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Are Pets Allowed on Cruise Ships? Can You Take Your Pet on a Cruise Vacation?

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Cunard Steward Walking Dog on Deck of Queen Mary 2

Cunard Steward Walking Dog on Deck on Queen Mary 2

Photo Courtesy of Cunard Line
Question: Are Pets Allowed on Cruise Ships? Can You Take Your Pet on a Cruise Vacation?
People love their pets and often wonder why dogs, cats, and other pet animals are not allowed on cruise ships. Why can't you take your favorite pet on a cruise?
Answer: Cruise ships cannot accommodate pets for two simple reasons. First, pets have to have somewhere to sleep, exercise, and (most importantly) relieve themselves. Cruise ships have very strict sanitation and health codes, and meeting these codes prohibits ships from allowing pets onboard. I do not think this issue will be resolved anytime in the near future.

Second, cruise ships always sail to ports in more than one country. Many of these countries have strict quarantine and entry requirements for any animals entering the country.

There is an exception to this rule. One cruise line, Cunard, does allow dogs and cats on certain transatlantic cruises on the Queen Mary 2, but many restrictions apply and space is limited. A full time kennel master is responsible for the 12 air-conditioned kennels on the QM2. The kennels and adjacent indoor and outdoor walking areas are open during certain hours to passengers who want to spend time with their pet in this restricted area. Pets are never allowed in the cabins or outside the kennel area. Reservations for the kennels may be made at time of booking, and are based on space availability. Kennel fees start at $300.

Dogs and cats onboard the Queen Mary 2 receive the same pampering their owners expect on this classic ocean liner, including a complimentary gift pack featuring a QM2-logoed coat, Frisbee, name tag, food dish and scoop; complimentary portrait with pet owners; a crossing certificate and personalized cruise card. Other pet perks include:

  • extra comfortable pet beds in two sizes
  • healthy gourmet cookies for dogs and cats baked fresh daily and offered at bedtime
  • fleece blankets
  • assortment of dog and cat toys
  • cat posts and scratchers
  • selection of premium pet foods from top brands.
History of Pets Traveling on Cunard Line
Cunard Line's pet-friendly policy dates back to the maiden voyage of the Britannia in 1840, when three cats were on board. Since then, circus elephants, canaries, a monkey and even a boa constrictor have traveled Cunard.

According to Cunard records, even some famous animals and celebrity pets have cruised with Cunard. Mr. Ramshaw, the world's only trained golden eagle, made at least 21 transatlantic crossings on mid 20th-century liners; Rin-Tin-Tin, star of 36 silent films, traveled on the Berengaria; and Tom Mix and Tony, stars of the 1930’s western series "Miracle Rider," regularly sailed with Cunard. Tony’s hooves were even fitted with special rubber shoes to prevent the horse from slipping on the gangway and decks.

In the 1950s, Elizabeth Taylor brought her dogs on board the original Queen Mary and exercised them regularly on the ship's sports deck. She even ordered special meals for them from the fish chef. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor also traveled with a beloved pup and, at the Duke's behest, Cunard installed a lamp post beside the kennels.

As the owner of both cats and dogs, I know how attached we are to them, and our dog Rip is very special. However, despite how much we love our pets, they are usually better off left at home. The strangeness of a cruise ship might scare even the most mild-mannered, well-adjusted pet. Even on the QM2, you aren't going to be able to see your pet constantly or have it sleep in your cabin. In addition, you are on a ship to have fun with your friends and family. My recommendation - find a good kennel or pet sitter and enjoy your cruise!

Poll:Would you like to take your pet on a cruise?
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