What fun is a cruise if you can’t take your furriest family members along? On Cunard’s newly renovated Queen Mary 2, guests of the feline and canine persuasion are welcome aboard trans-Atlantic crossings. This ship is the only passenger vessel at sea that carries dogs and cats beyond service animals.
“We sail dogs and cats from all over the world,” says kennel master Oliver Cruz (below). (We think he should be called the chief pet-ty officer.) Like their people, pets at sea get comfy digs, exercise, and good eats, he says. “I work very hard at making sure the animals feel right at home.” Cruz will even sing a lullaby to pets needing some extra TLC at bedtime.
During its recent multimillion dollar refurbishment, the Queen Mary 2 added 12 new kennels (for a total of 24 for dogs and cats) to its expanded kennel space. Like a floating pet park, the ship has a private deck for pets and their owners to commune during the day, with an indoor play area and an outdoor walking and running space. The action happens on Deck 12, the only deck where pets are allowed. The décor features an English lamppost and an American fire hydrant imported from New York City, to help traveling pooches feel at home. Upping the cute factor: eight pieces of original pet-themed artwork (showing animals posed aboard ship and in iconic destinations), created by artist Karen Katon-Oprey, daughter of QM2 Captain Kevin Oprey. To keep Bowser and Fluffy warm and fashionable at sea, a QM2-logoed fleece coat is provided for pets to don during the trip. And of course there are freshly baked biscuits at turndown time.
Travel with pets is growing trend, but bringing animals across the Atlantic is nothing new for the Cunard line. On its maiden voyage in 1840, the Britannia sailed with a live cow to provide fresh milk for passengers. Later, the ocean liners carried thoroughbred racehorses and famous movie pooch Rin-Tin-Tin. In the 1950s, actress Elizabeth Taylor (look for her photos in a display called “Stars Aboard”) traveled with her adorable pups on the original Queen Mary. So your little bundle of fluffy joy is in good company.
Cheap it isn’t, but if you consider your pet as part of the family, maybe taking Rover on vacation isn’t so far-ahem-fetched.
Kennel prices for pets range from $800-$1,000 per sailing; $500 for the second pet in the same kennel. For information on health guidelines and size limitations, visit www.cunard.com.
Diane Bair and Pamela Wright can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.