Pets On Deck: Cruising The High Seas

There’s been a lot in the news of late about Delta Airlines literally tightening the leash on service dog requirements. In my post, “Comfort Animals Take To the Not So Friendly Skies,” I discussed the issue of “Fake Comfort Animals,” where pet owners sought to skirt paying full fare by claiming their furry friends were legitimate comfort dogs. But what about cruises? Are dogs allowed to cruise the high seas either as passengers or comfort dogs?

Queen Mary 2 goes to the Dogs

Some ferries and harbor tour boats allow dogs, but Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 is currently the only ocean liner, which sells passage to canine cruisers. In fact, their ‘Pets on Deck’ program treats them royally on their transatlantic crossings between New York City and Southhampton, England.

Their packages for dogs [and cats] are inclusive of a QM2-logoed cap, Frisbees, name tags, food dishes, toys and even their tasty and healthy gourmet cookies presented at turndown in the evening. Pet owners and their pets also receive a complimentary portrait and a crossing certificate.

During the day, a dog’s master is permitted to visit their pets, and a kennel master supervises the dogs during off-hours.

The indoor/outdoor areas dedicated to the cruising pets features an historic English Lamppost from Liverpool and a New York fire hydrant. All other public areas are off-limits to pets.

These vacation packages currently range from $800 to $1,000, depending on the dog’s size. Passenger rates, per person double-occupancy, cost from $599 one way or $999 back-to-back for an inside cabin [port charges and taxes are extra -- and seasonal rates may apply.] A Queens Grill cabin (the highest category) run approximately $6,000 per person, double, each way.

Service Animals Servicing Cruises

Certain cruise lines do allow companion or emotional support animals. Erik Elvejord, director of public relations for Holland America Line noted that, in addition to dogs they permit all sorts of animals, including birds and ferrets. However their guidelines restrict this permission to ’non-pets only,’ which are certified by veterinarians as bonafide ‘service animals.’

Crystal Cruises' definition is a bit more definitive. It stipulates animal companions need to attend to “physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or other mental disability.” Costa Cruises and Princess Cruises allow emotional support dogs with proper documentation. Carnival Cruises allows “legally defined and trained to meet a disability-related need.” Service dogs in training and dogs under 4 months old are not permitted.