Pet friendly ferries in 2023 are an appealing alternative to flying with cats, dogs or ferrets, and in some cases, they’re the most viable option. In many scenarios, the only ‘choice’ for pet owners is to fly their cat or dog in the aircraft hold, either due to local laws, or because their pet is too large to fly in the cabin. Cue the pet friendly ferry, which allows pets and their owners to sail together, without the worry of being separated between an aircraft passenger cabin and hold. Not only that, but pet friendly ferries in 2023 are cheaper than flying your cat or dog in the hold as checked baggage, and seriously more cost effective than flying them as cargo! So, if a pet holiday is on the horizon or you’re relocating with your cat, dog or ferret, you may just find a pet friendly ferry to be the most convenient transport method. Read on for international pet friendly ferry policies in 2023, including routes, prices, pet friendly cabins, and kennels for the UK, France, Spain, Morocco, USA and beyond!
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Pet Friendly Ferry Routes 2023
There’s plenty of choice when it comes to pet friendly ferry routes, whether you’re sailing from England to Spain, or Florida to the Bahamas! Year round pet friendly ferries are available in global destinations such as:
- Channel Islands
- Northern Ireland
- For pet friendly ferries from the UK, you’ll discover crossings to EU destinations such as France, Spain and Holland.
One of the most popular year round pet sailings is between Portsmouth, England, and Santander in Spain – be aware that, in particular the Brittany Ferries pet friendly cabins are often fully booked a year or two in advance.
- Within the EU, there’s crossings available with FRS Ferries for pets and their owners between Spain or France and Morocco, as well as with Balearia Ferries between continental Europe and the Canary Islands, or Balearic Islands.
- If you’re in the USA, pet friendly Balearia Caribbean ferry routes are available between Florida and the Bahamas.
Pet Friendly Cabins, Kennels & Vehicles
The types of cat and dog accommodation available depends on not just the ferry operator, but also the route you will be sailing, and the ship that is being used for your crossing.
When you sail with your furry companion, note that there’s a few different ways to make the journey. Sometimes, you have a choice when the ferry operator allows pets to be transported in a few different ways. In all cases, pets have to be in a type of ‘accommodation’, as even foot passengers must travel with their pet in a kennel or travel carrier.
In general, when sailing on a pet friendly ferry, there are three main definitions in the method of transport:
- In Vehicle
- In an onboard Cat or Dog Kennel
- In a Pet Friendly Cabin
Companies have fleets of vessels which they use for specific crossings, and each ship is adorned with different amenities. This means that while a ferry operator has space for pet kennels on one ship, they may not have this functionality on other vessels. So you will find that even a company like Brittany Ferries that offers all of the above options, these aren’t available on every ship and route.
Pets in Vehicles
If you would rather keep your cat or dog in your vehicle for the duration of the crossing, rather than a pet friendly cabin or onboard kennel, then they must remain in your car at all times.
You must ensure that you open your car windows to provide ventilation during sailing, and leave water for your pet. The garage decks may be warm when you first park, but once the ship has set sail, the temperature is carefully regulated and inspected regularly. It’s worth taking along some window grilles so that your pet has a flow of fresh air, while being unable to escape.
A maximum of five pets are allowed per vehicle in the UK and EU, but it’s important to make sure each animal has plenty of space for safety and comfort. Multiple pets will create extra heat in the vehicle and this should be taken into account before making your journey. During times of high temperatures please reconsider transporting pets in cars on a ferry that have difficulty in maintaining a normal body temperature in hot weather. This includes brachycephalic breeds of cats and dogs, such as Boxers, French Bulldogs, Lhasa Apso, Persian and Burmese cats.
Pets in Kennels
Kennels, and catteries, are usually available in two or three different sizes to ensure your cat or dog has lots of space. So, be certain to select the correct kennel for your pet!
Found on deck or in the garage, these purpose built areas provide a safe place for your pet to make the crossing. Pet kennels and catteries are protected from weather conditions, and are properly ventilated.
Often, pet friendly ferry policies provide water and bowls in the kennels, but you must provide your pet’s food. Some ships even have on board surveillance so you can spy on your pet during the crossing!
Pet Friendly Cabins
The ever popular pet friendly ferry cabin is on the rise. In fact, this year, companies including Brittany Ferries and Balearia Ferries increased their fleet, and were sure to include pet friendly cabins in their new additions.
