Are you dreaming of sipping umbrella drinks on the Lido deck while Fido splashes around in the pool? If so, you must wonder, are any cruise lines allowing pets?
Although limited, some cruise lines allow pets, including the Cunard Queen Mary 2, Tallink Silja Line, and DFDS Mini Cruise. Additionally, most cruise lines gladly allow service animals to accompany passengers with disabilities free of charge.
Should you bring your pet along on a cruise, though? Will your pet enjoy their time on the ship? And what are the pros and cons of bringing a pet on a cruise?
Find out all you need to know in our FAQ on cruising with cats and dogs. Keep in mind this article covers pets and not service animals. Service animal policies can be coordinated through the cruise line accessibility department.
Can I Take My Pet Dog or Cat on a Cruise?
The answer is yes. You can take your pet dog or cat on a cruise if you opt for one of the cruise lines that allow pets.
|Cost Per Pet Per Trip
|Cunard Queen Mary 2
|$980 – $3,000
|Tallink Silja Line
|DFDS Mini Cruise
|Mercury’s Canine Cruise
|Scenic Cruise St. Augustine
|No Additional Cost
|Cruises On The Bay (Watermark Journey)
|No Additional Cost
|DIY Stena Line Cruise
|Free – $37
|$70 to $113
|Blue & Gold Fleet Bay Cruises
Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 has to be the most notable of the bunch. The pet-friendly transatlantic cruise allows cruisers to take their pet dog or cat on sailings from New York to Southampton or Hamburg, provided they can book a spot in The Kennels, the special pet area on the ship.
Note: No other animals, such as birds or ferrets, are allowed onboard.
|Potential cruisers should note that Queen Mary 2 only has 24 kennels, and cats and larger dogs require a double kennel, severely limiting the number of passengers who can cruise with their pets.
The waitlist is incredibly long. Dogs and cats do not cruise free; rates range from $800 to $1,000 for a single kennel and twice that for a double.
Pet owners should understand that their cat or dog will not be sleeping in their bed with them. Pets will spend the entire cruise in The Kennels and are not allowed in cabins or public areas of the ship. Owners can visit with their pets only during specified visiting hours.
As a Cunard transatlantic cruise typically has no port calls (or one if your cruise from Hamburg stops in Southampton), you will not have the opportunity to take your pet off the ship for walks on land. Learn more about Queen Mary 2’s kennels and pet policy.
Can You Take Service Dogs on a Cruise?
Most cruise lines allow travelers with disabilities to bring service dogs onboard.
A service animal is specifically trained to perform tasks related to helping a human, such as leading a blind person or protecting a person having a seizure. They are working animals — typically dogs — and not pets.
Note that Cunard keeps service dogs separate from its kennel guests. Working animals can’t access The Kennels and their facilities — like how crew get separate dining and lounge spaces from passengers.
Service animals are allowed in cabins and public areas as long as they’re on a leash; however, they’re banned from swimming pools and hot tubs, the ship’s galley, and areas specific to kids or crew.
Unlike pets, service animals cruise for free. If you want to learn more about taking a service dog on a cruise, I recommend checking out Molly Burke’s video about her experience bringing her guide dog along on Celebrity Edge.
What Do I Need to Pack for a Pet or Service Animal on a Cruise?
Cruisers are responsible for bringing pet food and treats, water bowls, leashes, toys, and bedding for their animal. Cunard does provide food for pets cruising in The Kennels.
While Cunard carries life jackets for large and small animals, most other lines do not. If Fifi needs a floatie, you’ll need to pack your own.
Cruise lines will provide a sandbox or area of mulch for a service animal to relieve itself. The animal owner is responsible for cleaning up after his dog, though the crew will clean the relief box daily.
You must alert the cruise line’s access department, often within 30 days of cruising, to request a relief area. Note that the relief box will not be in your cabin or your private balcony, though the crew will try to keep it as close to your accommodations as possible.
Royal Caribbean takes extra care to note that the Central Park area on Oasis-class ships is not an acceptable place for your service dog to relieve itself. People, it’s not like the dog parks at home!
Can Emotional Support Animals Go on Cruises?
No. Because the cruise lines cannot verify that a supposed emotional support animal is a working animal, they do not allow them onboard.
|All Carnival Corporation lines have fine print saying that, “emotional support animals are not recognized by the United States Department of Justice as service animals and therefore are not permitted to sail.”
In the past, travelers have tried to sneak their pets onboard in the guise of emotional support animals, forcing cruise lines (and airlines) to make policy changes to ban them.
READ MORE: 6 Cruise Ship Spots With Gardens & Greenery
Should I Take My Dog or Cat on a Cruise?
Just because you can take a pet or service animal on a cruise doesn’t mean you should. Your pet may not enjoy the afternoon tea and ballroom dancing on Cunard as you do and might be sad that it’s spending most of its time away from you in the kennel.
We also read an account of a service animal who refused to relieve itself onboard the cruise ship and would only do so in port.
That meant it suffered an entire sea day without peeing, distressing its owner, who truly cared for his canine companion. Imagine if that had been a transatlantic cruise. You never know in advance how an animal will react to living in the artificial setting of a cruise ship.
Animal owners should note that cruise lines, including Cunard, do not offer vet services. Should Fluffy or Fido fall ill onboard, you’ll have to wait until a port day to find a vet in a foreign country or hope they can manage until the cruise ends. Do you want to risk your favorite dog or cat in that way?
Finally, individual countries have specific instructions about whether animals can come ashore and what proof of health and vaccination they need to be allowed.
|The animal’s owner must research the rules for each port of call and ensure that your four-legged companion gets all the necessary shots and documentation.
If your animal can’t come ashore, you will be forced to stay onboard; Rover can’t hang out in your cabin watching TV and ordering room service while you go on that sightseeing excursion in port.
We all desire to spend more time with our pets, but because they can’t accompany us everywhere, there are various pet care options to consider when we need to get away.
Are There Cruises for Animal Lovers?
Yes. Animal lovers can connect on themed cruises, though Fluffy and Fido will need to remain at home. Options vary yearly, but if you’re in a pet-lovers group, consider getting together to plan an animal-themed vacation at sea.
The Meow Meow Cruise is an annual sailing that attracts cat lovers who enjoy private group dinners, trivia games, cocktail parties, and scavenger hunts. I could not find an existing dog lovers’ cruise, so maybe it’s time for you to organize one!
Cruise Lines That Allow Pets FAQ
Should You Cruise With a Large Dog?
While pet-friendly cruises like Cunard accept dogs of all sizes in their kennels, larger dogs have distinct disadvantages when cruising. Big breeds like Great Danes, Mastiffs, and St. Bernards require two kennels instead of one, which doubles the cost. These dogs have large bladders, making it more challenging to go all day without relief.
How Can I Entertain My Dog on a Cruise?
Dogs left alone in an enclosed kennel all day need mental stimulation and entertainment so they don’t become anxious or bored. You’ll need to pack some puzzle toys, kongs stuffed with peanut butter, rawhides, and chews. Also, bring comfortable bedding that smells like home. Thoughtful preparation is key here!
I recommend asking about scheduling play visits with your pup and the possibility of walks on the deck at specified times. You can also request that the kennel staff pay special attention to your dog if they have difficulty adjusting to the cruise.
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