Can I Bring my Pet on a Cruise?

For many people, their pet is the most important thing in their life. Pets offer companionship that can be found nowhere else and many people consider them not pets, but family members. No wonder many people take their pets seemingly everywhere from the grocery store to even traveling with them.

Dog on a beach
Can you bring your dog or cat (or other animal) on a cruise? The answer is almost always no, except in the case of service animals.

As well, it can be expensive and burdensome to kennel a pet or having someone else check on them while you’re away.

Of course, that means many people wonder if you can bring their pets along when they take a cruise. The idea of traveling the world while also getting to enjoy it alongside their furry friend is appealing to many.

So can you bring your pet on a cruise?

No, Pets Aren’t Allowed on Cruises

In fact, no, you cannot bring your pet along with you for a cruise. All the major cruise lines have rules against doing this.

For instance, Carnival’s website says that “we are sorry but pets are not permitted on board.” Further, “only qualified service dogs trained to perform a specific task for a guest with a disability are allowed.”

Royal Caribbean states clearly for passengers to “please note we do not accept pets.”

Norwegian Cruise Line says that they accept “service dogs that are trained to perform a specific task.” They do explicitly say that the line “does NOT accept “Emotional Support” dogs as service dogs, they CANNOT sail.”

Possible Reasons Against Pets on a Cruise

Why can’t you bring a pet with you when you cruise?

Animals bring a lot of baggage with them when they are on a ship, and we’re not talking about suitcases. For one, bringing animals on crowded cruise ships can cause issues when it comes to behavior. No one wants to have a dog accidentally bite another guest on the ship or for two animals brought by passengers to fight or break loose of their leash.

Then there is the fact that some passengers may be allergic or simply not care to share space with an animal — especially in spots like restaurants.

Logistical issues are also a problem. For example, what if a passenger leaves an animal in a cabin while they go into port? Who will feed the dog or cat and take them to the bathroom? Further, animals aren’t allowed ashore in foreign ports without substantial paperwork beforehand.

And imagine a situation where passengers are kept awake during the night by a dog that won’t stop barking or an animal that severely damages a stateroom.

In the end, the headaches that would come from a ship full of pets would far overwhelm the potential benefits of allowing animals onboard. It only makes sense that they aren’t allowed.

Are Service Animals Allowed? What About ‘Emotional Support’ Animals?

While pets aren’t allowed on a cruise ship, service animals are something completely different. Those are welcomed by the lines.

Note that “service animal” is an animal that’s trained to meet a disability need, such as help guiding someone with limited vision or other tasks. Cruise lines specifically go out of their way to say that “emotional support” pets are not allowed on the ship.

If you do have a service dog, then there will be a number of steps you’ll need to take to sail with the animal.

Typically this involves providing proof of vaccination records and taking the steps to get the needed approval of the visited countries in order to allow the dog off the ship in port. Otherwise the animal won’t be able to leave the ship.

Passengers bringing service animals are also responsible for their care. Normally cruise ships provide a place for the animal to use the bathroom, but not much else. Food is your responsibility to bring onboard and you are also responsible for all care and feeding. Crew can’t care for the animal, and the service animal also can’t be left unattended.

If you have a service animal and want to cruise, you should reach out the cruise line directly to get all the details of what you need to know before you sail. We’ve included starting points for some major lines below:

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