Sailing and Support on the High Seas

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The Celebrity Solstice, the 2019 Snooze Cruise ship, exploring the Endicott Arm Fjord in Alaska.

All cruises are enjoyable, but imagine a cruise where your fellow passengers also have IH or a related sleep disorder. And everywhere you look, people understand your sleep disorder and how you’re feeling. Then picture yourself surrounded by understanding, support and hope – you’ve just imagined a Snooze Cruise! Sponsored by the Hypersomnia Alliance (HA), a patient organization whose mission is to provide a supportive environment for those living a sleepy life, the latest Snooze Cruise (June 2019) transported people with hypersomnias and their supporters to Alaska, the Land of the Midnight Sun. But whatever the destination, the HA’s Snooze Cruises are supportive and hopeful events, from beginning to end, from bow to stern.

In 2016, the HA, recognizing that power comes from supporting one another, began researching the idea of holding retreats for people with hypersomnias. But given the difficulties that people with IH and related sleep disorders face when traveling, the HA determined that a cruise might be the easiest way for these sleepy people to travel. And so the idea of a Snooze Cruise was born!

In 2017, the first Snooze Cruise was held. Over 45 people (including people with hypersomnias and their supporters) embarked on a 5-day trip to the Western Caribbean. That first trip was so successful that, the next year, the Snooze Cruise traveled to the Eastern Carribean. And just this past June, Snooze Cruise 2019 traveled from Seattle to Alaska.

The Snooze Cruise banner, pointing the way to the first official group meeting.

To make it easier on those traveling with a hypersomnia, the HA structures these retreats with hypersomnias specifically in mind. For example, there are no early morning meetings, and everyone understands if a traveler can’t wake up or can’t stay awake. “Support meetings” happen from the time a traveler steps on the ship until they get off – not only in organized, scheduled events but also during group activities, meals, casual meet-ups, excursions off the ship, and more. Information about hypersomnias (including current events) is presented, sometimes by members of the Hypersomnia Foundation’s (HF’s) Board and/or the HF’s Patient Advisory and Advocacy Council (PAAC), who may also join the cruise.

And booking a Snooze Cruise means booking a complete package, and then leaving the details to others – no worrying about preparing meals, cleaning up, doing laundry, driving from destination to destination, etc. (And if something does come up, the HA organizers are right there on the ship to solve the problem.) In addition, since the Snooze Cruises are announced at least one year ahead of time, this allows people with a hypersomnia to have something hopeful to look forward to, while at the same time allowing them to be able to make plans far in advance and manage smaller, monthly payments (which are big benefits for sleepy people trying to manage their lives and expensive medication costs). Finally, and perhaps best of all, there are no “helpful suggestions” being made onboard about treatment, such as taking vitamin B-12, following better sleep hygiene habits, going gluten-free, drinking apple cider vinegar, cutting out dairy, or learning about the power of crystals to cure your sleepiness. Everyone in the group “gets it” – everyone understands. And everyone is encouraging of each other.

This includes the supporters of people living with hypersomnias, who often find that the Snooze Cruises are the first time that they, too, feel understood. It’s not easy living with IH or a related sleep disorder – and it’s also not easy supporting them. Loved ones may feel a variety of emotions, including frustration, sadness and guilt, but are reluctant to express these emotions to anyone. Snooze Cruises give loved ones an opportunity to share their feelings with others in the same situation, without fear of criticism or shame. That’s important, and that’s why Snooze Cruises are designed to provide a support system for everyone.

Where will the next Snooze Cruise go? At this time, it’s still being discussed by the HA. But no matter the destination, the goals of the Snooze Cruise will remain the same – to provide a retreat that is both fun and supportive, that is both educational and inspirational, and that harnesses the power of old friends and new friends saying to each other “you are not alone.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: As mentioned above, the Snooze Cruise is sponsored by the Hypersomnia Alliance (HA), which is independent of, and not affiliated with, the Hypersomnia Foundation. The HA is a patient organization whose mission is to provide a supportive environment for those living a sleepy life by increasing awareness, promoting local support groups, connecting members, and hosting support retreats. To learn more about the organization or to find out about the next Snooze Cruise, please contact the Hypersomnia Alliance at or via their Facebook page or website.

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