Are There Any Pet-Friendly Cruises?

It’s becoming increasingly popular for people to travel with their dogs, so what about cruises? Are there any pet-friendly cruises? And I’m not talking mere day cruises here, but multi-night cruises, ideally with the option for some sightseeing.

Unfortunately, if you’re picturing taking a typical Mediterranean or Caribbean multi-night cruise along with your dog anytime soon, you’re out of luck. I’ve checked the rules for countless cruises, and unless you have an assistance dog, animals are strictly forbidden.

But there are a select number of cruises (or at least multi-night ferries) that allow dogs on board, whether in pet-friendly cabins or onboard kennels. Check out these pet-friendly cruise options…

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1. A Trans-Atlantic Crossing with Your Dog

Dog-friendly cruises
Set sail from New York to Southhampton with your dog on the Queen Mary 2

One of the most well-known cruises that welcomes pet dogs on board is the Queen Mary on its Trans-Atlantic crossing between New York and Southhampton in England. This crossing is also useful for people heading to Europe or the USA with their pup, but who don’t want to fly them in the hold (if they are too large to fit in the cabin).

For that reason, the kennels are amongst the fastest option to sell out on the crossings, about a year in advance. (Although a wait list does operate and sometimes last minute spaces become available.)

Onboard the Queen Mary 2 are 24 kennels, accomodating both dogs and cats. Small kennels are $800 USD for the seven-night crossing, while large kennels are $1000 USD. Cats need to reserve two kennels, one for general use and one for their litter box.

Note that pets need to remain in the kennel area; they are not permitted into public areas or your cabin. The kennel area includes an outdoor area on board the deck, a small enclosed playroom for stormy Atlantic crosses and an owner’s lounge.

Access is provided to the kennels multiple times per day. Looking at reports from people who have travelled with dogs on the ship, they tend to spend a large part of each day sitting on the chairs on this deck. There is also a full-time kennel master, who will walk your dog when you can’t, naturally!

For more information on the Queen Mary 2, check out Man in Seat 61. Alternatively, read the review on The Road Unleashed.

If taking the crossing to the UK, remember to prepare your dog for their entry into the UK. There is an extension to the validity of EU health certificates for pets travelling by boat, but check with Cunard about the policy for worming treatments.

2. A Rhine River Cruise with Your Dog

Dog friendly European river cruises
Most Rhine River cruises pass by the quaint town of St Goar

In Europe itself, one of the most popular cruising options is to take a river cruise. These cruises are available on many rivers, but a Rhine river cruise is the most iconic.

Given how dog-friendly most of the countries are that these river cruises pass through, and that a river cruise doesn’t have the same logistical issues when it comes to “doggie business” as a cruise on the open ocean, it’s a surprise that dogs aren’t welcome on more of these cruises. I have only come across one option so far.

These dog-friendly European river cruises are run by 1AVista Reisen, a German company based in Cologne. They operate multiple cruises per year for dogs and their owners aboard the MS Poseidon, in both Germany and the Netherlands. From 2020, they will also offer cruises on the Danube. The cruises are majority German-language, but the crew can provide assistance in English.

Dogs on these cruises aren’t relegated to kennels, but are permitted to stay with you in your cabin, plus join you in the dining room. Just like the fares for humans are all-inclusive, dogs also have access to unlimited dog treats, plus dog beds and bowls are provided.

On the dog-friendly cruises, a section of the sun deck is converted to a “poop” deck. It’s covered in grass and plants so that dogs can relieve themself any time of day.

For more information, check out the 1AVista Reisen website (Germany only). Or read this review from Louie Vuitton the Frenchie (complete with photos).

3. A Mini-Cruise on the Baltic with Your Dog

Cruises with pets
The Silja Symphony has dog-friendly cabins

Another pet-friendly cruise option in Europe is to take advantage of some of the pet-friendly ferry crossings, particularly ones that allow foot passengers also to take pets. Then turn the ferry trip into a mini-cruise by taking two crossings back-to-back! Many ferry companies specifically sell this as an option.

This is what I discovered when I was taking a ferry crossing on the Baltic from Stockholm to Helsinki, with Tallink Silja Line. We were just taking the ship one-way, but on board we discovered that many of the passengers were doing a two-night cruise, with a full day to explore Helsinki and two fun-filled nights on board the ship.

Tallink Silja Line offers multiple Baltic mini-cruise options. Ships sail daily from Stockholm to Helsinki, Tallinn and Riga, with the option to do a mini-cruise in either direction. To book, head to their website and click on the Roundtrip Cruise option. Often the round-trip options are cheaper than one-way prices!

Multiple dog-friendly cabins are available on each ship, in addition to kennels on some routes. I recommend getting in early and booking a dog-friendly cabin. We travelled in a B-class cabin but I recommend splurging for an A-class cabin with windows, as you’ll probably spend longer than usual in your cabin while travelling with a dog. The fee for a dog in your cabin is €32 round-trip.

Dog friendly cruises Europe
Exploring the top deck on our dog-friendly Baltic cruise

Onboard, there is a designated dog exercise area on the upper deck, with a gravel filled sandpit for dogs to do their business. If the weather is fine, it’s great to chill out on the upper deck and enjoy a drink from the bar with your pup by your side.

Pet dogs aren’t allowed inside the other bars and restaurants, indoors on the ship. However, we entered through the main promenade area with our dog, and had no issues walking him back through the area while we explored.

