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Cruising With A Service Dog....everything You Ever Wanted To Know!


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Diane, so glad you had a successful cruise after 2 years - so sorry to hear that M class is not as accessible as it should be. We next sail on X in April on Constellation, the only M class I’ve been on, mainly because it’s out of Tampa an hour away. It was the first ship I took my dog on, and not very dog-friendly, as I recall.

 

First though we have two on Holland America - just a 5 day on the brand new Rotterdam VII from Ft. Lauderdale to the Bahamas departing a week from today!  Very excited to be packing. Then in January, our long-postponed Hawaii cruise from San Diego. 

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1 hour ago, Caribbean Chris said:

Diane, so glad you had a successful cruise after 2 years - so sorry to hear that M class is not as accessible as it should be. We next sail on X in April on Constellation, the only M class I’ve been on, mainly because it’s out of Tampa an hour away. It was the first ship I took my dog on, and not very dog-friendly, as I recall.

 

First though we have two on Holland America - just a 5 day on the brand new Rotterdam VII from Ft. Lauderdale to the Bahamas departing a week from today!  Very excited to be packing. Then in January, our long-postponed Hawaii cruise from San Diego. 

 

Chris, I'm so glad that you are finally getting to go on your anniversary cruise to Hawaii. Our California Coastal was out of San Diego - its an easy port with the airport and hotels so close by.

 

New ships have come such a long way with accessibility. Enjoy the Bahamas!

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Fresh off the Carnival Dream today!  I have to say we had a few bumps but Carnival did an outstanding job of making sure MinJee was as comfortable as possible.  We left on Saturday evening (delayed departure) and didn't hit land until Tuesday morning.  My worries about MinJee adjusting to the relief box were warranted as she did not adjust easily, even with the mulch over the pellets.  She refused to potty at all for the first 24 hrs we were on board.  Just when she was finally getting used to the box, we hit land 3 days in a row and any progress she'd made was kind of lost.  😞  We finally got a medium relief box to use on our balcony while the large relief box remained on deck 4.  The last couple of sea days back to Galveston was a mix of using the box on the balcony to pee and using the box on 4 to pee, however she preferred to poop directly on the deck next to the box, than in the box.  🤦‍♀️  Needless to say we cleaned up right away and disposed of the waste in the receptacle by the box. 

Aside from the potty issues, I'd like to think she enjoyed the cruise and it made a world of difference to my daughter to have her right by her side during the cruise.  Everyone (passengers and staff) loved having her around, even if she was a little timid and would shy away from people, as she's not used to being around so many people and noises at the same time.  We will definitely be taking her on another cruise, hopefully within the next few months, but will be working harder on box training before we go.  

There was one other service dog on board, a tiny long haired chihuahua that was a diabetic alert dog, whose handler offered lots of helpful tips on trying to get MinJee to be more consistent with her relief box.  🙂  Overall, I'd say MinJee's first cruise was a success and we look forward to many more cruises with her.  🐕‍🦺

Edited by KrystinasMom
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12 hours ago, KrystinasMom said:

Fresh off the Carnival Dream today!  I have to say we had a few bumps but Carnival did an outstanding job of making sure MinJee was as comfortable as possible.  We left on Saturday evening (delayed departure) and didn't hit land until Tuesday morning.  My worries about MinJee adjusting to the relief box were warranted as she did not adjust easily, even with the mulch over the pellets.  She refused to potty at all for the first 24 hrs we were on board.  Just when she was finally getting used to the box, we hit land 3 days in a row and any progress she'd made was kind of lost.  😞  We finally got a medium relief box to use on our balcony while the large relief box remained on deck 4.  The last couple of sea days back to Galveston was a mix of using the box on the balcony to pee and using the box on 4 to pee, however she preferred to poop directly on the deck next to the box, than in the box.  🤦‍♀️  Needless to say we cleaned up right away and disposed of the waste in the receptacle by the box. 

 

That's great that you enjoyed your cruise. It's good to get the first cruise under your belt - it gets easier every time!

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Just wanted to say thank you to @Caribbean Chris for your recommendation with bahamaspetpermit.com! I've done the permit in the past by myself, but was having issues getting in touch with the Bahamas and Wellington took all the stress away.

 

We leave next Thursday on the Disney Fantasy & can't wait to wait to be cruising again. This will be Bentley's 4th cruise and he loves cruising as much as I do!

