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Anyone experienced taking their dog in the kennels on QM2?


sammyboots
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Thank you so much for your quick reply! This is so helpful and it sounds as though you were super brave with your journey! Congrats! 
When you say the booking agent, do you mean we should employ a personal travel agent rather than Cunard direct? We love the idea of using the boat, it’s just the availability and having to plan so far in advance that we will find difficult. I’m a songwriter and may be given perhaps 3 months notice that we need to get to the states for a 3-6 month trip! Do you think based on your experience we would be able to get a waitlist place under those sorts of timelines? 
Thanks again for your knowledge and advice.

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I just mean call Cunard directly, that's what I did anyway. You'll speak to a booking agent and they're very helpful. Honestly before the virus I would have said you would be extremely unlikely to get something with that kind of time frame. Now? Who knows. Are cruise ships even operating right now? I think it might take a little bit for people to want to cruise again, so openings may be more available. It's honestly impossible to tell in this unprecedented time. Will you have a back up in terms of flying your dog? And did you mean you're moving them to the US permanently or just for a 3-6 month trip? It's also a good idea to get a handle on all the vaccinations and health checks you'll need to do, especially if you are taking them back and forth, as I definitely started getting everything together a few months before we sailed. I think it's easier bringing them into the States than the UK though. Wishing you lots of luck. 

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Hi there - I moved my 2 dogs from the UK to North America on the QM2 in May 2019. The process was actually pretty alright.

 

The only way to find out availability is to call the Kennels directly and ask. You cannot reserve kennels without first having paid a non-refundable deposit for a particular crossing. What I did was phone them to ask about availability and they told me I would be first on the waiting list for the 31st May 2019 Westbound crossing, so I booked that crossing and went on the waiting list. As I was emigrating and this was the only way I could move my animals (health issues preventing air travel) I also booked the first available kennels, meaning would have a guaranteed slot for my two dogs, for the 6th May 2020 crossing. I made these bookings in November 2018. In January 2019 I got the email that 2 kennels were available for the May 2019 crossing and being first on the waiting list they were mine if I wanted them. So I booked that, cancelled the May 2020 crossing and off I went. I did all this directly with Cunard. It cost me about 1500GBP for my two dogs to travel on top of the crossing for me and my mum (my husband was already settled in Canada so she travelled with me to help with luggage and the dogs) so keep the cost in mind.

 

I didn't know about the waiting times and whatnot when I first contacted them to book, but expect to book about a year in advance. There are only 24 kennels available, and the upper ones are only suitable for toy dogs and cats. If there are large dogs travelling, they take up 2 kennels.

 

The summer months are the busiest so your best bet for availability and moving off the waiting list is for the shoulder months - April, May, September-December etc. Let me know if you have any other questions :) My dogs are both senior (12 and 13 year old spaniels) with a variety of health issues but they handled the voyage well and actually really enjoyed it.

Sam and Tara.jpg

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9 hours ago, Musicmaker8 said:

Hi all! I wonder if you can help. We can’t find anywhere information on the Cunard website about booking pets onboard. We are hoping to find an availability calculator to see how often spots are available to transport our dog to the US. Anyone know where we might find this? 
Also, in you guys’ experience, how far in advance do you need to book the kennels? We’ve seen reports of around a year? We are looking to book us and our pet to travel to the US with a bit less notice, but really struggling to work out if this is possible. 
Thanks so much! 
 

 

You can't do it online - you have to phone (or email) the kennel admin in California and ask for availability.  Then make a booking in the normal way, then go back to kennel admin with your booking number to reserve or waitlist a kennel place.  

 

My booking experience is that you need either to book well ahead - at least twelve to eighteen months (how this will change after the virus crisis is anybody's guess) or waitlist and hope you get a place at short (either 90 day or last minute) notice.  On my previous crossings most owners had booked well ahead, but on each of them there were dog owners who had got in not long before the sailing date.  Many owners are relocating for work, and find their plans change (and some of them pre-book multiple crossings and then cancel those they don't need nearer the time), so cancellations are common.

 

The 90-day point is critical as (at least for UK passengers) it's the point at which the deposit is lost.

 

On the discussion above about tipping, the kennel staff are excluded from the ship-wide tipping pot.  Most owners tip the kennel staff separately - they really do go above and beyond - but it's at your discretion.  Talking to some of the American passengers, some of them tipped very large amounts, and guessing how much the staff are making in tips per crossing goes a long way to helping owners feel less guilty about their having to spend a week picking up your dog's often unpleasantly disturbed poop off the deck.

