All Aboard for Dog-Friendly Cruises!

By Annie Manning

These days we’re pampering our pooches more than ever. From luxury dog spas to canine country clubs, they’re certainly getting used to living it up. The indulgence isn’t just reserved for home, however. More and more of us are taking our four-legged friends away on vacation with us, with a Pet Travel Survey announcing that 40% of dog owners intended to take their pooches away with them last year. If that wasn’t enough to get tails wagging, 90% of those asked also admitted they’d alter their plans if it would be beneficial to their dog.

From statistics like these, it’s evident that we love Fido as much as Fido loves us. Taking your dog away on vacation with you can be an extremely rewarding experience, especially if you have a family. What’s more, with 80% of vacationers saying they worry about their dogs being in kennels while they’re away, taking them with you can be a more relaxing experience. But where in the world?

If you’ve thought about going away with your dog, you might have considered a camping vacation, or perhaps somewhere by the beach – but have you ever considered a cruise? With the demand for pet-friendly vacations growing, many hotels and resorts have adapted for pet needs, and surprisingly, so have a few well established cruise liners. Although only one pet-friendly transatlantic liner exists thus far, there are many ferries offering smaller trips for both you and your dog to enjoy – all of which are certainly worthy of a visit during your next vacation.

Cunard Cruise Line

The pinnacle of pet-friendly cruises has to be Cunard Cruises’ flagship, the Queen Mary II. On this luxurious ship of dreams, you’ll find every possible amenity to make sure both you and Fido relax in style. The transatlantic liner indulges both of you right from the get-go, with dogs receiving a complimentary gift pack as soon as the ship sets sail. The gift pack includes toys, dog treats, a Cunard bowl, a portrait of both of you, and just in case your dog forgets who he is among all the luxury – a personalized name tag.

Throughout their stay dogs (and cats!) are treated to the very best in bedding and premium pet food, while a full time kennel master is employed to look after your dog’s every whim when you’re busy relaxing. The level of care and attention is unmatched and 100% tailored to your pets needs. If for example your dog is sociable, it can be arranged for him to play with other pets, or he can shun them in favor of snooty solitude. Playtime and walks occur several times of day (though you can specify otherwise) and visiting times for humans come in blocks of two hours. While you relax, you can be sure your pet is receiving the very of best of care; they’re never left unattended, even at night. Make sure to book ahead however; there are only 12 places reserved for pets, making it something of a VIP (very important pooch) occasion.

Smaller Cruises

Many smaller pet-friendly cruises have popped up all around America, making perfect vacation outings for both you and Fido. While dog owners are generally required to clean up after their pets, any dog is allowed so long as they’re well behaved.

Northeastern Cruises

• Acadian Nature Cruises (www.acadiannaturecruises.com): Leaving from Bar Harbor in Maine, Acadian offers a two hour sightseeing cruise along the shoreline. Expect to see historical landmarks and glimpses of seals.
• Downeast Windjammer Cruises (www.downeastwindjammer.com): Offering both sightseeing and fishing trips, Downeast Windjammer Cruises, based in Cherryfield (also in Maine) operates around Belfast Bay and Bangor Harbor.
• Watermark Cruises (www.watermarkcruises.com): Based in Annapolis, Maryland, Watermark offers scenic trips around Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.
• Hy-Line Cruises (www.hylinecruises.com): Offering both Cape Cod Canal and Hyannisport Harbor cruises, their cruise boats also have a first class lounge (which dogs aren’t welcome in, unfortunately – but the rest of the ship they are).

Southwest, Southeast and South Central Cruises

• Baywatch Dolphin Tours (www.galvestonbaywatch.com): Based in Galveston Texas, Baywatch offers educational hour long dolphin spotting cruises for $10 per person. Best of all, Fido can hop aboard for free!
• Dolly Steamboat (www.dollysteamboat.com): Operating around the Apache Junction in Arizona, the Dolly Steamboat travels along Canyon Lake’s waterways. Offering both nature and astrology cruises, pooches are only allowed if they’re particularly well behaved (so no excessive barkers!).
• Potomac Riverboat Company (www.potomacriverboatco.com): Offering a fantastic pet-friendly sightseeing cruise in Alexandria, Virginia, the Potomac Riverboat Company operates every Thursday with its seasonal Canine Cruise which runs from June until September.

Midwest Cruises

• Sleeping Bear Dunes Boat Cruises (www.sleepingbeardunescruise.com): Based in Frankfurt Michigan, Sleeping Bear Dunes offers both mid-morning and gorgeous sunset cruises in the Great Lakes district. The scenic trips take two to three hours, so it’s recommended you bring waste bags in case Fido needs to use the “little dog’s room.”
• Mercury Chicago’s Skyline Cruise Line (www.mercuryskylinecruiseline.com): The comfortable  Skyline Queen welcomes all canines (even on seats) for its 90 minute trips around Chicago harbor and Lake Michigan. Water bowls are supplied for your dog as he takes in the beautiful views.

Bon voyage!

Photos (top to bottom): Miles Goodhew, Jeremy Keith, Bas Leenders, Tom Bayly

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

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