Pet-Friendly Cruises: How to Cruise with Your Pet

Pet friendly cruises are on the rise, with major cruise lines such as Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 accommodating pet owners and their pets. This guide provides an overview of the available pet friendly cruise options, covering details about pet accommodations and amenities. It also outlines the policies for service animals and emotional support animals, noting that while most cruise lines cater only to service animals, there are exceptions like Queen Mary 2, which extends its hospitality to pets in general.

Embarking on Pet Friendly Cruise Lines

Queen Mary 2: A Premier Haven for Pet Enthusiasts 

The Queen Mary 2's Transatlantic Crossings, under the Cunard Line, is a beacon of luxury and comfort for pet lovers seeking to explore pet-friendly cruises. This cruise ship welcomes cats and dogs, providing an oasis where every need is met. 

The ship is equipped with 24 spacious kennels, providing pets with a comfortable stay overseen by a professional kennel master. The kennel master's role is to oversee this care, affording owners the peace of mind to fully engage in the cruise experience. Pets receive top-notch treatment, from gourmet food to festive-themed events, mirroring the enjoyment of their owners. The Queen Mary 2 allows multiple visiting times throughout the days for frequent interactions, ensuring pet owners can make the most of their cruise while being reassured of their pets' wellbeing. A selection of amenities ensures that pets enjoy the voyage alongside their owners. 

Cunard's "Pets on Deck" program includes all pet food (and special foods upon request), fresh-baked biscuits, a choice of beds and blankets, and even a coat with a QM2 logo. As part of the enhanced program, traveling dogs and cats also receive a complimentary gift pack featuring a frisbee, name tag, food dish, and scoop, a complimentary portrait with pet owners, a crossing certificate, and a personalized cruise card. 

On the Queen Mary 2, cat owners must have two kennels, one for the cat itself and one for its litter box. This two-kennel rule also applies to large sized dogs, if your dog is taller than 39 inches, it is advisable to get two kennels to make sure your dog can fit comfortably. Dogs like huskies and labs are usually over the size limit and require two kennels.

Where Do Dogs Go on Cruise Ships?

On cruise ships like Queen Mary 2, pets are housed in secure, well-maintained kennels. Dedicated visitation times are allocated, allowing pet owners to have specific visiting hours to bond with their pets.  

Service dogs, however, are permitted to stay in the cabins with their owners, with designated areas assigned to cater to their needs, ensuring a pleasant and enjoyable journey for all.

Can You Bring a Dog on a Cruise?

Yes, you can bring your dog on a cruise with the Cunard Cruise Line on the Queen Mary 2. Other than service dogs, the Queen Mary 2 is the only dog friendly cruise available.

Can Dogs Come on Carnival Cruise?

No, the Carnival Cruise Line prohibits dogs from boarding their ships. However, service dogs are the exception and are allowed on Carnival Cruises, acknowledging the essential support they provide to individuals with additional support needs. For travelers looking to cruise with their furry friends, consider other cruise lines that offer pet friendly accommodations and amenities, like the Queen Mary 2.

Does Royal Caribbean Allow Dogs?

Royal Caribbean doesn’t allow dogs, with the exception of service animals. 

How to Cruise With Your Service Animals

Most cruise lines, including reputable names like Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises, extend a warm welcome to service animals, recognizing their vital role. Service animals are granted access to the majority of public spaces onboard, ensuring that every passenger can fully partake in and enjoy the plethora of facilities, amenities, and services available onboard. These include dining areas, entertainment venues, and recreational facilities, allowing passengers and their service animals to experience the cruise in its entirety.

The policies regarding emotional support animals vary across different cruise lines. Some cruise lines are more accommodating, such as Cunard, Royal Caribbean, and Celebrity Cruises, allowing them onboard with proper documentation.

Tips for Taking Pets on a Cruise With You

Embarking on a cruise with pets requires meticulous planning and consideration. The following are some strategies to ensure a seamless and enjoyable experience for both you and your furry friend.