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5 hours ago, mmarq1992 said:

Just wanted to say thank you to @Caribbean Chris for your recommendation with bahamaspetpermit.com! I've done the permit in the past by myself, but was having issues getting in touch with the Bahamas and Wellington took all the stress away.

 

We leave next Thursday on the Disney Fantasy & can't wait to wait to be cruising again. This will be Bentley's 4th cruise and he loves cruising as much as I do!

Aww, please post a pic, if you can of Bentley with any of the characters!  Disney was our very first cruise when daughter was 3 yrs old.  She would love to do Disney again (she's 20 now) with her SD but unfortunately my husband does not love all things Disney and won't pay for one!  😫

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18 hours ago, KrystinasMom said:

Aww, please post a pic, if you can of Bentley with any of the characters!  Disney was our very first cruise when daughter was 3 yrs old.  She would love to do Disney again (she's 20 now) with her SD but unfortunately my husband does not love all things Disney and won't pay for one!  😫


This is from a past cruise!577FE078-5130-4BBD-9B7D-CDF3319970A3.thumb.jpeg.0593fc07b1d57ebf4df9cc93f3f05952.jpeg

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On 11/3/2021 at 2:20 PM, mmarq1992 said:

Just wanted to say thank you to @Caribbean Chris for your recommendation with bahamaspetpermit.com! I've done the permit in the past by myself, but was having issues getting in touch with the Bahamas and Wellington took all the stress away.


You’re welcome! I’ve used him twice now and it was so simple and well worth the cost. I’m really glad you were happy, too.

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Those of you who didn’t use the third party service for the Bahamas pet permit, how long did it take to get a response after faxing the stuff? We leave 12/10 and I faxed everything over on Friday but I’m super nervous 😬😅.
 

i suppose if it becomes crunch time I could reach out to that guy for help? I think his website says he only needs two weeks notice?

 

also random but are we supposed to bring a life jacket for my SD?

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3 hours ago, Disneynerdcruising said:

Those of you who didn’t use the third party service for the Bahamas pet permit, how long did it take to get a response after faxing the stuff? We leave 12/10 and I faxed everything over on Friday but I’m super nervous 😬😅.
 

i suppose if it becomes crunch time I could reach out to that guy for help? I think his website says he only needs two weeks notice?

 

also random but are we supposed to bring a life jacket for my SD?

I haven't done this since 2018, but it took about a week for them to fax the permit back to me (and you have to be able to receive a legal size (8 1/2" by 14") fax or the bottom of the permit will be cut off). The next time we go to the Bahamas I will definitely be using the third party service; I would not do it on my own again.

 

I bring a life jacket for my Service Dog - the ship will not have any life jackets that will fit a dog.

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2 hours ago, DUTRAVEL said:

I haven't done this since 2018, but it took about a week for them to fax the permit back to me (and you have to be able to receive a legal size (8 1/2" by 14") fax or the bottom of the permit will be cut off). The next time we go to the Bahamas I will definitely be using the third party service; I would not do it on my own again.

 

I bring a life jacket for my Service Dog - the ship will not have any life jackets that will fit a dog.

Thank you! I have a life jacket for her so I’ll make sure to bring it. I gave my work fax to them which is an efax so it should be ok for it to not be a normal size paper and then I’ll just make sure I print it on bigger paper. Hopefully it’s true to that timeline or quicker and if I don’t have it by the week after that I’ll probably panic and reach out to the other person as a plan B 😅

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I agree, the ships sometimes (rarely) produce a dog life jacket but the one they had a couple of years ago remind me of a Halloween costume with lady-bug wings. Cute but not functional. I bring my dog’s Ruffwear life jacket which fits her and has a sturdy handle on the back. It is bulky but doesn’t weigh much in luggage.

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We disembark tomorrow from the 5-day Bahamas cruise on the beautiful Rotterdam VII and everything has gone very well. Raylene has the honor of being the first dog to sail on her.
 

The ship provided a sturdy square aluminum box full of fresh sod with a “service animal relief station” label, a foot-operated trash can, a Purel  dispenser stand, and stack of seasickness paper bags. It was located on Promenade Deck 3 on the port side forward in a covered public deck area. Ray look to it immediately, always a relief. 
 

I pre-requested a table by a wall in Club Orange (a small private dining room you can arrange for the cruise by booking a Neptune suite or by paying for a reasonable package fee prior to sailing, which we did). The staff there was outstanding and reserved the ideal table for the whole cruise.