Find out more about this pet-friendly cruise, including the facilities for humans on board the ships and sightseeing recommendations, in my review.

4. A Short Cruise to the Netherlands with Your Dog

If you’re located in the UK, there are also dog-friendly mini-cruise options closer to home. Fancy a day or two in the Netherlands? There’s two ferry options available that can offer you a Dutch mini-cruise.

The more dog-friendly of the two options is the DFDS ferry from Newcastle to Amsterdam, thanks to their pet-friendly cabins. DFDS specifically markets a mini-cruise option, including a coach from the ferry terminal, with five hours spent in Amsterdam. If you’d prefer to spend longer, there’s also the option to add a hotel booking for a night or two.

If booking a mini-cruise, you’ll likely be travelling as a foot passenger, meaning that you’ll need to call the call centre to book a pet-friendly cabin. Be sure to book well in advance, as there are limited numbers available.

Your dog will be restricted to your cabin, as well as the nearby dog toilet area (featuring fake grass, gravel beds and a post). Unfortunately, pet dogs are not allowed on the other outdoor decks or inside the public spaces, but it is fine to leave them unattended in your cabin, as long as you trust them.

There is a charge of £25 per pet in a cabin or £30 per pet in a kennel, for each journey. Dogs are also permitted on the coach into Amsterdam, as long as they don’t sit on a seat. 

Click here to find out more about the DFDS pet-friendly cabins or read this review by someone doing the mini-cruise with their dog.

Stena Line ferry to Hook of Holland
The Stena Line ferry sails day and night to the Netherlands

The other cruise option is the Stena Line ferry from Harwich to Hook of Holland. While they don’t advertise a mini-cruise option on their website, it’s still easy to book, including the addition of a hotel for a one or two-night stay in the Netherlands. There are both overnight and day crossings available, each taking about 8 hours.

Hook of Holland is located not far away from Rotterdam, plus the beaches near The Hague. It’s also not far from Amsterdam on the quick and dog-friendly trains.

Cruises with dogs
Schnitzel in his kennel on the Stena Line ferry to Hook of Holland

Onboard the Stena Line ferries, dogs are accommodated in kennel, plus there is an adjacent pet exercise deck. However, it’s one of the more dog-friendly kennel options as you can freely visit your pet plus there’s a CCTV display of the kennel area among the TV channels. The set charge for dogs using the kennels is £17.

Read my review of travelling between London and Amsterdam with my dog on this ferry, on the overnight sailing. It’s easy to book online including your pet, click here to start a booking, then add your pet after selecting a cabin.

Considering your dog needs to stay in a kennel on the ship, if enjoying a dog-friendly cruise with the Stena Line ferry to Hook of Holland, I recommend staying at least one night in the Netherlands.

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11 thoughts on “Are There Any Pet-Friendly Cruises?”

    • Sorry, but I don’t believe any exist. There are pet friendly ferries across to the continent, and then you could either take trains (probably, the services aren’t as good the further east you go) or fly to Istanbul.

    • Greg.. pls let me know what you find. I’m still in process of finding a transatlantic to UK or Hamburg to then go to Turkey (no spaces on transatlantic ships at this time but I’m crossing fingers), but then i will be in your same situation. I’d appreciate if you could let me know your findings. Thanks. sammyjones777 @ yahoo . ca

      • What you find with the QM2 is that the kennel places go very early (12-18 months in advance), but then at the three month (90-day) point when the deposit becomes forfeit, they get a fair few cancellations. I did the TA both ways this year with my dog, and we booked 18 months ahead, but both times we met people who had got on at short notice.

  1. How about the bullet trains UK to continent, and within continental EU?
    Are dogs allowed on the bullet trains? I know that they’re not really tours because you can reach your destination in less than 24 hours, but I was just wondering. How about a tour train like the Orient express? Do they allow dogs?
    I am moving to Portugal so it’s a one-way trip but I won’t put my dog in the stowaway cabin only in the passenger cabin and it’s getting more and more difficult to do that. Even the ones that do only guarantee it until you land in Europe and then from there if you want to continue on air travel you have to put the dog in steerage. So I thought I would just get off at wherever the plane lands, and from there take trains or Rent-A-Car . I am moving there for at least a year so I’m also interested in these pet friendly European cruises and luxury train tours because I’ll be spending much of the time traveling all over Europe. Lastly, is anyone aware if the European countries have different entrance policies for dogs? I believe they do and that the UK is quite restrictive and Iceland as well (they’re both islands), but I wasn’t sure about other countries

    • Hi Patrick – You’ll find answers to a lot of your questions in different articles. Firstly, the Eurostar train doesn’t allow pet dogs onboard. The best option is to take one of the few ferries that allow foot passengers to bring pets, or use a pet taxi. Some of the overnight trains allow pets, as long as you reserve an entire berth. Check with individual companies, but Austria’s ÖBB is one that allows pets. Some European countries do have different policies. I suggest you check my article on travelling between European countries. As well as the UK, Finland, Ireland, Malta and Norway all require a worming treatment. You need to book in advance an inspection appointment on arrival in Malta. Plus, some non-EU countries may have different requirements, plus you might need a rabies titre test result to return to the EU.

  2. I am retired and am ready to move back to the UK.
    I would be taking 7 Standard Poodles. 6 are pets the other is my service dog.
    There’s absolutely no question of leaving any of them and 2 are under 6 months. What is my best strategy?


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