Pet-friendly travel is more commonplace than ever, so much so that one major cruise line and several smaller companies allow passengers to bring well-behaved pets on cruise excursions. At time of publication, the companies require that all pets must have a current license, up-to-date vaccinations and remain leashed while cruising. In addition, according to a 2005 court ruling, all cruise lines must comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act, which allows trained service animals to accompany owners with various disabilities.
Cunard Cruise Line
On transatlantic voyages aboard Cunard Cruise Line’s (cunard.com) “Queen Mary II,” both cats and dogs are allowed to travel with their owners. An on-board kennel master is in charge of pets’ regular feedings, walks, indoor playtime and clean-up. Upon arrival to the ship, pets receive complimentary goodie bags that include name tags, food dishes and toys. Pets are supplied with beds, blankets, gourmet food, snacks and either individual playtime or group playtime. Owners may visit pets throughout the day in two-hour blocks of time. Cunard recommends that passengers book their passage as far in advance as possible, as Cunard Cruise Line allows only 12 pets per voyage.
Four companies in the northeastern United States offer sightseeing and nature cruises where pets can accompany owners. Acadian Nature Cruises (acadiannaturecruises.com) operates out of Bar Harbor, Maine, offering two-hour scenic cruises along the shoreline. Sights include historic mansions, the Egg Rock Lighthouse and wildlife such as porpoises, seals and eagles. Downeast Windjammer Cruises (downeastwindjammer.com), in Cherryfield, Maine, offers sightseeing cruises and fishing excursions on Belfast Bay and around Bangor Harbor. All cruises are dog-friendly, and the company’s own four-legged mascot, Maggie, sails on every voyage. Watermark Cruises (watermarkcruises.com) in Annapolis, Maryland, provides 45-minute, pet-friendly cruises around Baltimore’s inner harbor and Chesapeake Bay Lighthouse. Hy-Line Cruises (hylinecruises.com) allows pets on Cape Cod Canal and Hyannisport Harbor cruises. No pets are allowed in the first-class lounge or on furniture.
Southwest/South Central Cruises
BayWatch Dolphin Tours (galvestonbaywatch.com) in Galveston, Texas, offers hour-long sightseeing cruises on the Galveston Harbor. Pets are welcome on every dolphin cruise and private charter, and they always ride free. Dolly Steamboat (dollysteamboat.com) operates out of Apache Junction, Arizona, cruising along Canyon Lake’s waterways and the Apache Trail. Pets are allowed on both nature and astronomy cruises, but only if they are potty trained, non-aggressive and do not bark.
Potomac Riverboat Company (potomacriverboatco.com) has a seasonal Canine Cruise that operates every Thursday, from June to September. Cruises depart from the Alexandria, Virginia, marina aboard the “Admiral Tilp.” Dogs ride free on the 40-minute tour of the Alexandria Harbor. St. Augustine Scenic Cruises (scenic-cruise.com) welcomes well-behaved pets and departs daily throughout the year from the Municipal Marina. Sights on this cruise include the St. Augustine Lighthouse, Fountain of Youth, Bridge of Lions and Castillo of San Marcos.
The Great Lakes region offers several scenic cruises, but only two are pet-friendly. Sleeping Bear Dunes Boat Cruises (sleepingbeardunescruise.com), operates out of Frankfort, Michigan, offering two- to three-hour, mid-morning and sunset cruises. Leashed pets are allowed on both cruises; owners are responsible for cleanup. Sights include Frankfort Harbor and Point Betsie lighthouses, and on-shore wildlife such as black bear, cougars, bald eagles and white-tailed deer. Mercury Chicago’s Skyline Cruise Line (mercuryskylinecruiseline.com) offers 90-minute Canine cruises around the Chicago Harbor, Lake Michigan and neighboring waterways aboard the “Skyline Queen.” Dogs are allowed on all seats and boat decks. Newspaper and water bowls are supplied for pets.