There’s a wide variety of ferries that you can take between the UK and Europe, from short 90 minute crossings to one or two night voyages. There’s also a wide variety in the facilities onboard ferries for when you’re travelling with pets.
While some ferries only offer the option of leaving your pet in your vehicle, some ferries have pet-friendly cabins onboard. Find out about the different pet-friendly cabins on ferries between the UK and Continental Europe.
Pet-Friendly Cabins on Ferries to Spain
One of the easiest ways to travel from the UK to Spain with your dog is onboard the dog-friendly ferries to Spain operated by Brittany Ferries, at least if you are travelling with a motor vehicle. There are three dog-friendly ferry routes between the south of England and the north of Spain.
However, the journey is quite long, so it’s best if you can book one of the pet-friendly cabins onboard the ferries. Make sure you book early for one of these pet-friendly cabins on Brittany Ferries to Spain!
Brittany Ferries from Portsmouth to Bilbao
Brittany Ferries operates two crossings departing from Portsmouth in southern England, firstly to Bilbao. This ferry operates twice a week, with two nights spent onboard when departing England and one night on the return voyage from Spain. Note that the ferry doesn’t operate after the start of November each winter.
During 2023, the Galicia will operate this route. The Galicia has 22 pet-friendly cabins on board, a mixture of inside and outside cabins on deck 7. There is also a pet exercise area just outside the cabins.
Note that generally only a single pet is allowed in each cabin. Contact Brittany Ferries if you have more than one pet. In addition to the cabin fee, a fee of £45 applies per pet in each direction.
Pets are not allowed in the public areas of the ship – only in your cabin and the pet exercise area. Your pet will need to wear a muzzle when being walked from your vehicle to your cabin, plus when using the pet exercise area. Foot passengers are not permitted to bring pets onboard, even with a pet-friendly cabin booked.
Brittany Ferries from Portsmouth to Santander
The second Brittany Ferries route departing from Portsmouth is to Santander, the capital of the Cantabria region in northern Spain. This ferry also operates twice a week, with the night-time departure from England including two nights onboard, while a single night is spent onboard the return trip.
During 2023, the Santoña will operate this route. This brand new ship only launched in 2023 and details of its facilities are not listed on the Brittany Ferries website. It is likely that it will offer similar facilities to the Galicia (see above), with a similar number of pet-friendly cabins and a pet exercise area.
Note that only a single pet is usually permitted in each cabin, plus foot passengers are not permitted to bring pets onboard. An additional fee of £45 applies per pet, in addition to the fee for the pet-friendly cabin.
Brittany Ferries from Plymouth to Santander
Brittany Ferries also operates a shorter ferry crossing to Spain, in between the ports of Plymouth and Santander. This ferry also operates twice a week, with only a single night spent at sea in each direction.
During 2023, the Pont-Aven will operate this route. The Pont-Aven has 28 pet-friendly cabins, a mixture of inside and outside cabins on deck 6. There is also a pet exercise area just outside the cabins. Pets are not allowed in the public areas of the ship and a muzzle is required when your pet is outside the cabin.
By default, only a single pet is allowed in each cabin. Contact Brittany Ferries if you have more than one pet. The cost for taking either a pet cat or dog with Brittany ferries is £45 in each direction. Foot passengers cannot take onboard pets.
Pet-Friendly Cabins on Ferries to France
There’s a long list of ferries that operate between the UK and France, operated by five different ferry companies. Currently, out of the 13 dog-friendly ferry routes between England and France, only three offer pet-friendly cabins onboard, each operated by Brittany Ferries. However, note that only some crossings have pet-friendly cabins, depending on the ship.
Unfortunately, there are no dog-friendly cabins on the Brittany Ferries route operating to St Malo – there are only kennels onboard plus the option to leave your pet in your vehicle.
Brittany Ferries from Portsmouth to Caen
There are either two or three Brittany Ferries that cross from Portsmouth to Caen each day, up until early November. It’s a popular route thanks to the proximity of Caen to Paris.
Both daytime and nighttime crossings are offered, with the daytime crossing taking about 5 hours 45 minutes, while the nighttime crossings take seven hours. About half of the crossings are operated by the Normandie, a mixture of both day and night crossings.
The Normandie has onboard 12 pet-friendly cabins. Each of the pet-friendly cabins are outside cabins on deck 5. There is also a pet exercise area on deck 9, that can be reached using a lift. Pets are not permitted in the other areas onboard the ship.
Generally only a single pet is permitted in each cabin, plus foot passengers cannot bring onboard pets. An additional fee of £29 applies per pet in each direction, in addition to the cabin fee.
Note that the other ship that operates on this route, the Mont St Michel, doesn’t have any pet-friendly cabins or kennels – the only option is to leave your pet in your vehicle, including on the overnight crossings.
Brittany Ferries from Portsmouth to Cherbourg
There are also at least two crossings per week from Portsmouth to the northern French port of Cherbourg up until early November, plus some additional high-speed crossings during the peak summer months.
If wanting to book a pet-friendly cabin on this route, make a booking for the regular crossings, not the high speed crossings on the Liberation, which not surprisingly has no cabins at all. The regular crossings take about eight hours, with an overnight voyage departing Portsmouth, then the return ferry departing Cherbourg in the middle of the day.
Regular crossings take place on the Galicia and Santoña, ships that also operate on the Spanish routes of Brittany Ferries. The Galicia has 22 pet-friendly cabins, a mixture of inside and outside cabins on deck 7, plus a pet exercise area outside.
The Santoña is a new ship that only launched in 2023. While there are no exact details provided on the Brittany Ferries website, I believe it has the same number of pet-friendly cabins and kennels.