While the type of accommodation varies across ferry operators, most pet friendly cabins are designed to comfortably accommodate a single pet. For the duration of the crossing, your cat or dog can stay in the private room with you.
Most pet-friendly cabins have the following features:
Pets in Public Areas
Across the board, you’ll find that pets aren’t usually allowed in public areas aboard the ship. That is, of course, except registered Assistance & Service Dogs.
Visiting your Pet
You’ll be happy to know that you can usually visit your pet if they’re sailing in your vehicle or an onboard kennel. The ferry operator will inform you of the pet visiting hours applicable for your crossing. All visits to pets are accompanied by a crew member.
Usually, you can’t see your furry pal within the first and last hour of the crossing. And, if there’s adverse weather, it’s unlikely any visits will be permitted.
Em-barking & Disem-barking
Another general rule across many pet friendly ferries is that all dogs must be muzzled and on a lead when boarding and alighting the ship. Your dog must be under your control at all times, and not cause any disruption to other passengers.
Pets, other than dogs, such as cats, ferrets or birds must be in a secure travel carrier at all times, including when embarking and disembarking the ferry.
In order to alleviate stress to pets caused by crowds and noise, the majority of ferries require travellers with animals to board and disembark the ship last.
Foot Passengers with Pets
Fancy a stress-free holiday with your cat or dog that doesn’t involve getting behind the wheel? Well, one of the most in-demand ways of sailing with cats or dogs is, unfortunately, not very widely available. Most ferry operators require those travelling internationally with a pet to have a vehicle. So, this poses a conundrum for folk who want to give driving a miss, or are travelling to a country that drives on the opposite side of the road. Who wants to be worrying about the difference between left and right on their hols?!
But, there are a couple of foot passenger destinations available, although it’s limited between the UK and EU to DFDS Seaways routes between Newhaven and Dieppe, and Newcastle and Amsterdam.
Pet Friendly Cruises 2023
If you’re pining for a pet adventure by sea, that’s a bit longer than a couple of hours, then the Cunard Queen Mary 2 is the world’s only pet friendly cruise. The Queen Mary 2 offers animal friendly sailings between New York, USA and Southampton, England. Other than that, there’s lots of pet friendly ferries available, but you will have to disem-bark at the end of the short crossing!
Rules for Cats & Dogs on Ferries
Each ferry company defines their own policies for sailing cats, dogs and other pets. It’s important to familiarse yourself with your chosen ferry operator’s regulations.
In general, most pet friendly ferries don’t permit pet cats, dogs or other animals to be:
- taken out of the car
- on the deck
- in a passenger cabin
- in passenger lounges
Sailing with an Assistance or Service Dog
Professionally trained and registered Assistance & Service Dogs can freely access passenger facilities at no additional cost. They must remain at your side for the duration of the crossing, and usually have to wear an identifying leash and harness, unless being restrained would interfere with their work.
Size and weight restrictions don’t apply to Assistance & Service Dogs.
Normally, you must indicate that you’re travelling with an Assistance or Service Dog by contacting the pet friendly ferry operator at least 72 hours prior to departure.
Booking a Pet Friendly Ferry
It’s always advisable to book your chosen pet friendly ferry route several months in advance. In fact, many pet owners book a year or two ahead, due to the high demand for pet spaces onboard each ship.
For example, pet friendly cabins from the UK to France and Spain are very popular. The limited spaces available tend to fill up very quickly so book your cat, dog or ferret friendly ferry between the UK, France, Spain and Holland in plenty of time to avoid disappointment.
At the moment, there are no pet friendly ferry routes between Scotland and mainland Europe, but hopefully this will change in the near future. Of course, we will add any new routes as they become available.
Pet Friendly Ferry Policies 2023
The pet travel policies 2023 for the following cat and dog friendly ferries offer various options and routes:
- Baleària Caribbean
- Balearia Ferries
- Brittany Ferries
- Condor Ferries
- FRS Ferries
- Irish Ferries
- P & O Ferries
- Stena Line
For transatlantic pet friendly ships, the Cunard Queen Mary 2 cruise is the one and only option:
Remember to ensure you have the correct documentation for travelling with your pet to:
And don’t forget the two golden rules for pet travel:
- Protect your cat or dog when travelling to a foreign country
- Leave a review once you’ve sailed with your furry friend!