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Is There a Cruise Line That Allows Dogs?

Adrienne is a certified dog trainer and former veterinarian assistant who partners with some of the best veterinarians worldwide.

My Dog in the Comfy Cabin of an Italian Cruise

Dog friendly cruise ships.

Dog friendly cruise ships.

Thinking of Bringing Your Dog Along for a Cruise?

More and people add dogs to their families and the more they bond with their dogs, the more they feel the need to include them in their trips rather than leaving them behind in a boarding kennel or with a pet sitter.

Fact is, whether your trips are for business or pleasure, most dogs would love to happily accompany you in your adventures around the world-- of course, if this is a feasible option. Stanley Coren, a dog behavior expert, author and professor at the University of British Columbia, wisely claims: "The greatest fear dogs know is the fear that you will not come back when you go out the door without them."

Fortunately, nowadays there are many pet-friendly hotels for those who are driving and wanting to bring their pampered pooches along for the road trip, but for those who are planning to fly, things really aren't that dog friendly. Many dog owners are reluctant to fly their dogs especially for those long trips across the pond.

If the dog is large, the dog will have to go into the airplane's belly and things may get complicated down there. Some airlines don't accept certain breeds of dogs with smudged-in faces such as pugs, boxers and bulldogs. Some airlines have embargo rules where they will refuse to fly your dog if the weather is too hot or too cold at both departure and arrival cities.

Some want certain breeds of dogs contained in special CR82 crates that can be difficult to find or extremely costly. Most of this is done in the name of safety, but dog owners are often concerned about leaving their dogs in the cargo compartment especially after reading some horror stories that may have made the headlines.

For those who are moving or planning to go on vacation and don't want to fly their dogs, they may wonder if there's some sort of ship or cruise that will allow them to bring their dog along. In a dog friendly world, this would be an ideal solution. After all, why not? People go on cruises and want to have a good time instead of worrying about their dogs left behind. The cabins of many cruises are similar to hotel rooms so if hotels accept dogs, why not cruises?

If more people would travel if they could bring their pooches along, wouldn't it make sense for cruises to allow that so they could generate more revenue, and therefore, travel with less empty cabins? It makes perfectly sense, but it seems like as of today, cruises are still very strict in not allowing dogs on their cruises... except for one special cruise liner....

Nothing Beats Cruising With Your Dog

Bringing my dog on a cruise ship

Bringing my dog on a cruise ship

Introducing Cunard, the Dog Friendly Cruise-line

My research in looking for dog friendly cruises, brings me exclusively to one and only one dog-friendly cruise-line, and that is Cunard. For those planning on cruising with their dogs, let's take a closer glance in what Cunard has to offer.

  • Queen Mary 2 is Cunard's dog friendly cruise allowing dogs and cats on all Transatlantic Crossings between New York and Southampton in either direction.
  • While dogs are not welcome in the cabin, they are accommodated in the ship’s 12 kennels comprising 6 large and 6 small kennels.
  • There are 6 upper kennels measuring 27″ H, 30″ W, 35.5″ D for dogs weighing 25 lbs or less and 6 lower kennels measuring 36″ H, 30″ W, 35.5″ D for dogs weighing 26 lbs or more.
  • The upper kennel costs USD $500 and the lower Kennel costs USD $700. Based on your dog's size, he may need one or two kennels. If 2 dogs fit in one kennel the price is $500.
  • Plan on making reservations very early. I called Cunard once asking if they had space and was told they were booked a year in advance! Reservations need to made early also because it takes many months to get all the pet's paperwork ready.
  • The kennels are managed by a a full-time Kennel Master who is responsible for feeding and walking the dogs and cleaning their kennels.
  • Things get a bit complicated with paper work because dogs will have to disembark in the UK which has some strict rules when it comes to their travel scheme. You will need to have loads of paperwork ready for the Pet Passport Travel Scheme. Plan on starting your paperwork about 8 months prior to your trip.
  • In order to be allowed on the cruise, dogs will need to be microchipped with paperwork showing the veterinarian’s signature and the microchip number. Travelling dogs must be vaccinated against rabies with a certificate proving that. A titer test may be needed later on to prove that the immunization is active.
  • Dog owners must also provide a USDA-approved Vet Certificate EU 2011/874. and proof of tapeworm treatment done 24 to 120 hours prior to boarding. Also, dogs will need to receive flea and tick treatment and a certificate of good health. Make sure your vet signs the forms proving this was all done.
  • If you were able to get all this done, then after verifying all your paperwork. you will be escorted into the ship with your pampered pooch and taken to deck 12 where the kennels are.
  • Once on board, you are able to visit your dogs and spend some time with them. Visiting hours are 8:00 am to 10:00 am,11:00 am to 12:00 pm,3:00 pm to 6:00 pm and 8:00 pm to 8:30 pm. However, if you absolutely need to see your pet outside of these hours, you may contact the kennel master.
  • Your dog can hang out with other doggy guest in an indoor playroom.
  • No dogs are allowed in any guest areas of the ship.
  • Dogs are allowed to potty in a designated area of the deck.
  • Each dogs is assigned a life jacket in case of emergencies.
  • Call Cunard for the most up-to-date information as things may change time-to-time!

For a first-hand experience of a passenger travelling with her beloved dog on the Queen Mary 2, read this blog featuring Pepper the lucky voyager who got to spend some time being pampered on board. Despite some restrictions and strict rules, we must applaud Cunard for ultimately allowing dogs on board. It's a good start, and hopefully, if successful, many more cruise-lines may hopefully follow!