Diligent Research

Look into the specific policies, offerings, and pet friendly cruise options available. Consider the type of pets allowed, your pet’s needs, and evaluate the array of facilities provided to assess whether pet friendly cruising is right for you and your pet.

Packing the Essentials

For pet owners going on the Queen Mary 2 Transatlantic Crossings, most of the pet care essentials are included. As such, bring any necessary medications, comfort items, or other unique items for your pet to avoid any inconveniences during the journey. 

If you are taking a non-pet friendly cruise with your service dog, it is advisable to bring all necessary items that your dog needs day-to-day.

Acclimatizing Your Pet

Your pet will be in a new environment with a lot of unfamiliar sights, sounds, and smells. Not bringing items from home to make them comfortable, such as their bed, toys, and usual food, can increase their anxiety. Preparing your pet for their stay in a kennel allows for a smooth cruise experience, especially on a ship like the Queen Mary 2, where pets are welcome. 

The first step in ensuring a comfortable experience for your pet on a cruise is by getting them accustomed to being in a kennel. To do so, introduce your pet to a kennel before the cruise, allowing them to get comfortable and feel secure in a kennel.

While onboard, make the most of visitation times with your pet in the kennel. Bring along your pet's favorite treats and toys to create a sense of familiarity and comfort. Additionally, communicate your pet's specific needs and preferences to the kennel master, ensuring that your furry companion feels at ease during their time in the kennel.

By taking these steps, you can help your pet transition smoothly to the kennel environment and enjoy a stress-free cruise vacation.

Common Mistakes Pet Owners Make on Pet Friendly Cruises

While planning a cruise vacation with pets, be mindful of potential pitfalls. The following is a list of some of the most important factors to keep in mind when planning a cruise with your pets.

Neglecting Cruise Line Policies

Each cruise line has its own specific set of rules when it comes to pets onboard. This can include restrictions on the types or sizes of pets allowed, the number of pets you can bring, and the areas of the cruise ship where pets are permitted. Make sure to read these policies carefully to avoid any surprises.

Overlooking Essential Documentation

Just like their human companions, pets often need documentation when traveling, especially on a cruise ship. This can include vaccination records, a recent health certificate, and a pet passport if traveling internationally. Make sure you have all the required documents well in advance of your departure date.

When traveling with a service dog, be sure to bring documentation proving their role.

Misjudging Packing Needs

Make sure while planning and packing for your trip that you look into the specific sailing you're taking and make a list of all the supplies you may need for your pet along the way. Some trips may be more inclusive in terms of what supplies are provided so bring some of the essentials with you. Depending on your trip this may include food, dog bags, leashes, kennels, and others depending on your pet's needs and what is provided by the cruise.

Venturing Across the Seas with Furry Companions

Cruising with pets presents a unique set of challenges and joys that can enhance the travel experience for pet owners. The Queen Mary 2 offers a level of service and care that ensures pets enjoy their journey across the sea as much as their owners do. From the comprehensive "Pets on Deck" program to the attentive services of a dedicated kennel master, Cunard Line has set the bar high for those wishing to travel with their beloved animals.

While not all cruise lines accommodate pets, the availability of services for service animals across major cruise lines like Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises ensures that those with disabilities can travel with their indispensable companions with ease and comfort.

As with any travel plans involving pets, it is paramount for pet owners to engage in thorough research, to pack with care, and acclimate their pets to the unique environment of a cruise ship. This proactive approach, coupled with an understanding of cruise line policies and the needs of your pet, can lead to an unforgettable cruise experience filled with wonderful memories for both you and your pet.

Expert Author: Bruce Parkinson

Bruce has written about the travel industry for over three decades, focusing on ocean and river cruising in recent years. Currently Senior Editor for TravelPulse Canada, Bruce is also a travel communications consultant and contributor to the popular