It’s becoming increasingly popular for people to travel with their dogs, so what about cruises? Are there any pet-friendly cruises now? And I’m not talking mere day cruises here, but multi-night cruises, ideally with the option for some sightseeing.
Find out more about whether dogs are allowed on cruises, plus a few pet-friendly cruise options to consider.
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Can Pet Dogs Go on Cruises?
Unfortunately, if you’re picturing taking a typical Mediterranean or Caribbean multi-night cruise operated by major cruise lines, or cruises to Indonesia, 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 on nearly all cruises.
There are probably two main reasons for this. Firstly, there are the additional pet amenities required by dogs, plus the likelihood of mishaps in a ship environment. If your dog insists on doing their business on grass, you’re out of luck on a cruise ship. Additionally, there probably hasn’t yet been enough demand, with cruises being very popular without being pet-friendly.
However, there are a few options available if you’d like to cruise with your dog. There are a small number of overnight cruises (or at least multi-night ferries) that allow dogs on board, whether in pet-friendly cabins or in an onboard kennel. Check out these pet-friendly cruise options…
Cross the Atlantic with Your Dog on the Queen Mary 2
This crossing is also useful for pet owners 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).
Onboard the Queen Mary 2
While pets are not allowed in your cabin onboard the Queen Mary II, there are 24 kennels on the ship, accommodating both dogs and cats. Cats need to reserve two kennels, one for general use and one for their litter box.
Pets need to remain in the kennel area; they are not permitted into the other public areas of the ship. The kennel area on Deck 12 (spot it on the deck plans) includes an outdoor area, 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!
Booking a Kennel
The kennels on the Queen Mary 2 are amongst the fastest option to sell out on the Transatlantic voyages, generally at least a year in advance, thanks to their popularity as a way to cross the Atlantic for those with larger dogs that can’t fit in the cabin.
However, a wait list does operate and sometimes last minute spaces become available. It’s worthwhile putting your name down and seeing if a spot comes up.
As of 2021, small kennels were $800 USD for the seven-night crossing, while large kennels were $1000 USD. Contact Cunard directly to find out the latest prices.
Take a European River Cruise with Your Dog
In Europe itself, one of the most popular cruising options is to take a river cruise. These cruises are available on many rivers, including the Rhine, Danube and Moselle Rivers.
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 dog-friendly river cruise so far.
Dog-Friendly River Cruises with 1AVista Reisen
The only dog-friendly European river cruises I have come across 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 Normandie and MS Junker Jörg. There are multiple itineraries in Germany and the Netherlands, with each cruise generally lasting seven or eight days. The cruises are majority German-language, but the crew can provide assistance in English.
Onboard the River Cruises
Dogs on these cruises aren’t relegated to kennels, but are permitted to stay with you in your cabin. Generally only one dog with a maximum shoulder height of 50cm is permitted per booked cabin, but you can also request permission to bring along two smaller dogs, with a maximum shoulder height of 30cm each.
On the dog-friendly cruises, a section of the sun deck is converted to a “dog meadow”, covered in grass and plants so that dogs can relieve themselves any time of day. There’s plenty of walks each day, plus a dog trainer on board.
Enjoy a Baltic Mini-Cruise with Your Dog
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.
Baltic Mini-Cruises with Tallink Silja Line
Tallink Silja Line offers multiple Baltic mini-cruise options. Ships sail regularly from Stockholm to Helsinki and Tallinn, with the option to do a mini-cruise in either direction. To book, head to their website and search for cruises on your preferred departure date and route, then on the next page selected the “Day In Cruise” option.
Onboard the Tallink Silja Ships
Tallink Silja Line operates multiple cruise ships on these routes, each with multiple dog-friendly cabins, in addition to kennels on some routes. I recommend booking early to make sure you can book a dog-friendly cabin. (Scroll to the bottom and expand “Traveling with Pets” to view these cabins.)
We travelled in a B-class cabin but I recommend splurging for an A-class cabin with windows if available, as you’ll probably spend longer than usual in your cabin while travelling with a dog. (Cheaper C-class cabins are also available.) The pet-friendly cabins are slightly more expensive than regular cabins, plus there is a fee of €32 per dog for the round-trip.
Onboard, on our ship there was 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 open-air Promenade bar with your pup by your side.
Pet dogs aren’t allowed inside the other bars and restaurants, located 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.
Take 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, both with dog-friendly cabins available.
DFDS Mini-Cruise from Newcastle to Amsterdam
DFDS specifically markets a mini-cruise option for their ferry from Newcastle to Amsterdam. The mini-cruise includes a coach from the ferry terminal, with five hours spent in dog-friendly Amsterdam. If you’d prefer to spend longer, there’s also the option to add a hotel booking for a night or two.
Onboard they have multiple pet-friendly cabins. Up to two medium-sized dogs are allowed in each cabin, which accommodates four humans in bunk beds. There are also kennels available on board – these were previously only available to those bringing a vehicle onboard, but DFDS now states they can be used by foot passengers.
To book a pet-friendly cabin or kennel as a foot passenger (without a vehicle), you’ll need to call the call centre. Be sure to book well in advance, as there are limited numbers available. There is a charge of £30 per pet each way (likely charged twice for the mini-cruise).
Your dog will be restricted to your cabin (or kennel), 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.
Dogs are permitted on the coach into Amsterdam, as long as they don’t sit on a seat.
DIY Stena Line Cruise from Harwich to Hook of Holland
The other possible cruise option from England to the Netherlands 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. Overnight cruises are either 8hr or 9 1/2 hr in duration, with the day cruises starting from 6 1/2 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 in the Netherlands.
Recently Stena Lina has added a variety of pet-friendly cabins to this route. Choose between two-berth inside and outside cabins, both with bunk beds. There are also five-berth cabins that can accommodate up to four adults and one child, with a window.
These cabins can accommodate up to three small pets, up to 15kg each, two medium-size dogs up to 30kg, or one larger dog over 30kg. There are no additional fees for pets, but the cabins are marginally more expensive. Pets are only permitted inside the cabin, plus the nearby designated pet area out on deck.
If the pet-friendly cabins are already booked out, there is also the option of booking a kennel for your pet. We used these kennels when previously on the ferry and found them more pet-friendly than most. It was possible to freely visit the kennels and there was a CCTV display of the kennel area among the TV channels. The set charge for dogs using the kennels is £21 per trip.
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. You can select a pet-friendly cabin online, plus add details of your pet at the next step, whether they will travel in your cabin or in a kennel.
You May Also Like
- Dog-Friendly Baltic Cruise
- Stena Line Ferry with a Dog: Harwich to Hook of Holland
- Dog-Friendly Boat Cruises in Australia
About the Author
Shandos Cleaver is the founder of Travelnuity: Dog-Friendly Travel. She has travelled extensively with her Miniature Dachshund, Schnitzel, including to 33 countries across Europe, every state and territory of Australia except Tasmania, and 10 of the United States. She’s passionate about providing inspiration and information to others wanting to travel with their dogs, whether close to home or internationally.
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