Why are Dogs Not Allowed on Many Cruises?

With Cunard offering pet on board now, one may question why cruises don't allow dogs on board in the first place. There may be several reasons for this, here are a few possibilities.

  1. Allowing dogs on board may require remodeling many of their compartment and cabins to accommodate pets.
  2. Allowing pets on board may require cruise lines to follow the rules of the country they are travelling to and this can be quite a burden when the cruise must sail to multiple ports and with strict quarantine and entry requirements.
  3. The company must worry about liabilities involving the presence of dogs.
  4. The cruise line industry has very strict sanitation and health codes.

On the deck of Grandi Navi Veloci

My dog on a cruise-like ship.

My dog on a cruise-like ship.

Grandi Navi Veloci, a Dog Owner's Dream Come True!

While I applaud Cunard for taking a step into making doggy travel possible, I must admit that the service offered can be significantly improved. I talk about first hand-experience. Years ago, when I was in Italy and working on getting certified as a dog trainer, I had to travel back and forth from North to South Italy. At that time, a cruise-like ferry allowed me to take Petra and Kaiser, my 2 beloved Rottweilers, on board, but most of all.. drum roll.... they were allowed in the cabin with us!

This was a dog owner's dream come true! We indeed traveled several times with them from the port of Genova to the port of Palermo, a 19-hour voyage. The experience was amazing.

Upon entering, pictures of us with our dogs were taken and later in the evening they were available for purchase. Of course, we purchased them as we didn't feel like leaving them there! Upon checking in, they gave us a welcome package with some dog treats and dog bags to help us pick up after them. Our dogs were only allowed on the pet-friendly deck where there were many other dogs and dog owners.

Dogs were allowed to potty only on the outdoor easy-to-clean designated spaces in certain decks. Now, this is not that easy for dogs who aren't used to potty in areas other than grass or dirt. Thankfully, our dogs knew how to potty on command, which is very helpful in cases as such. I recommend anybody who travels a lot to teach this command to help dogs generalize their potty behaviors to new places and new surfaces. It was our job to pick up the messes and every now and then crew members had hoses to clean up the urine.

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On the deck, we met other dogs and dog owners and all dogs were leashed. Because our dogs are Rotties we were asked by crew members to muzzle them, and I had no problem with that as I felt blessed enough to have the privilege of having them on board with us. I had a few people remark how ridiculous that was since our dogs were clearly friendly while other dogs of the "friendlier" breeds were barking and growling at other dogs and sometimes at people too. Anyhow, it was fun to take them in the elevator and then on the outdoor deck to take a leisurely evening stroll.

Interestingly, one evening we took the elevator with our 2 Rotties along with a Cane Corso. Along with us, was a lady terrified of dogs, who took advantage of the happening and stated this for her was a form of therapy and if she made it alive, she promised she would rethink her preconception that dogs were dangerous and ready to devour her! Obviously, she made it all in one piece and she was thrilled about it!

For those who think this is too good to be true, see my pictures of my Rotties on board and visit the Grandi Navi Veloci online website. There are details about the requirements.

I think more cruises need to take Cunard, and even more, Grandi Navi Veloci as an example. If they can do it, any other cruise can. Fact is though that several changes would need made and this can be quite costly. For instance, Grandi Navi Veloci solved for a good part the health and sanitation issues by removing the carpet in the cabins and replacing them with easy-to-clean linoleum floors.

All pets were only allowed on a specific deck so people who do not like dogs or are allergic to them, simply can avoid that deck. Of course, because Grandi Navi Veloci goes from point A to point B within Italy without stopping in any other ports, there are no issues such as following quarantine restrictions and strict entry requirements which makes travelling a breeze.

Obviously, this is something that cannot be replicated as easily with cruise-liners going from one country to another, and possibly, with multiple stops.

Two dogs exploring Grandi Navi Veloci

Most Cruises Don't Allow Dogs, but Some Ferries Do

While many cruise ships won't allow you to bring your dog along, many ferries will allow pets if you're just crossing a river or going from point A to point B within State lines. They may have different requirements such as only allowing pets in crates or on the car deck or any exterior decks. However, most of these crossing are very brief and I don't see any that matches the thrill of having your pet in the cabin and sleeping there right next to you.

Curiously, most ferries that allow the pets in the cabin seem to be based in Europe. Are things less stringent there or are those ferries simply more pet-friendly than abroad? A question worth pondering.

Hopefully, as the years go by, more and more cruises will start realizing that many dog owners are hoping for changes to accommodate pets on cruises too . Hopefully, a day will come when we can sail with our beloved companions along. Until then, let's applaud Cunard for acknowledging the importance pets play in people's lives.

© 2015 Adrienne Farricelli


Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 17, 2015:

It was very nice indeed. If you ever happen to travel to Southampton from New York, you can take advantage of Cunard's dog friendly cruises!

stella vadakin from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619 on February 17, 2015:

I loved this hub and was jealous I wasn't there. What a wonderful trip that must have been. Your dogs are beautiful. I never knew dogs were allowed on cruises. We travel in our Motor home instead of planes they are not animal safe. Great Hub. Voted up and sharing.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 14, 2015:

Suhail, I could only find one and that is Cunard. We need to do something to make cruises become more dog friendly!

Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent from Mississauga, ON on February 13, 2015:

Wow! What a timely article for me! Thanks for sharing.

I was wondering how to find out whether the cruise line would allow my dog to go to cruise along with me.

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