Modern day Cunard traditions still permit pets aboard the QM2. Credit: Cunard

What to expect from a Cunard Queen Mary 2 transatlantic cruise... with your dog

Author: Rebecca Deurlein

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Can't bear to part with your pooch? Cunard's Queen Mary 2 understands and caters for all your pet needs! Here's what you and your furry friend can expect onboard.

I love my dog and I’m not ashamed to admit it. So imagine my consternation when I realized that dog-friendly cruises have yet to catch on among the cruise lines, save one.

Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 is the only cruise line to date that permits dogs and cats (sorry reptile, pot-bellied pig, and hedgehog lovers, your time hasn’t quite arrived) to travel on their transatlantic sail between New York and Southampton.

This is a huge selling point and a perfect solution for travellers who can’t imagine going weeks without seeing their pets.

Cunard has welcomed pets for – get ready – 180 years, so they know what they are doing when it comes to making dogs and cats happy.

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The QM2 Kennel Master has played host to famous dogs and their owners, including Elizabeth Taylor’s pup, three aristocrat champion Afghan hounds, and even the most expensive dog on record, a chow who enjoyed a special diet of raw eggs.

Luckily, you don’t have to be rich or famous to share a cruise with your pet.

So what can you expect from this dog-friendly cruise ship? For starters you should know that your pets will be housed in deluxe kennels in a designated area of the ship, so they will not be roaming the decks with you.

- READ MORE: Can you take a dog on a cruise? Guide to dog cruise holidays -

This is a courtesy to other passengers and ensures they will not be bothered by barking, shedding, and other nuisances we ignore because we love our dogs.

But no worries! The pet accommodations provide for just as much pampering as you will receive on the QM2. Only 24 kennels are available, the top 12 smaller in size to accommodate cats and small dogs, and the lower 12 housing bigger dogs and litter boxes for the cats perched above.

This means each pet gets a lot of attention on top of their regular feedings, including exercise and play time, especially important since there are no ports of call, so no chances to disembark on the transatlantic voyage.

Queen Mary 2 is the world's last ocean liner. Credit: Shutterstock

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Aside from the private kennels presided over by the white-gloved Kennel Master, the QM2 has a designated outdoor walking deck for dogs and an indoor play area where they can mix and mingle with their canine friends.

Pets are further pampered through the "Pets on Deck" program, which Cunard describes as “a range of pet-friendly services and amenities such as fresh-baked biscuits at turn-down, a choice of beds and blankets, and even a coat with a QM2 logo.

As part of the enhanced program, travelling dogs and cats also receive a complimentary gift pack featuring a frisbee, name tag, food dish and scoop, a complimentary portrait with pet owners, a crossing certificate and a personalized cruise card.”

- READ MORE: Cunard Queen Mary 2: What it's like on the world's only ocean liner -

Speaking of pet owners, you are free to visit and lounge with your pets at any of several scheduled times offered throughout the day.

When you do, you’ll smile at the touches Cunard adds to honour both the U.S. and the UK – both a New York fire hydrant and a British lamppost where dogs can relieve themselves in the style to which they’ve become accustomed.

And over there in that trunk? Why those are specially made life jackets for pets of various sizes.

Pets are further pampered through the "Pets on Deck" program. Credit: Cunard

So how do you book a spot for Spot? It is advisable to do so as soon as you know you’re interested in sailing. The QM2 carries 2691 passengers, and at least 90 percent of their kennels are in use at any time, so the competition for kennel space is real.

You may reserve a kennel up to two years in advance, but if you are more of a last-minute planner, all hope is not lost. Many cruisers reserve a kennel in anticipation of a sail they never take, so be sure to get on the waitlist if nothing is available when you book.

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Expect to pay £600-£800 to house your precious pet cargo. All of that deluxe treatment doesn’t come cheaply, but the peace of mind is priceless.

Just knowing your pet is one deck away is a huge comfort, and being able to see and interact with your best friend during your sail is well worth the cost of travel.

While sailing across the Atlantic, have peace of mind knowing your pooch is right on board with you! Credit: Shutterstock

When you’re ready to book your cruise, be sure to check the kennel availability first by calling the cruise line. You will need to book your own accommodations, then arrange for a kennel once you are confirmed, so you need to move quickly to secure both.

You will be asked to provide information about your dog, so be prepared before you make the call. Make sure you have the numbers on your dog’s length, height, and weight (in inches and pounds), along with breed and age.

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Ahead of sailing, you will be expected to produce documentation for your dog or cat. The Eastbound sail to Southampton requires that each dog be microchipped, show a recent rabies shot, be up to date on Heartworm treatments, and have a letter of good health from a veterinarian.

Westbound into New York, your pet must have a current health certificate and proof of rabies vaccination.

Your four-legged friend will thank you for all that effort, and you’ll enjoy your cruise all the more knowing that your pet is travelling with you in style.

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