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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