 

We asked our steward for a stack of five pool towels after embarking and covered the (white!) sofa completely so Ray could sleep and lounge there without shedding her black fur on it. 
 

The ship has good accessibility features including automatic paired doors out to the promenade deck, midship, with a functional ramp. The doors are the traditional, heavy, antique-style varnished wood Holland America always has - so it’s a nice touch to see them slide open, just like glass & chrome.

 

 

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7 hours ago, Caribbean Chris said:

We disembark tomorrow from the 5-day Bahamas cruise on the beautiful Rotterdam VII and everything has gone very well. Raylene has the honor of being the first dog to sail on her.
 

The ship provided a sturdy square aluminum box full of fresh sod with a “service animal relief station” label, a foot-operated trash can, a Purel  dispenser stand, and stack of seasickness paper bags. It was located on Promenade Deck 3 on the port side forward in a covered public deck area. Ray look to it immediately, always a relief. 
 

I pre-requested a table by a wall in Club Orange (a small private dining room you can arrange for the cruise by booking a Neptune suite or by paying for a reasonable package fee prior to sailing, which we did). The staff there was outstanding and reserved the ideal table for the whole cruise.

 

We asked our steward for a stack of five pool towels after embarking and covered the (white!) sofa completely so Ray could sleep and lounge there without shedding her black fur on it. 
 

The ship has good accessibility features including automatic paired doors out to the promenade deck, midship, with a functional ramp. The doors are the traditional, heavy, antique-style varnished wood Holland America always has - so it’s a nice touch to see them slide open, just like glass & chrome.

 

That looks like a great set up Chris. Much better than our recent Millennium cruise - tiny 2x2 box and no automatic doors. Impossible for a wheelchair user to get to. We did get those issues addressed, but its tiring to have to deal with relief box issues on the first day of every cruise.

 

Was this the cruise with a port stop at one of the CDC's newly listed high-risk rabies countries?

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Diane, I agree - on the first day I always brave myself for the worst. Not a fun start. We’ve all seen such crazy relief station stuff including no station at all, or the cruise line people saying they had no advance notice about the dog. This little trip was probably the smoothest overall ever, ironically given the pandemic issues. 
 

No, this trip was not to a high risk Rabies country, only to two places in Bahamas. (I got a second permit for Bahamas just in case but never needed it. So - it’s “in the bank” and good for a year. we’ll probably do another HAL Caribbean cruise later next year since they always stop at their own Half Moon Cay the first or last day.)

 

We go to the Dominican Republic next April which is high risk I think. I’ll just have the vet write on the form “Will not disembark”there.

 

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Thinking about booking a Caribbean cruise with Carnival hopefully by June of 2022 for a sail date of June or September 2023. I will be talking with my parents about it in March. The biggest hold up for my family is the potty box situation. We have been on 4 Carnival cruises previously. This would be the first with my service dog Bella. I did not have a service dog on any of the previous cruises. What are the potty boxes like? Bella does not go to the bathroom on command no matter how much I try. She also  prefers to do her business off leash. I want to get her potty box trained by March of 2022 so we know if cruising is even an option. How do you train it and what do you put in the box (pine pellets, astroturf, etc). I am going to spend a while looking through this thread over the coming year but it is a lot to go through. Thank you 🙂

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On 11/8/2021 at 10:28 AM, Disneynerdcruising said:

Those of you who didn’t use the third party service for the Bahamas pet permit, how long did it take to get a response after faxing the stuff? We leave 12/10 and I faxed everything over on Friday but I’m super nervous 😬😅.
 

i suppose if it becomes crunch time I could reach out to that guy for help? I think his website says he only needs two weeks notice?

 

also random but are we supposed to bring a life jacket for my SD?

You can fax it in??  We were told we could only send via UPS, FedEx or DHL.  We sent it DHL next day and then it was almost 2 weeks when we got the approved permit back via email, along with the form for the Vet to sign.  We got the actual paper permit in the mail the day after we got back from our cruise.  lol  They did check our paperwork before we got onboard at the Port of Galveston to make sure we got the permits but once we got off in the Bahamas no one even batted an eye or we were never asked for any paperwork by the port authorities.  The other service dog onboard had not obtained any port permits so they didn't get off ship in any of the ports.  

We did take a life jacket for MinJee but were pleasantly surprised to find one in our cabin when we got onboard (although it was a bit big even for her).  That was on the Carnival Dream.  Not sure about other cruise lines.  

