Say you want to take your dog on a cruise to Hawaii, your cat on a carnival cruise, or your assistance animal on an ocean vacation. Do cruise lines allow pets or dogs and emotional support animals to travel with people?

The answer is that your choices are very limited when it comes to traveling with furry friends. Only one cruise line allows cats and dogs on board, but you have more options if you travel with an official service dog. And while you can take your dog on a cruise, you have to decide if that’s the best idea for your furry friend.

Find out everything you need to know in our FAQs on travelling with dogs and cats.

Can I take my dog or cat as a pet on a cruise?

Most cruise lines do not allow pets, with the exception of Cunard’s Queen Mary 2. Cunard cruisers can bring their dog or cat on transatlantic flights between New York and Southampton or Hamburg, provided they can reserve a seat in The Kennels, a dedicated pet area on the ship. Other animals, such as birds or ferrets, are not allowed on board.

Potential cruisers should note that the Queen Mary 2 has only 24 cages, and large cats and dogs require double cages, which significantly limits the number of passengers who can travel with their pets. The waiting list is incredibly long. Dogs and cats do not travel for free; prices range from $800 to $1,000 for a single kennel and double that for a double kennel.

Pet owners need to understand that their cat or dog will not sleep in bed with them. Pets stay in kennels throughout the cruise and are not allowed in cabins or public areas of the ship. Owners may only visit their pets during certain visiting hours. As a Cunard transatlantic cruise does not usually involve a stopover (or if your cruise from Hamburg stops in Southampton), you do not have the option of taking your pet off the ship for a stopover ashore.

Learn more about Queen Mary 2’s kennel and pet policy.

Are assistance dogs allowed on a cruise?

Most cruise lines allow disabled passengers to bring their service dog on board. An assistance animal is an animal that has been specially trained to perform tasks related to helping a person, such as guiding a blind person or protecting a person with an epileptic seizure. These are working animals, mostly dogs, not pets.

(Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons/widdlle)

Pay attention: Cunard separates service dogs from kennel guests. Working animals do not have access to the kennels and their facilities – for example, the crew have separate dining and lounge areas from the passengers. Service animals are allowed in cabins and public areas on a leash; however, they must not use the swimming pools and hot tubs, the ship’s kitchen or the children’s or crew areas.

Unlike pets, assistance animals travel for free. If you would like to learn more about taking a guide dog on a cruise, we encourage you to watch Molly Burke’s video about her experience with a guide dog on Celebrity.

What should I bring for my pet or assistance animal on a cruise?

Cruisers should provide food and treats, water bowls, leashes, toys and bedding for their pet. (Cunard provides food for pets travelling in kennels). Cunard offers life jackets for small and large animals, but most other companies do not. If Fifi needs a fleet, you gotta pack your bags.

Cruise lines provide a sandbox or mulch area for the service animal to escape to. The pet owner is responsible for cleaning their dog, although the team cleans the rescue box daily. You must notify the cruise line’s access department, often within 30 days prior to the cruise, to request an assistance room. Please note that the first aid kit is not located in your cabin or on your private balcony, although the crew will try to place it as close to your accommodation as possible.

Royal Caribbean makes it a point to inform you that the Central Park area on Oasis Class ships is not an acceptable place for your dog to relax. Guys, this is not like a dog park back home!

Can animals be taken on a cruise for emotional support?

No. Since cruise lines cannot confirm that the animal that is supposed to be an emotional support is a working animal, they will not let it on board. All Carnival Corporation lines state in fine print that emotional support animals are not recognized as support animals by the U.S. Department of Justice and therefore are not allowed to swim.

In the past, travelers have tried to sneak on board and pretend to be emotional support animals, forcing cruise lines (and airlines) to change their policies to ban them.

READ MORE: 6 cruise ship locations with gardens and green spaces

Should I bring my dog or cat on a cruise?

Just because you can bring a pet or assistance animal on a cruise doesn’t mean you have to. Your dog won’t enjoy afternoon tea and ballroom dancing at the Cunard as much as you will, and he may even regret not spending most of his time with you in the kennel.

We also read about an assistance animal that refused to be released on a cruise ship and only wanted to do so in port. He had to suffer all day without peeing, which upset his owner, who was very fond of his canine companion. Think of it as a transatlantic cruise. You never know in advance how an animal will react to living in the artificial conditions of a cruise ship.

Pet owners should be aware that cruise lines, including Cunard, do not offer veterinary services. If Fluffy or Fido get sick on board, you have to wait a day in port for a vet abroad, or hope they make it to the end of the cruise. Are you willing to risk your beloved dog or cat in this way?

(Photo courtesy of Cunard/Christopher Eason)

Finally, each country has specific guidelines regarding permission to land animals and the health and vaccination certificates they must provide. It is the pet owner’s responsibility to review the rules of each port of call and ensure that their four-legged friend receives all necessary vaccinations and documentation. If it turns out that your pet cannot come ashore with you, you will be forced to stay on board with him; Rover cannot stay in your cabin, watching TV and ordering room service while you go to port.

Are there cruises for animal lovers?

Yes. Animal lovers will be able to interact with each other during the themed cruises, although Fluffy and Fido will have to stay home. Options may change each year, but if you’re part of an animal-loving group, consider getting together to plan a pet holiday.

The Meow Meow Cruise is an annual sailing that attracts cat lovers who enjoy private group dinners, trivia, cocktails and scavenger hunts. We haven’t found a cruise for dog lovers yet, so maybe it’s time to organize one!

Let me see later!

frequently asked questions

Are there any cruise lines that accept dogs?

When it comes to cruise ships allowing pets, there is only one: Queen Cunard Mary 2. On some transatlantic voyages – between New York and Southampton, in either direction – you can bring your dog or cat, but that doesn’t mean your furry family members can nestle in your cabin.

Does Royal Caribbean allow pets?

Royal Caribbean International welcomes assistance dogs on all ships. * Please note that we do not accept pets. * … Assistance dogs may accompany a disabled person in all public areas, including dining halls.

Are pets allowed on Norwegian Cruise Line?

Norwegian Cruise Line – Pets, other than assistance animals, are not permitted on board. Royal Caribbean International – Royal Caribbean International welcomes guide dogs on all ships. They do not accept pets.

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