Pet Friendly Cruises. 6 Ways You Can Cruise With Your Pet!


Pet friendly cruises. Six ways you can cruise with your pets!

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. I’m going to talk you through six pet friendly cruises and which may be best for you and your fluffy friend.

Queen Mary 2

The easiest way to go cruising with your pet is 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. 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. At set times of the day, you can go up and interact with your dog or your cats. There are a few restrictions on the areas where you can take them for fresh air.

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 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. For example, if you hire a canal longboat in the UK you can normally take 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 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 experience some parts of Amsterdam.

Service Animals

The third easiest way to take a dog with you is if it’s a service animal. There are some key restrictions, though: a service animal has to be one that has been specifically trained to perform a task.

So, for example, a guide dog for people who are visually impaired. 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 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. 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 and there are constraints on when they’re allowed out. And which parts of the ship they’re allowed to visit.

Ship’s Captain

Another way that you can cruise with pets 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 Cruises and has a very unusual-looking cat called Bug Naked. This cat has become famous in the cruise industry. In fact, she even has her own Instagram account. People get very excited if Captain Kate is on board with Bug Naked.

On Saga Cruises, Captain Kim Tanner has a parrot called Perla, who normally stays up in the bridge. Occasionally, she will enter public areas to meet and greet guests. It’s not very common. You 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.

Regional ferry

Another pet friendly cruise option is to look at regional ferry services. This applies more in Europe, but many of the big regional ferry lines are pet-friendly. Particularly for overnight services they offer pet-friendly cabins.

As an alternative to a day crossing, you could go on a mini-cruise. Spend the day somewhere and then re-board the ferry and head back. You could also do two or three adjoining nights. A couple of examples of those are in the Baltic. There’s the Tallink Silja Line, and they cruise from Stockholm to Helsinki, to Tallinn, and Riga. I’ve seen many examples online of people that have booked back-to-back ferry trips and created a little cruise. A cruise where they can take their pets onboard. They do have a certain number of pet-friendly cabins, and there are various restrictions. Booking these 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, so again, you can create little cruises.

If you want to go between the UK and the Continent, there are many examples. With Brittany Ferries, you could go from Portsmouth in the UK to Bilbao in Spain. From Portsmouth to Le Havre, in France. Or Portsmouth to other parts of Spain, 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. You could create a little cruise around your pet, if that’s what you wanted to do. Combine that with a land-based tour where you could take your pet with you and it’s perfect.

Celebrity pets

Another way that you could embark on a pet friendly cruise without breaking all those rules is to be a celebrity or to have a celebrity pet. One of the winners of “Britain’s Got Talent” was a dog called Pudsey. Pudsey was renowned for heading off on a tour of the United States on Cunard Queen Mary 2. The dog was seen all around the ship, and even performed shows on board. 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 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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Gary Bembridge

I grew up in Zimbabwe, but I have been based in London since 1987. My travel life spans more than three decades and that includes more than 95 cruises. In 2005, I launched Tips for Travellers to make it easy and fun for people to discover, plan and enjoy incredible cruise vacations. And the rest, as they say, is history. I have the largest cruise vlogger channel currently on YouTube, with more than 3 million video views per month.

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