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On 11/9/2021 at 2:45 PM, springredheadsdd said:

Thinking about booking a Caribbean cruise with Carnival hopefully by June of 2022 for a sail date of June or September 2023. I will be talking with my parents about it in March. The biggest hold up for my family is the potty box situation. We have been on 4 Carnival cruises previously. This would be the first with my service dog Bella. I did not have a service dog on any of the previous cruises. What are the potty boxes like? Bella does not go to the bathroom on command no matter how much I try. She also  prefers to do her business off leash. I want to get her potty box trained by March of 2022 so we know if cruising is even an option. How do you train it and what do you put in the box (pine pellets, astroturf, etc). I am going to spend a while looking through this thread over the coming year but it is a lot to go through. Thank you 🙂

We just sailed on the Dream the last week of October and MinJee (this was her first cruise) was not box trained either so I was a little worried.  I tried box training beforehand with the pellets Carnival uses but MinJee was not having it.  I asked the cruiseline about bringing pieces of sod onboard with me to alleviate the worry but was told no sod and was only allowed to bring cedar mulch to add on top of the pellets.  She didn't go at all for the first 24 hrs we were on board.  She took to peeing in the box easier than #2.  The one (#2) accident she had in a public space (corridor going to elevators to go down to the box) was witnessed by 2 passengers but they were very understanding and commented to my daughter "sometimes we just have to go when we have to go!".  Daughter cleaned up right away and proceeded down to deck 4 where the box was in the crew area.  We did allow her off leash while in the box area and would have her play running back and forth between my daughter and I to get some of her energy out.  Probably looked kinda funny to passengers that were on the inside along that crew deck because they would just see a random dog running up and down the deck outside.  

We found Carnival to be pretty accommodating as to the location of the box within limits.  At first it was placed all the way forward on deck 4 and we had it moved closer to mid-aft as that's where our cabin was so we would take the mid elevators down 3 floors and straight out the door which was right by her box.  On the first sea day back, I finally got them to put a smaller box on our balcony, which made it easier on my daughter not having to go up and down to get to the box all the time.  

I'm so glad we got our first cruise over with and now know better what to expect on Carnival for our next one.  Whatever you decide, be your own biggest advocate.  If you can do a balcony, advocate for having a box there if that's what you need.  🙂  Please let me know if you have any other Carnival specific questions.  

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Did your dog ever get sea sick? Bella has been known to get motion sickness from time to time. 

 

Also I  have recently developed some sensory issues that have not been diagnosed yet. I  loved my 4 previous carnival cruises but I didn't have sensory issues or a service dog then. I also don't like to be in large crowds. The more research I am doing and the more I am talking about this with my mom the more I feel like a cruise might just not be for me after all. I  get frequent dizzy spells and have difficulty maneuvering around at time. I remember past cruises the ship had a small rocking/ moving feel. I loved that at that time, but with my medical issues now I think it might not be the best option. 

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22 hours ago, springredheadsdd said:

Did your dog ever get sea sick? Bella has been known to get motion sickness from time to time. 

My service dog has not gotten sea sick and we have been in some pretty rough waters on several occasions (one cruise with 70mph winds). My vet has given me the dosage of Bonine appropriate for my service dog, but we have never needed it. You can check with your vet about what sea sickness medicine might be appropriate for your dog.

 

Is there a ferry near you or some other type of boat that you and your dog could go on to test how you might do on the water? We live near the San Francisco Bay and were able to do a test run on a ferry before I took my service dog on her first cruise.

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5 hours ago, DUTRAVEL said:

My service dog has not gotten sea sick and we have been in some pretty rough waters on several occasions (one cruise with 70mph winds). My vet has given me the dosage of Bonine appropriate for my service dog, but we have never needed it. You can check with your vet about what sea sickness medicine might be appropriate for your dog.

 

Is there a ferry near you or some other type of boat that you and your dog could go on to test how you might do on the water? We live near the San Francisco Bay and were able to do a test run on a ferry before I took my service dog on her first cruise.

Galveston Island Texas is about 1 hour from me. My family is now considering going to New York City in May. I know I can do a boat tour there that would be a good way of telling if cruising would work. If we go to NYC in May we should hopefully have plenty of time to book a Caribbean cruise for the following May or September. It would most likely take a couple of months after we get back from NYC to book the cruise. 

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