohol, but that doesn’t mean you must drink if you travel in one. In fact, sober cruises can be an excellent opportunity to surround yourself with people who are equally interested in having a good time away from alcohol.

Whether you’re in active alcohol use disorder recovery and want to unwind in a safe space, or you’re just looking for alternatives to traditional cruises, sober cruises may provide what you’re looking for.