Can I bring Fido along on my cruise? Dogs and cruising…

dog on cruise

No animal I know of can consistently be more of a friend or companion than a dog. – Stanely Leinwall

Dogs on a Cruise Ship

On my last cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas I was surprised to see two passengers holding little fluffy dogs.  That got me thinking.  For what reason did these people have dogs on board with Royal Caribbean’s knowledge, and how do you care for a dog on board?  I’m pretty sure that you can’t just walk them through Central Park to do their business.  So, what do you do, hold them out over the ship’s railing?  And what if you want to go ashore and the dog isn’t allowed.  You couldn’t just leave the dog in your cabin alone.

So, I’m going to try and learn more about this to share with you.  And be sure to do your own research to know exactly when you have to notify the cruise line, which documents you need to have, and then have the required paperwork with you at all times.  If you plan on taking your dog off the ship at ports, check out the regulations at the port you are sailing to so that you can see what documentation you need, and if that port even allows dogs to disembark the ship.

Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean does welcome service dogs on all of their ships in the US. On sailings to the UK service dogs are only permitted on Independence of the Seas and have to meet strict Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) requirements.  They define a service dog as “any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability”.  Other pets are not allowed on the ship.

Evidence that the dog is a service animal is requested but not required.  Not all ports will allow a service animal to come ashore, so someone has to be able to stay with the dog at all times.  The dog cannot be left in the stateroom unattended.  Check out Royal Caribbean’s policy here.


Carnival has a similar policy.  They do allow working service dogs on board which are trained to meet disability-related needs.  Dogs that are considered pets are not permitted, and emotional support dogs are not permitted.  See Carnival’s policy here.


MSC allows suitable trained and certified guide dogs.  The guest will be responsible for the feeding and general care of the dog during the cruise.  The dog must possess all necessary documents for entering the foreign countries visited during the cruise.  There is a form that should be filled out informing them of the animal prior to the cruise.  Find it here.


Norwegian accepts service dogs that are trained to perform a specific task.  They do not accept emotional support dogs as service dogs.  Vaccination records are required, and a sand box will be provided.  See here for more info.


Trained service dogs are also welcome on Disney Cruise Lines.  All service animals must remain on a leash and under your control at all times.  You will be responsible for the care and feeding of the animal.  Crew members cannot help.  Check out the policy here.

Holland America

Check out page 6 of this document to see Holland America’s service animal policy. You will need to contact their Access & Compliance Department ahead of time and provide health certificate documentation.


Princess Cruises welcome service animals.  Emotional support animals are not permitted on Princess vessels.  They have removed this from their website, but since Princess is owned by Carnival it’s probably very similar.  


Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 has a kennel, so cats and dogs are welcome, but pets must remain in the kennels or in the adjacent exercise area and there is a charge for the kennel.  Service animals are welcome also, with the same regulations as the rest of the cruise lines.  Check with the cruise line to be sure.

Service and Emotional Support animals

So, there you have it. Basically, service animals are permitted.  Most of the ships will provide a sand box for them to use as a restroom.  Dogs are not normally permitted in the pool areas.  Crew members are not permitted to watch your pet for you, and you are not permitted to leave them alone in the cabin. You need to bring dishes for them and food. They will provide some sort of little box on board.

Not all ports will allow you to bring your dog with you, and there may be special paperwork needed, so check before you go.  If you have an emotional support service animal, check with the ship to see if they will allow it.  Not all of the cruise lines do.  If you have a service dog, and you do take it on board, please be considerate of others.  A staff member should be informed immediately if your dog has an accident somewhere, so that the area can be thoroughly cleaned. Don’t just walk away and leave it.  And I hope that Fido enjoys his cruise as much as I will!

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