Note that only a single pet is allowed in cabins by default, and foot passengers cannot bring pets onboard. Muzzles are required in the pet exercise area and when walking your pet to your cabin. A fee of £29 is charged per pet in each direction
Brittany Ferries from Plymouth to Roscoff
The final ferry route from England to France operated by Brittany Ferries that offers pet-friendly cabins is in between Plymouth and Roscoff, in western Brittany. About six sailings take place between these two cities each week, a mixture of day and night sailings. Daytime sailings generally take around 5 1/2 hours, while the longer nighttime crossings take up to 11 hours.
While the majority of sailings take place on the Armorique, which has no pet-friendly cabins or kennels, there are also some sailings on the Pont-Aven. Onboard the Pont-Aven are 28 pet-friendly cabins, a mixture of inside and outside cabins on deck 6, along with a pet exercise area outside.
An additional fee of £29 applies for pets travelling on this route, in addition to the fee for your cabin. Note that access to the kennels are not provided on these crossings between England and France. As usual, foot passengers cannot bring onboard pets, plus generally only a single pet is permitted per cabin.
Pet-Friendly Cabins on Ferries to the Netherlands
There are also three pet-friendly ferries that operate between the UK and the Netherlands. Unlike the other crossings, each of these ferries now offers pet-friendly cabins onboard. There is also the option for foot passengers to bring along pets – a handy option if you don’t want to take your vehicle with you to Europe.
Stena Line from Harwich to Hook of Holland
One of the most popular routes for travelling from England to Europe with your dog, especially on foot, is on the Stena Line ferries from Harwich to Hook of Holland. There are two daily sailings in each direction, including a shorter 6 hour 30 minutes daytime crossing, plus a longer overnight crossing.
Recently, pet-friendly cabins were introduced onboard the Stena Line ferries on this route. You can choose between two-berth inside or outside cabins, or larger five-berth cabins with a window. The number of pets permitted in each cabin depends on their size – up to three small pets under 15kg, or two medium-sized dogs under 30kg, or a single large dog over 30kg.
There is no additional fee for pets staying in a Stena Line pet-friendly cabin, although the cabins themselves are more expensive. There is also the option to book a kennel, or leave your pet in your vehicle. Read my review of travelling with my dog in one of their kennels, prior to the pet-friendly cabins were introduced.
A pet exercise area is available outside the kennels, presumably also accessible to pets in the pet-friendly cabins. Be warned that it’s just a bare deck, so my dog wasn’t too impressed. Pets are not allowed in the restaurants, bars and shops onboard.
It’s possible to book pet-friendly cabins online, including if you are travelling on foot. Simply select a pet-friendly cabin at the cabin step, then add your pet to your booking at the next step. Recently, a limit of three pets per foot passenger has been imposed (or five pets per vehicle).
DFDS Seaways from Newcastle to Amsterdam
If you’re travelling from northern England or Scotland, a more convenient option is the DFDS Seaways ferry from Newcastle to Amsterdam. A single overnight voyage takes place in each direction daily, taking about 16 hours 45 minutes.
Each of the ships on the route offers pet-friendly cabins. These four-berth sea-view cabins can accommodate up to two medium-sized dogs. Pets can also access designated sections of the outside deck – just visit Guest Services to obtain a pass to access these dog-friendly outdoor areas.
Foot passengers are also permitted to take pets onboard, including booking pet-friendly cabins. However, they are not able to book online – instead call the contact centre at the number listed on the DFDS Seaways website. A charge of £30 applies per pet, whether travelling in a cabin or kennel.
P&O Ferries from Hull to Rotterdam
The final ferry option between England and Europe that offers pet-friendly cabins onboard are P&O Ferries from Hull to Rotterdam. This ferry service also connects northern England with the Netherlands. The crossing takes about 11 hours, generally operating overnight.
Recently, three pet-friendly cabins have been added on each ferry. Each cabin is a two-berth ensuite cabin with a window, although with a restricted view. Each cabin can accommodate up to two small pets or a single medium or large dog.
The pet-friendly cabins are located on deck 7, close to the kennels and pet exercise area. There is also a pet exercise area at both the Hull and Rotterdam Ferry Terminals, for some last minute exercise before boarding the ferry.
There is an additional fee of £22 pet pet, regardless of whether your pet travels in a cabin or kennel. Pet-friendly cabins also cost more than standard cabins. It’s easy to add a pet to an online booking, for those travelling with or without a car, plus select a pet-friendly cabin if available.
Tips for Booking a Pet-Friendly Cabin
If looking to book a pet-friendly cabin onboard a ferry from the UK to Europe, be aware that they book out very quickly – usually quicker than any other option! Make sure you book your ferry well in advance, to have a chance at booking a pet-friendly cabin.
Because of the popularity of the pet-friendly cabins (and kennels) on their crossings, Brittany Ferries supplies a handy listing of their availability on upcoming crossings on this page.
Note that if travelling with Brittany Ferries, generally they only operate their crossings up to early November, with no crossings during most of November and December. Generally this doesn’t happen on the other crossings, but always check in advance.
Double check what you need to take onboard for your pet. Generally you should take a bed and bowls for your pet, plus their food depending on the duration of the voyage. Make sure you take along bags to clean up, although generally these are supplied at pet exercise areas, which you pet may or may not deign to use.
If travelling with Brittany Ferries, note that a muzzle is required for all dogs. A muzzle needs to be used when transferring your dog from your car to your cabin (or the kennels), plus when visiting the pet exercise areas. I have heard reports this is enforced. No muzzles are required by Stena Line, DFDS Seaways and P&O Ferries.