Can I Take My Dog On a Cruise?

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As it becomes harder and harder to travel with your dog by plane, you might be looking for other ways to travel with your favorite furry companion. Many dog people opt for road trips, while others are taking their small pets on Amtrak, but some dog lovers really want to sail away with their pet.

But the answer to the question, “Can I take my dog on a cruise?” is, with one major exception, no.

The vast majority of cruise ships and cruise companies have a very straightforward no pets’ policy. That said, we’ll walk you through the options that do exist for going on a cruise with your dog.

Ok, but what about service animals?

As of 2005, cruise liners must allow service animals on board. According to Cruise Talk, “The ADA defines a service animal as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. If they meet this definition, animals are considered service animals under the ADA regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government.”

Many cruises don’t even ask for service dog documentation, in fact. While most people are following the rules, some have abused the flexibility.

Cruise Critic posted numerous reports of suspicious “service animals.” One of their readers wrote: “We had a small ‘service dog’ on our last cruise that was being pushed around in a stroller!” She goes on to say, “someone came in with their dog in a stroller, wheeled it up to her table and set his food bowl on the table for him to eat alongside her. I am a dog lover, but I think things are going a bit far.”

That said, if you do have a legitimate disability and your dog is a helper dog, you can absolutely bring them on a cruise ship. Learn more from US Service Animals site.

Cruising with your dog on the Atlantic

The Cunard Line has the only major cruise ship, the Queen Mary 2 that allows cats and dogs (and ferrets???) on board. There are many, many caveats.

This megacruise ship travels from New York to Southampton, England, or Hamburg, Germany. The 1,132-foot vessel holds 2,691 guests. But fantasies about hanging out in your cabin with your pup are just that—fantasies.

Throughout the duration of the trip, your dog or cat will be in the kennel. There are lengthy visitation hours and though pets can’t roam freely throughout the ship, there’s a new lounge area, play area, and an outside walking area where you can take your dog to stretch their legs.

If you are worried about your dogs being lonely overnight, never fear. There’s a kennel master watching the animals at all times.

Which pets can travel on the Queen Mary 2?

Cunard has recently redone the ship, so the Queen Mary 2 has doubled the kennel space capacity—from 12 to 24. As you can imagine, those spots go very fast. The kennels are split in half by size and weight (over 25 pounds and under 25 pounds).

Certain dog breeds are not allowed due to size or other issues. Disallowed dog breeds include:

  • Afghan hound
  • Curly-coated retriever
  • Bloodhound
  • Gordon Setter
  • Borzoi (Russian Wolfhound)
  • Great Dane
  • Briard
  • Greyhound
  • Irish Wolfhound
  • Irish Setter
  • Mastiff
  • Deerhound
  • Newfoundland
  • Doberman
  • Great Pyrenees
  • St. Bernard
  • Saluki
  • Weimaraner
  • Bull Mastiff
  • Malamute
  • Pit bulls
  • Fila Brasilieros
  • and more

Preparing for the trip

It goes without saying that your pet will need all kinds of paperwork before embarking on their journey. You must show that they’ve been vaccinated, have a PET passport or certificate, have received tapeworm treatment, and have been fitted with a microchip.

Taking your pet on this Atlantic cruise is expensive, as well. Kennels are between $800 to $1000. Many people who take this voyage are moving their pets to another country. For more information, email kennels@cunard.com. Complete Cruise Solution has more details as well.

Besides the Queen Mary 2, you won’t find other ocean-going cruises that accept pets. However, there is another option!

Scenic cruises with dogs

Dog on a boat

Now that I’ve probably squashed your dreams of sailing the ocean with your dog, you can focus on more a realistic, and achievable goal—a scenic cruise. Many regional river cruises are a few hours long and do accommodate your dog.

A few of these include the Potomac Riverboat’s Canine Cruise, a 45-minute ride in Alexandria, Virginia; in the South, you can go on BayWatch Dolphin Tours in Galveston, Texas, (infants and pets ride free); in Seattle, Bring Fido lists five dog-friendly boat tours, including the Fremont Sunday Ice Cream Cruise.

Need dog care?

If you still want to go on that cruise, a real one—not one that’s just 45 minutes—you’ll have to leave your dog or cat behind.

Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to book a local, loving pet sitter with Rover. Keep your pet safe and sound while you are cruising the seven seas, and rest assured they’re likely happier at home (not least because the conditions of cruise ship life are generally stressful for dogs.)

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