Can Pets Travel by Sea?

Can Pets Travel by Sea?

Pet travel by sea has been around for centuries. However, due to speed of travel and biosecurity concerns, travel by sea is not always the first option. Nonetheless, for some pet owners, sea travel could be the best or even their only option. 

Pets can travel by sea. There are different modes of transport including ferries, cruise ships, dedicated pet ships, and yachts. Each destination has its own rules when receiving pets from another country or continent. 

Since pet travel by ship isn’t very common, not many people know the ins and outs of sea travel for their pets. This article is your basic guideline on how you can arrange your next pet travel when crossing seas.

How Do You Move Pets Across the Ocean?

Can Pets Travel by Sea?

The means of travelling across the ocean with pets depends on your location and destination, available means, plus the type and size of the pet. 

For shorter journeys lasting less than one day, your pet might have to be in a carrier full time. For longer travels, ships provide space for owners and pet managers to walk the pets and allow them some play time. 

Take a look at some pet travel options depending on the route of travel.


Traveling with pets from the US to the UK? Then you have only one over-the-sea option. Cunard Cruise Line’s Queen Mary 2 is an ocean liner that travels between New York, USA, and Southampton, UK. 

Queen Mary 2 offers pet owners superb pet accommodations on Deck 12, separate from the human accommodations. No pet can travel unaccompanied and the owners are allowed daily visits and play time. 

Additionally, there is an owners’ lounge for pet owners. The Queen Mary 2 has a separate pet management area where pets can play, walk, and exercise. The newest ships on the cruise line offer a luxurious kitty area where cats can relax far from the dogs. 

The trip costs from $800 per pet, going upwards of $1,000 for larger animals. There are only 15 kennels per boat and they are in high demand. Booking usually happens about a year in advance. 

Once you’ve booked and paid, the cruise line emails you with schedules and information on the required documents. They also follow up to ensure you’ve done your documentation before cruise time. 

US – Canada

There are many ferry and cruise lines ready to take you and your pet across the US-Canadian ocean divide. Most of the ferry and cruise boat operators offer pet-friendly accommodations and services and also participate in pet travel schemes. 

While some ferry services require all pets to stay inside the owner’s cars or be carried in a carrier, some services allow pets on deck. For instance, the Black Ball Ferry Line Which operates between Victoria, British Columbia, and Port Angeles, Washington allows pets on all outer decks, in the solarium, and within the mid-ship lounge. Other popular destinations include:

  • Bar Harbor, Maine
  • Yarmouth, Nova Scotia
  • Portland, Maine

UK – Europe

There are numerous ferry services between the British Isles and mainland Europe. Most of the ferry services and cruise boats across the English Channel accept pets, mainly cats and dogs. 

The ferries run day and night and can go as far as the Scandinavian countries. Depending on your starting point, there are routes to take you directly to your destination port in various European countries. 

Some of the most popular pet-friendly cruise ship and ferry services across the channel include:

  • Brittany Ferries: To Spain and France
  • Wightlink
  • Irish Ferries
  • P&O (Netherlands, France, and Belgium)
  • DFDS Seaways (Netherlands, France)
  • Condor (Channel Islands, France) 

Private Yacht

Can Pets Travel by Sea?

A private yacht offers many advantages. You don’t have to stick to a commercial route or port and any restrictions about where your pet can roam are made by you. You can cross any seas you want and can afford. 

However, each port of entry will have restrictions about the authorized entry of your pet. You will require different customs, import/export, veterinary, and medical records for each port of entry in every country. This includes your return to your home country. 

You may also have to microchip your pet as most countries demand. Parasite treatment forms and rabies tests may be administered at some ports. Countries like Australia may demand that your pet goes into a 10-day quarantine upon landing. 

If your pet remains in the ship while you go inland, you may not be asked about paperwork for the pet. However, you may also not be allowed to dock on the off-chance that the pet may escape and find its way ashore. 

Can Pets Travel by Ship?

Yes, pets can travel by ship. However, some animals such as dogs are commonly afflicted by seasickness when aboard a boat or ship. Seasickness is most common in young puppies. However, older dogs also require some conditioning before they get used to the boat’s motion on water. 

Dogs can also become nauseous and anxious on a moving vessel if they’re not used to riding on ships and boats. The unusual stimuli can be overwhelming and in severe cases may cause dog vertigo. The anxiety and stress can also lead to vomiting and diarrhea. Some signs of sea sickness in dogs include:

  • Pacing while whining
  • Drooling and smacking of lips with head down
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy and refusal to move
  • Disobedience and disorientation

The best way to condition your dog against sea sickness is to take a few shorter trips for orientation before the long trip. Also, feed the pet at least 4 hours before the cruise begins. Exercise on the day of the trip also helps the dog recover faster from motion sickness.

Is It Stressful for Pets to Travel by Ship?

Pets can feel stressed when in any new environment. Especially when separated from the owner. 

You can act to ease the pet’s stress by training and conditioning. Take a few short trips for the pet to get used to: 

  • Strange environments.
  • Boat engine and water sounds.
  • Sea motion.
  • Time away from its human family.
  • Time in a crate or carrier next to other crated pets.

Gui Hadlich

Hey there, I'm Gui! These are my 2 good pals Ozzy and Luna. I've gone through the headache of figuring out what to do when either traveling with them or leaving them behind, and I know it can be a pain. I created Pets Travel Guide to make your life a bit easier when you love your pet but also love to travel!

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