Who are Friends of Bill W. and Dorothy on cruises?

Jun 14, 2022

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If you’ve ever sat scratching your head over the “Friends of Dorothy” and “Friends of Bill W.” get-togethers listed in your cruise ship’s daily newsletter, you’re not alone.

Many people have asked, “Who is Bill W. on cruise ships?” No, Bill’s not an avid cruiser, but many of his pals — and Dorothy’s — are.

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Friends of Bill W.

A sign for an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. (Photo by Tom Weller/picture alliance/Getty Images)

Bill W. refers to Bill Wilson, one of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. “Friends of Bill W.” is code for AA meetings, inviting recovering alcoholics to meet during their sailings, especially if they find it difficult to be around others who are imbibing.

On a cruise, Friends of Bill W. join together on board to support one another in their mission to abstain from drinking. The term Friends of Bill W. allows for anonymity and gives AA attendees a subtle way to find one another and continue meetings on vacation.

Friends of Dorothy

Friends of Dorothy is another name for LGBTQ+ meetups. (Photo by Prasit photo/Getty Images)

The “Friends of Dorothy” are members of the LGBTQ+ community.

It’s rumored that Dorothy refers to the main character from “The Wizard of Oz,” played by gay icon Judy Garland. Due to the movie’s affinity for rainbows and Dorothy’s unconventional band of misfits, the film and its star have resonated with the LGBTQ+ community for decades.

Although Friends of Bill W. meetings still regularly appear on vessels’ onboard schedules as such, it has become somewhat stilted to refer to LGBTQ+ gatherings as Friends of Dorothy meetings. Instead, they are simply called what they are, similar to meetups for solos, teens and other passenger groups. The get-togethers are typically held in an onboard bar or lounge, sometimes hosted by a member of the ship’s entertainment staff, allowing LGBTQ+ passengers to meet each other and socialize.

Got more cruise questions? TPG has answers:

Featured photo by Cordelia Molloy/Science Photo Library/Getty Images.

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