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About sight seeing dogs on cruise ships

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A dog getting on a cruise ship attracts a fair amount of attention from fellow cruisers both for the unexpectedness and rarity of the occasion. On most cruise ships the only dogs allowed are trained service dogs, hard at work. Cunard is the only line that allows pets, and then only on transatlantic sailings – the animals staying in shipboard kennels.

So no, Fido can't come along and hang out in your cabin. But if he's a service dog or traveling with you transatlantic, here are the details.

Cruise lines outline their special rules regarding service dogs on their websites. The dogs stay with the passenger throughout the cruise. Ships have special lifejackets for the animals (though supplies may be limited), and passengers are required to make sure all vaccinations and paperwork are up to date, including for all destinations visited.

A couple of years ago Princess Cruises showed its service dog-friendliness by hosting a group of 25 new graduates from Guide Dogs for the Blind and their owners onboard the Sea Princess for a day.

Princess provides amenities for service dogs, including bowls of water in the dining room and relieving boxes with cedar chips, plus reserved seating in the Princess Theater for passengers with service dogs. During a cruise, passengers and crew are also invited to meet the dogs during a designated playtime.

Royal Caribbean, as another example, provides four-square-foot relief areas with cypress mulch to accommodate service dogs, and on sailings from the U.S. may also be able to provide sod if ordered in advance.

The ships are not required to provide food or care for the dog. Passengers are advised to give a ship at least 60 days notice if they plan to bring a working dog onboard.

In regard to transatlantic cruises, passengers heading from New York to Southampton, UK or visa versa, on the Queen Mary 2 can bring along a pet, for a fee of several hundred dollars. But your pooch stays in a kennel, not in your cabin (service animals being an exception). The dog's vaccines have to meet the requirements of the UK's Pets Travel Scheme (PETS).

A full-time Kennel Master is in charge of shipboard facilities, which include 12 spacious spaces for dogs and cats and outdoor walking areas (with ocean views, no less). Passengers can spend time with their pet in the restricted areas.

Pampering for your pooch includes a complimentary gift pack (with such treats as a QM2 logo coat, a name tag, a Frisbee and even a special "crossing" certificate) and such amenities as homemade biscuits and a choice of bedding. Food is provided, but guests can choose to bring their own.

Cunard kennel reservations need to be made at the same time as human booking, and are based on availability.

By Fran Golden, Special to USA Today

For more cruise news & articles go to http://www.cruisecrazies.com/index.html

Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more


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One thing people have to consider, are the rules of the countries they are making port stops in. My father is blind and his guide dog goes everywhere with him -- usually Dad and his dog come with my son and I to Walt Disney World, where he rides all the rides with us (except for roller coasters, of course) and has a great time.

But that's Florida and the ADA laws cover the U.S. completely. With cruising, you have to check the laws and regulations for every port that you're going to be visiting -- For some, the laws will be very similar to ours and you'll only need the international health certificate from your vet, some will require different vaccinations than the dog might normally have, and some will not let you bring the dog ashore at all. Something else to keep in mind is loose/wild dogs in the ports -- not in the immediate port areas themselves, but if you decide to go exploring outside that perimeter.

One last thing you have to be prepared for is people. Some don't understand why one person can bring a "pet" onboard and they can't bring theirs (even when the "pet" is in a harness and obviously guiding their owner) and some are afraid of dogs to the point where they should probably not ever leave their homes in the first place. My dad's dog is a big sweetheart of a yellow lab -- I saw one lady vault over three rows of seats on an Amtrak train when my dad boarded with his dog, just to get away from him. You'd have thought he was walking a rabid cougar down the aisle.

I've heard that the cruise lines are great with service animals, though -- extremely accommodating and welcoming. Just do your homework and then re-check it! :smile:


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This story reminds me of our recent sailing on the Jewel. There was a woman carrying a small dog onboard with her. We saw this woman with the dog throughout the cruise. The woman didn't seem to have any disabilities and the dog was not wearing and indecia identifying it as a "Guide Dog" or anything like that. My wife did over hear the woman tell another passenger that she brought the dog along as "treatment" for severe "emotional distress" and it was prescribed and approved by Royal Caribbean. Never heard of anything like THAT before!!!!

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