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9 hours ago, Sine said:

I just mean call Cunard directly, that's what I did anyway. You'll speak to a booking agent and they're very helpful. Honestly before the virus I would have said you would be extremely unlikely to get something with that kind of time frame. Now? Who knows. Are cruise ships even operating right now? I think it might take a little bit for people to want to cruise again, so openings may be more available. It's honestly impossible to tell in this unprecedented time. Will you have a back up in terms of flying your dog? And did you mean you're moving them to the US permanently or just for a 3-6 month trip? It's also a good idea to get a handle on all the vaccinations and health checks you'll need to do, especially if you are taking them back and forth, as I definitely started getting everything together a few months before we sailed. I think it's easier bringing them into the States than the UK though. Wishing you lots of luck. 

 

Actually, travelling with a return trip is the easiest, since most of the US states waive their import requirements for visits (to the state) for less than thirty days, and for EU (and UK, at least until December) passengers, the pet passport makes it quite simple - little more admin than taking the dog to France.  Permanent relocations are more complex, since both the US and EU/UK have strict requirements for importing animals, which creates a stack of paperwork.

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9 hours ago, micrarach said:

Hi there - I moved my 2 dogs from the UK to North America on the QM2 in May 2019. The process was actually pretty alright.

 

The only way to find out availability is to call the Kennels directly and ask. You cannot reserve kennels without first having paid a non-refundable deposit for a particular crossing. What I did was phone them to ask about availability and they told me I would be first on the waiting list for the 31st May 2019 Westbound crossing, so I booked that crossing and went on the waiting list. As I was emigrating and this was the only way I could move my animals (health issues preventing air travel) I also booked the first available kennels, meaning would have a guaranteed slot for my two dogs, for the 6th May 2020 crossing. I made these bookings in November 2018. In January 2019 I got the email that 2 kennels were available for the May 2019 crossing and being first on the waiting list they were mine if I wanted them. So I booked that, cancelled the May 2020 crossing and off I went. I did all this directly with Cunard. It cost me about 1500GBP for my two dogs to travel on top of the crossing for me and my mum (my husband was already settled in Canada so she travelled with me to help with luggage and the dogs) so keep the cost in mind.

 

I didn't know about the waiting times and whatnot when I first contacted them to book, but expect to book about a year in advance. There are only 24 kennels available, and the upper ones are only suitable for toy dogs and cats. If there are large dogs travelling, they take up 2 kennels.

 

The summer months are the busiest so your best bet for availability and moving off the waiting list is for the shoulder months - April, May, September-December etc. Let me know if you have any other questions 🙂 My dogs are both senior (12 and 13 year old spaniels) with a variety of health issues but they handled the voyage well and actually really enjoyed it.

Sam and Tara.jpg

The break point between upper and lower kennels is actually the dog's weight at 26 lbs (about 12 kg) - so "toy" isn't an accurate description.  The upper and lower kennels are actually the same size, in terms of width and depth, although the lower kennels have a higher ceiling (irrelevant for many dogs).  The difference is that the kennel staff may need to lift dogs up into the upper kennels (although conscientious owners are there most of the time making this unnecessary in practice) and for health and safety reasons there is a weight limit on the dogs they are expected to lift up into the penthouse enclosures.

Edited by IB2
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9 hours ago, Musicmaker8 said:

Thank you so much for your quick reply! This is so helpful and it sounds as though you were super brave with your journey! Congrats! 
When you say the booking agent, do you mean we should employ a personal travel agent rather than Cunard direct? We love the idea of using the boat, it’s just the availability and having to plan so far in advance that we will find difficult. I’m a songwriter and may be given perhaps 3 months notice that we need to get to the states for a 3-6 month trip! Do you think based on your experience we would be able to get a waitlist place under those sorts of timelines? 
Thanks again for your knowledge and advice.

If you are a US passenger then you have the luxury of refundable deposits.  If you can stand the temporary loss of the deposit money, you might consider booking more than one crossing and waitlisting for kennels for all of them.  You can then narrow down which crossing you want to take nearer the time.

 

This is what a lot of passengers do who are relocating for work reasons, since it's unusual for people to know the precise date their new UK or US job will start over a year in advance.  It's also the reason why the kennels get heavily booked early on and then get a lot of cancellations.  Sadly, like panic buying of toilet roll, the more that people hear about the need to book well ahead, the more multiple bookings there are and the worse the problems get.

 

On my two crossings, both got fully booked up more than a year ahead (in one case nearly eighteen months), both had passengers who had waitlisted for cancellations and got in at short notice, and both had one or two empty kennels where people had cancelled last minute or simply not showed.

 

The most common time to get a cancellation is the 90-day mark, as above.

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