Most cruise lines have straightforward policies on cruising with pets – in most cases, it’s not allowed. That may be unhappy news for pet lovers who want to cruise, but there are good reasons why most cruise lines and ships don’t allow pets on board.
While many ships have spacious outdoor areas, they aren’t designed for the safety of pets who like to run around and explore. Some passengers may be allergic to dogs, cats or other types of pets. Plus, pets wouldn’t be allowed to disembark in most international ports of call.
Still, if you’re determined to cruise with a beloved pet, there is an option. Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 runs a kennel program on its transatlantic cruises (between Southampton and New York). While pets are not allowed to be in their owners’ staterooms, there are lovely kennels for them in a designated area of the ship. Owners are welcome to visit and play with their pets. A dedicated kennel staff takes care of feeding, exercising and cleaning up after the pets.
If you’d like to take your pet on the Queen Mary 2, be sure to make your reservations well in advance, as the kennels fill quickly. There are only 24 kennels, and sometimes one pet needs two kennels.
The general ban on sailing with pets does not include service animals, who are welcome on most cruise ships. Note that emotional support animals, while very helpful to their owners, are not considered to be service animals. In general, cruise lines define “service animals” as those that are specifically trained to do work or perform tasks to help a person who has a disability.
Requirements for service animals at sea – such as documentation that shows the animal is a service animal and has all of the necessary vaccinations – vary among cruise lines. Your professional travel advisor can provide more information about any cruise line and itinerary that you and your service animal are interested in.
When planning to cruise with a service animal, be sure to let the cruise line know as early as possible. That will provide time to arrange details, including the most convenient seating for you and your service animal in dining areas and other public spaces, space to store the animal’s food, and more. Also, keep in mind that service animals may not be able to disembark at some ports of call.
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