Dog Friendly Ferry Crossing Tips

ferry tips for dogs

My ideal ferry ride has always been running around the open deck, snoozing in the passenger lounge and walking on board with my own four feet. However that is basically not the case when it comes to ferry travel for us dogs.


Most ferries in Europe and the USA/Canada allow us dogs to travel, however most require you to either be below deck in your owner’s car or have your owner book you a kennel on board. Now I am not knocking it, and it is not a bad way to travel especially when the other option is that you could get stuck staying at home.

 Did you know you can even cross the Atlantic in style on the Queen Mary 2, which offers a kennel service on

Queen Mary 2

Queen Mary 2

board and is available on all crossings between New York and Southampton in either direction. The kennel is overseen by a full-time Kennel Master who takes care of responsibilities such as feeding, walking and cleaning the spacious kennels.

Remember each cruise and ferry line has different rules regarding the method of transporting pets aboard the ship.

Here are some general tips for smooth sailing

  • In order to be able to make your journey as easy as possible you should check with the ferry service that you are thinking of booking and check the rules for that company.
  • Usually you will need to inform the ferry company at the time of booking if you will be travelling with your dog. Especially if you are going to book a kennel with a ferry company that lets you walk on with your dog.
  • Best time to book travel on a ferry is after my morning walk.
  • While travelling in Europe most if not all ferries comply with the Pet Travel Scheme. So get your passport and Chip, you’re a travelling dog now.
  •  A certificate of good health may be required indicating that your dog is healthy enough for travel, is free of diseases communicable to humans and has been properly vaccinated.
  • In many cases, your destination will be another country on the ferry or cruise line, and it will be necessary that you have the proper documents to enter that country with your dog.
  • Remember that most ferries do not allow us dogs in the passenger areas (with the exception of certified sensing dogs)
  • Most ferries charge a small fee for dogs to travel, regardless if you’re in your owner’s car.
  • Some ferry companies only accept dogs with foot passengers with a RSPCA approved carrier. The carrier is usually left in a designated area on the car deck for the duration of the journey. Always purchase your dog carrier well in advance of your trip so that the dog can get used to it.
  • Please remember to leave your dog with water within the car and leave the window slightly open to give your dog a comfy journey.
  • If you are allowed by the ferry company, visit your dog during the journey.


The Pride of Burgundy, a P&O Ferries passenger...

P & O Ferries

My personal experience on the P & O Ferry line from Dover to Calais was pretty straight forward. We needed to check in at least an hour before our ferry departed, pay a small fee for being in the car as a dog passenger.  I snoozed for the entire trip and was really happy to see my owners at the end of the trip and was ready to see Paris.

Tip: An advantage of travelling with your dog on P & O is that they put you in a designated lane to board the ship first, so that you are one of the first cars out on the other side!

I also travel quiet freely on the ferries here in Switzerland.  In fact I can walk on, sit in the passenger lounge and stretch out on the deck and enjoy the sea breeze, now that is the way to travel. Just like the trains in Switzerland, I am charged a ½ price 2nd class ticket, regardless if I travel first class.

When I was in Hong Kong, I was able to travel by ferry to Kowloon and to the islands without a problem, including a junk to Lamma. I usually sat under my owner’s seat and was never charged. The only rule that I encountered was most of the Hong Kong ferries require you to be muzzled; however I have never had it enforced.  

Happy Cruising!