What Is Friends of Bill W. on a Cruise?

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If you take a look at your cruises’ daily schedule, you’ll notice “Friends of Bill W.” or “Friends of Dorothy” meetings.

If you’re wondering what is Friends of Bill W. on a cruise, you’re not alone. Bill W. and Dorothy are not passengers on board. But they do have many friends.

Friends of Bill W. on a Cruise

Norwegian Cruise Line Pearl meeting room set up for Friends of Bill W. Alcoholics Anonymous
(Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line)

“Friends of Bill W.” is code for Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings on the cruise ship, named after Bill W., one of the organization’s founders. The meetings provide a support system to recovering alcoholics during the cruise.

Cruises are a difficult environment for passengers in recovery. Cruise lines provide a safe space for guests to meet in a judgment-free setting.

The meetings support passengers and allow them to continue their journey by participating in Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. The setting allows members to form a support network with other passengers once onboard.

Members often use the euphemism “Friends of Bill W.” as a code to show their support.

Most non-members outside of AA don’t know the phrase, which allows them to maintain anonymity. The term is occasionally shortened to “FOB.”

Cruise ships often hold daily Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. They may be attended by members of similar support groups, including Overeaters Anonymous (OA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA).

Most cruise lines offer self-led meetings. In other words, the meetings aren’t held by cruise line staff. And members are free to join without registration.

If there isn’t a “Friends of Bill W.” meeting scheduled, members should contact guest services to arrange a meeting.

Friends of Dorothy

LGBTQ+ couple holding hands in front of a rainbow pride flag in a lgbtq+ lesbian gay bisexual queer pride parade or party.

Friends of Dorothy is a self-led event on cruise ships for members of the LGBTQ+ community. It’s rumored that the meetings get their name from gay icon Judy Garland, who played Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz.”

The self-led get-togethers provide a safe and welcoming space for members of the LGBTQ+ community to meet and mingle with others.

In recent years, many cruise lines have done away with the “Friends of Dorothy” code name in favor of losing the events as “LGBTQ+ meet and greets” or a similar name.

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Marcello De Lio

I’ve been cruising since I was 11 years old. I love the freedom that cruising provides, meeting new people, and exploring amazing new ships. I love to share my passion for cruising and travel with readers.

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