Dog-Friendly Cruises: 14 Ways You Can Cruise With Your Pet

Ingenious ways to make your next cruise a tail-wagging adventure.

Pier before sailing to travel
Updated May 28, 2024
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Many dog owners consider their pup a part of the family and want to take them on vacation.

While many hotels now encourage guests to bring their dogs and may even offer fun puppy perks, cruises are a different story.

Finding a cruise that lets you bring your pooch is much more difficult. But if you want to step up your travel game, here are 15 ways to set sail with your dog.

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Register your pup as a service animal

Home-stock/Adobe cute pembroke welsh corgi dog

Though most major cruise lines don’t allow pets on board, they make exceptions for service animals.

Royal Caribbean says service dogs are allowed on their ships and will even provide relief areas to accommodate them.

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Cruise the Queen Mary 2

Parilov/Adobe dog in cage

Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 is one of the only major cruise lines that encourages pet owners to cruise with their pups (or cats) — they even have kennels on board.

This ship has many options for transatlantic cruises and is sure to keep you and your furry friend entertained.

Get a job onboard

Ian/Adobe appropriate props and attire

There are stories about those who work on cruise ships being able to bring their pets on board, but before going this route, it’s important to look into employee policies.

Because many cruises travel between countries, even employees bringing their pets along could become a little dicey.

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Take a regional ferry

Kirill Gorlov/Adobe travel sea tourism with pets

Many regional ferries around Europe allow pets on board. For example, GNV sails around Italy and nearby countries and welcomes customers to bring their pets.

Pets can go in the customer’s accommodations, and they also have “pet cabins” on certain ferries.

Take a Baltic mini cruise

Petra Richli/Adobe puppy lying while looking sideways

Another option in Europe is a company called DFDS. Pets are welcome on board, and they have many fascinating options — including their Baltic sea cruises.

There are three route options, and passengers can book pet-friendly cabins or choose to put their dog in a kennel.

Take a Dutch mini cruise

annaav/Adobe get ready for a trip

DFDS also offers a Dutch mini cruise where passengers are welcome to book a pet-friendly cabin.

The mini cruise is just two days long — but as this one travels between Newcastle and Amsterdam, there will be plenty for you and your pup to do and see on the short trip.

Opt for a canal cruise

zivko.trikic/Adobe saluting friends during the cruising

A popular option, particularly in Europe, is to take a canal cruise.

While this isn’t a multi-night all-inclusive vacation, it’s a great way to take your pup out on the water — especially after a stuffy flight if you traveled to Europe by plane.

Opt for a river cruise

Emile/Adobe crossing maas river

There are many river cruises around the world that allow dogs on board.

In fact, there are many in the U.S. that you can find quite easily by doing a bit of online digging (more on our favorites later).

Build your dog’s online following

Javier brosch/Adobe dog selfie wellness spa

It’s no secret that celebrities get special perks, and these days, many Instagram and TikTok pups have become celebrities in their own right.

If you can build up a solid following for your pup on social media, you both may just land an invitation to a cruise or ferry in exchange for some free publicity.

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Take an NYC ferry trip

kerkezz/Adobe dog traveling on the ferry

Another shorter option is a trip from New York City to the Jersey Shore (or vice versa).

Seastreak ferries take passengers from E. 35th St. in the city down to Atlantic Highlands in New Jersey, where they can catch a quick cab to the beach.

Dogs are welcome on board but must remain on the outside deck unless they are in a carrier.

Take a canine cruise

Markus Schröder/Adobe female walking with a dog

There are boat rides made specifically for people who want to get out on the water with their dogs, and while they may not be the multi-night getaway you’re dreaming of, they can be fun.

One of our favorites is Chicago’s Canine Cruise, where dogs and their owners can hop on board and sail around the Chicago River and Lake Michigan for 90 minutes.

Take a short ice cream cruise

Alice/Adobe cute charming photo with pets

Again, this isn’t a multi-night cruise option, but it has other perks, namely, it’s pet-friendly and has ice cream.

Seattle’s Ice Cream Cruise takes passengers on a quick tour around Lake Union.

Though you may not want to share the ice cream with your dog, there are other snacks on board, too.

Become a captain cat and a dog sleeping

This one may require a bit too much commitment, but cruise captains tend to get special privileges.

A famous example is Celebrity Cruise Captain Kate McCue, who takes her cat on every voyage. The pair have become quite famous on Instagram for their unique lifestyle.

Enjoy Puppies on the Piazza

belyaaa/Adobe alaskan malamute and husky dogs

If you still can’t find a way to bring your dog but still want to hang out with some pups while cruising, Princess Cruises offers a puppy program for their Alaska cruises.

Guests can meet, pet, and snuggle puppies who are training to become sled dogs.

Bottom line

sofiko14/Adobe enjoying bonding interaction on sunny

Currently, cruise ship options for pets are limited. However, exploring cities with pet-friendly ferries, canal cruises, or river trips can be a viable alternative.

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Author Details

Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore

Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore is a seasoned freelance writer who also teaches writing courses at Rutgers University. She's based in Jersey City and enjoys travel, live music and, of course, spending quality time with her pup.