Pet friendly cruises. Six ways you can cruise with your pets!
I’m asked a surprisingly large amount of times how – or if – you can cruise with your pet. If it’s something you want to do, you have six options
Queen Mary 2
The first and easiest way to go cruising with your pet is to go on a Cunard Queen Mary 2 transatlantic crossing. It’s the only ship in the world today that has kennels onboard. The ship has 22 kennels, and can take dogs and cats, but no birds or any other type of animals.
However, there is quite a cost associated with it: if you want to hire a lower kennel, it costs $1,000 for a seven-day crossing, and an upper kennel costs $800. Dogs aren’t allowed to share the kennels, so you’d have to buy one for each dog. Cats can share kennels, however, if you take a cat, you actually have to buy two kennels next to each other anyway because one has to house the litter tray, the other the cat.
There is a kennel master who makes sure that the animals are walked and cared for, and then at set times of the day, you can actually go up and interact with your dog or your cats. There are quite a few restrictions, though, on the areas where you can take them out and about.
It’s extremely popular, and you have to book at least 12 to 18 months in advance. The kennels only operate on the transatlantic service between Hamburg, Southampton, and New York; New York, Southampton, and Hamburg. You can’t travel with pets any other time on Queen Mary 2.
River and Canal
Your second key option is really in Europe where there are a certain number of cruises on which you’re allowed to take pets. You can generally take pets on canal cruises, particularly in the UK and in France, so for example if you hire a canal longboat in the UK you can normally take dogs – even a couple of dogs – on those. The same is true in France, if you’re chartering or hiring your own canal boat. So that’s a key option particularly if you’re in Europe, or perhaps you brought your dog over on the Queen Mary 2!
There’s also a river cruise ship called the MS Normandie, and at certain times of the year, they do cruises where they allow pets. They do some Rhine cruises, and some on the Moselle, so you can cruise and see some of the beautiful sights on the Rhine: the castles, etc, and also experience some parts of Amsterdam.
The third easiest way to take a dog with you is if it’s a service animal, so I guess in these cases, it’s not really a pet. There are some key restrictions, though: a service animal has to be one that has been specifically trained to perform some kind of task.
So, for example, a guide dog for people who are visually impaired, and it has to be a physical disability – emotional support animals are no longer allowed. Royal Caribbean was one of the very last, but last year they banned emotional support animals because it felt like people were just using it as an excuse to bring pets on board.
There are slightly different rules and regulations for service animals by cruise line. So, once you’ve chosen your cruise, you will need to double check. They all have varying degrees of notice that you’ll have to give, and normally you’ll have to provide some sort of documentation to show that they’re a service animal. Plus, obviously they’ll need all the correct inoculations, and all of the various port clearances to enable them to come on board. Also, very importantly, many of the cruise lines will only allow service animals that will embark and disembark at the same port.
In Europe, there is capacity to bring on service animals, but it’s slightly more complicated, however you can get what’s known as a pet passport, which will enable you to move your pets around. The cruise lines vary in what they will provide, for example on Holland America and Royal Caribbean, they create specific areas where you can go and walk your dog. Many of them have regulations: they have to stay on the lead, for example, and there are constraints on when they’re allowed out, which parts of the ship they’re allowed out on, etc
Another way that you can cruise with pets, perhaps that are not dogs and cats, is to be the captain of a cruise ship.
There are two well-known examples: one of the best documented is Captain Kate who works for Celebrity and has a very unusual-looking cat which is called Bug Naked. This cat has become really famous in the cruising industry, in fact she even has her own Instagram account. People get very excited if Captain Kate is on board Celebrity Edge with Bug Naked.
The other example that I’ve seen is on Saga Cruises. Captain Kim Tanner has a parrot called Perla, who normally stays up in the bridge, but will occasionally come out and see the public areas to meet and greet guests. It’s not very common, and you do need a very forgiving and open-minded head office, but it certainly proves that if you are the captain of a cruise ship, you can probably find a way to bring your pet on board.
Another pretty easy way of going cruising, although as you’ll see it’s not really true cruising, is to look at regional ferry services. This really applies much more in Europe, but many of the big regional ferry lines are pet-friendly, and particularly for overnight services, they do have pet-friendly cabins.
You could go on a mini-cruise where you could actually cruise somewhere, spend the day, then reboard the ferry and head back, or you could do two or three adjoining nights. A couple of examples of those are in the Baltics: there’s the Tallink Silja Line, and they cruise from Stockholm to Helsinki, to Tallinn, and Riga, and I’ve seen many examples online of people that have put together back-to-back ferry trips in what’s a rather nice part of the world and created a little cruise where they can take their pets onboard. They do have a certain number of pet-friendly cabins, and they do have various restrictions, so booking those in advance is important.
A couple of other examples are the Viking Line – not to be confused with Viking Cruises – which is another regional ferry service that operates between Finland and Sweden, and Finland and Estonia. They also have a number of pet-friendly cabins, and so again you can create little cruises by bouncing around those different places.
If you want to go between the UK and the Continent, there are many examples, for example with Brittany Ferries you could go from Portsmouth in the UK to Bilbao in Spain, from Portsmouth to Le Havre in France, or from Portsmouth to other parts of Spain as well, like Santander. It’s more of a ferry service but many of these overnight ferries operate like a cruise. They have restaurants, shows, entertainment and lots going on, so you could create a little cruise around your pet, if that’s what you wanted to do. You could then combine that with a land-based tour where, of course, you could take your pet with you.
Another way that you could find without breaking all those rules is to be a celebrity or certainly to have a celebrity pet. So, for example, one of the winners of “Britain’s Got Talent” was a dog called Pudsey. Pudsey was renowned for heading off on a tour in the United States of America on Cunard Queen Mary 2, and certainly the dog was seen all around the ship, and even performed shows on board, so clearly if you are a celebrity and you have a pet, you’re probably going to find a way of getting your pet onboard.
So, can you cruise with a pet? It’s very difficult. The only traditional way of doing it is on the Queen Mary 2 on a transatlantic voyage, or, of course, if you have some kind of service dog.
If you found this helpful and interesting, why don’t you watch one of my many cruising videos full of tips and advice right now?
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