Travel with Pets by Boat

Find information on pet travel by boat, including personal boats, cruise ships, and ferries serving the U.S. and Canada

Pet Travel by Boat – Personal Boats

Pet travel by boat can be a rewarding experience for you and your pet, but make sure you’re prepared for the voyage. The following tips can help you keep your dog safe and happy while out on the water:

  1. Provide a ramp for your dog to easily get on and off the boat, or carry your pet on and off the boat. Check this review from My Pet Needs That to find a good boat ramp for your dog.
  2. Call ahead to make sure the marina or park is pet friendly.
  3. Pets should wear a proper-fitting flotation device (a life jacket) at all times to keep them safe in and around the water, even if they know how to swim.
  4. Sunscreen will prevent your pet, especially pets with light skin and short or thin hair, from getting sunburned. Ask your veterinarian to recommend a non-toxic, non-skin irritating sunscreen for pets.
  5. Provide a shaded area for your dog. Excessive exposure to the sun can cause heatstroke — a life-threatening condition caused by the elevation of a dog’s body temperature.
  6. Provide non-slip bathroom rugs to assist your pet from sliding on the wet boat and from burning their paws.
  7. Keep your pet in a carrier, or on a harness or leash to prevent them from jumping or falling overboard. Develop a plan in case your dog goes overboard.
  8. Train your dog to use a piece of astroturf, a box of sod, carpet scraps, wee-wee pads, or newspaper for elimination. For cats and other small animals that use litter boxes, make sure there is a covered litter box secured to the floor inside the boat.
  9. Keep plenty of drinking water and a pet first-ad kit available. The Humane Society of the United States recommends pet-specific supplies and useful items to include in a boating dog’s first-aid kit. Dogs can take Dramamine and other remedies for seasickness. Check with your vet.

Dog Life Jackets

Not all dogs can swim and those that can aren’t all great swimmers. Additionally, water or weather conditions can cause problems, even for a pet that is typically a strong swimmer.

Any dog can get fatigued or disoriented and older dogs, especially, can tire easily. Pets with low body fat can have trouble when exposed to water for long periods. Health issues, such as hip or joint problems, can also make swimming difficult for some pets.

While there are no regulations regarding life jackets for dogs, a life jacket can help keep your pet safe while aboard your boat or around any body of water.

Pet life jackets are designed to keep the animal afloat in a horizontal, swimming position. The pet life jacket also serves as a retrieval device, should your pet fall overboard.

Make sure the life jacket fits securely and has lifting handles to make retrieving your pet safer and easier. Also, a bright color will make it easier to spot your dog in the water.

Give your pet a chance to get used to wearing its life jacket before actually getting on a boat. Allow your pet to practice swimming while wearing its life jacket, too.

Cruise Ships

Queen Mary 2 is the only liner to regularly carry animals. Her kennels, which are staffed by a dedicated Kennel Master and can be accessed by owners, take dogs and cats in pampered comfort to and from New York. Queen Mary 2’s Kennel Programme is available on all Transatlantic Crossings between New York and Southampton in either direction, and is managed by a full-time Kennel Master who takes care of responsibilities such as feeding, walking and cleaning the ship’s 24 kennels, 12 upper and 12 lower. Two lower kennels can be opened for larger dogs or just for more space. Cats are required to be on the upper level with two kennels, one for the litter box and one for the living area. Travelling dogs and cats also receive a complimentary gift pack. The kennels and adjacent indoor and outdoor walking areas are open throughout the day, enabling guests to spend significant time with their pets. Reservations for the kennels may be made at time of booking, and are based on availability. Cunard recommends that passengers book their passage as far in advance as possible. How To Travel With Pets Aboard The Queen Mary 2 Kennels

Pet Friendly Ferries

One of the key reasons that pet travel by boat, particularly ferry boats, remain a popular transportation option for passengers is the freedom and flexibility that ferry travel offers. Not only do many of the ships have fantastic onboard facilities – from dedicated children’s areas to cafes, restaurants and even cinemas, swimming pools and comfortable, en-suite cabins on the longer crossings – you also have the freedom to take your pets, your whole family and as much luggage as you can fit in your vehicle with you.

Ferries Serving the U.S.

Ferries Serving the U.S. and Canada