About 60.2 million American households own dogs. (1) People are very attached to them. In Europe, it’s common for people to bring their dog to pubs and restaurants. (In the UK you get the idea all dogs are on Valium, but that’s another story.) You might wonder, when I take a cruise, can my dog come along too?
Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 is the only ship I’m aware of that has provisions for pets. There’s an onboard kennel for dogs and cats. (2) Originally designed with 12 spaces, the most recent renovation expanded the capacity to about 24. The kennels are used only during transatlantic crossings. You can’t bring your dog on the world cruise!
The fact Cunard has an onboard kennel should come as no surprise. The QE2 even had an onboard garage for people who wanted to bring their car with them. As you can imagine, both the kennels and garage are primarily for people relocating from one side of the Atlantic to the other.
Sailing With Your Dog – What Do You Need to Know?
Although there are lots of dogs in US households, most people won’t choose to take them on vacation. There are too many variables that make it complicated. However, some people will make that choice, which is why the ship has a kennel. It’s why the spaces go pretty quickly.
Let’s assume you figured out the obvious stuff. Your pet is healthy. You’ve booked space far in advance. You and your pet are sailing over and flying home. Maybe you and your pet are sailing over, staying a few weeks and sailing back across the Atlantic. You’ve completed the paperwork necessary for the ship and your country of arrival (and others you will be visiting.)
- Their own space. Your pet doesn’t stay in your cabin. It doesn’t sit beside you in the dining room. They “live” in the kennel accommodations on one of the higher decks.
- You are their guest. Pet owners can visit their pets quite often during the voyage. There’s dedicated deck space alongside the kennel, complete with deck chairs and blankets. The rail is fenced off. You can walk your dog in the dedicated deck space. You and your dog can sit in a deck chair. You can read to your dog.
- The staff will walk your dog for you. Back home, you need to get out of bed early when your dog says: “I have to go out…now.” At sea, Cunard has a staff that walked the dogs at various times of the day, so you can be freed from a schedule.
- It doesn’t smell familiar. This isn’t the problem you might imagine. The deck area outside the kennel has a New York City fire hydrant and a lamp post from Liverpool. There’s also Astro turf. Your dog should feel right at home.
- I didn’t bring my dog, but I love dogs. Regular passengers can walk up to the kennels, watch the dogs being walked and see how they play with their owners. Some owners might bring their dog to the gate so you can pet them. Passengers cannot actually enter the area with pets. Only owners are allowed.
- What happens if it rains? There’s an indoor seating area with plenty of sofas. Dog owners can spend time with their dogs inside, not outside.
- My dog has a special diet. You can bring your own dog food. The staff will serve it. However, meals are included for your pet, just like they are included for you during the voyage.
- How can my dog tell their friends about their experience? Dogs traveling in the kennels are given a gift package including a Cunard dog coat, Frisbee, professional photo and other souvenirs. They have bragging rights.
- What’s it cost? My understanding is the cost is $800-$1,000 to bring your pet on a seven day crossing. Check with your travel agent or Cunard representative.
- Is a carrier needed? Yes, especially if you are flying home! Pets arrive and depart the Queen Mary 2 in their own pet carriers, which you provide.
- I’m not bringing my dog. Can I pretend I did? The ship’s gift shop sells those dog coats, collars, leashes, etc.
- What about cats? They are allowed too. I understand you need to book two compartments in the kennel, because logically one holds the cat’s litter box. This can get expensive.
After reading this, you probably aren’t going to book your dog a berth on the QM2. However, it’s nice to know you could. It’s also nice to visit the pets sunning themselves on a nice day, especially when you are missing man’s best friend.
Story courtesy of Bryce Sanders.