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Guide Dogs On Cruise Ships: Everything You’ll Ever Need To Know

Guide Dogs On Cruise Ships: Everything You’ll Ever Need To Know

Nowadays, cruise lines are completely dedicated to providing their guests with absolutely everything they need, whether it’s stronger WiFi to contact those at home, a more flexible dining policy or the facilities for taking guide dogs onboard.

All brands carry different policies regarding guide dogs on their ships but completely understand if you rely on an animal to help you do everyday things, even when on holiday.

Here is everything you need to know about taking guide dogs onboard every cruise ship and every cruise line…



Azamara Cruises welcome service dogs on all ships, but ask guests to note that the line do not accept pets.

Evidence that a dog is a service dog is helpful but not required (such as identification cards, other written documentation, presence of harnesses and/or tags or the credible verbal assurance of the person with a disability using the dog).

The cruise line ask passengers to notify the Access Department at time of booking but no later than 30 days prior to sailing if a service dog relief area is needed.


Relief areas are provided on a shared basis with other service dogs onboard and the animals are permitted to accompany the person with a disability in all public areas, including dining venues.

While in public areas, service dogs must be on a leash, harness or other restraining device. Due to health regulations, service dogs are not permitted in pools, whirlpools or spas.

Care and supervision of the service dog remains the sole responsibility of the owner- the ships are not required to provide food or care for the dog.


Carnival permit dogs that are legally defined and individually trained to meet disability-related needs by performing tasks such as guiding a blind person, alerting a deaf person, pulling wheelchairs, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, or performing other special tasks.


The cruise line warns guests with guide dogs that many of their ports of call have established strict entry requirements for animals, therefore the service animal’s veterinarian must be consulted prior to travel to determine each destination country’s policy regarding admission of working service dogs.

Carnival asks guests to hand-carry all required documents, along with the working service dog’s current vaccination records as the records will be asked to be submitted once aboard.



Service dogs are welcome on board Celebrity Cruises, but stress that pets are not permitted onboard. The line ask guests to give at least 14 days advance notice if they are bringing a service animal on board.



Costa Cruises

Animals are strictly not permitted onboard Costa ships, however the only exception is for people with a disability or reduced mobility who, on production of the relevant documentation, may bring a registered assistance dog with them that is trained to work or performtasks for the benefit of a person with a disability.


Crystal Cruises

Crystal Cruises understands a service animal to be any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.

Any animals that are not trained to do work or perform tasks are not considered to be service animals therefore will not be allowed on the ship.




Cunard accepts registered assistance dogs on board that have been specifically trained to assist a person with a disability and has been certified by an organisation that is a full member of Assistance Dogs International (ADI) or International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF), the accrediting bodies for assistance dog organisations worldwide.

Emotional support dogs are not recognised as an assistance dog by the above organisations and are not permitted on board, and all assistance dogs are carried free of charge.


Cunard welcome registered assistance dogs on all their vessels and holds a DEFRA licence on Southampton to Southampton cruises and transatlantic crossings on Queen Mary 2.

It is essential that owners understand the conditions that the dog must travel under and the line would advise all owners to carry their dog’s identification card, or similar, with them at all times in case local authorities require proof.



Trained service animals are welcome in most locations onboard Disney Cruise ships, but must remain on a leash and under the control of the owner. Further, the cruise line not responsible for the care and feeding of your animal.

Service animals are not permitted in the pools or wet play areas onboard our ships and may not be left unattended inside a stateroom and the line stress that, due to the nature of some Port Adventures excursions, service animals may not be permitted.


Note: the owner is responsible for obtaining the import permits from all countries that require those special documents and must have those original documents available at all times. 

Copies of completed permits for each port of call must be sent to Disney Cruise Line Special Services prior to the sail date.


Holland America

With the exception of qualified service animals for guests with disabilities, animals or pets are not allowed on HAL ships.

The cruise line advises guests planning to bring service animals onboard to call the Access & Compliance Department to inform prior to travelling, to which health certificate documentation for the animal in ports of call will then need to be provided.

holland america

Holland America stress to passengers that certain itineraries may include ports of call that have strict requirements, meaning service animals may not be allowed off the ship until certain requirements have been met.

The line asks guests with guide dogs to note that all documentation and immunization requirements are established by government authorities and not by Holland America themselves; the best places to obtain specific information on required documentation is the U.S Department of Agriculture and local customs offices in planned ports of call.



Properly trained and certified guide dogs are allowed on board MSC ships, provided they are in good health and have all documents required for entering the countries visited during the cruise.


The line stated that the guest will be informed in advance about the kind of accommodation provided for the dog, any facilities provided and the procedure for embarking and disembarking; it is also stress that the guests are personally responsible for the custody, feeding and general care of the animal.



Norwegian Cruise Line accepts service dogs that are trained to perform a specific task, and all guests travelling with them must book at least two weeks in advance to allow sufficient time to check with each port of call and provide NCL with all required documentation.

Guests must provide copies of the dog’s current vaccination records that show all shots are up-to-date, as well as a USDA or International Health certificate, aswell as making sure they are responsible for bringing all food, medication and life jacket for the service dog.


In accordance with the ADA, Norwegian Cruise Line stated that it does not accept “Emotional Support” dogs as service dogs.


P&O Cruises

P&O Cruises accepts registered assistance dogs on board that have been specifically trained to assist a person with a disability and has been certified by an organisation that is a full member of an accrediting body for assistance dog organisations worldwide.

If guests intend to travel with an assistance dog, the cruise line ask to be notified in advance and at least 48 hours prior to departure. Guests should also note that only assistance dogs that are fully trained will be allowed to travel.

P&O Cruises advise all owners to carry their dog’s identification card, or similar, with them at all times in case local authorities require proof.  Once the booking has been made confirmation of this will need to be submitted and once onboard, your assistance dog must remain with you at all times..


Assistance dogs must wear its harness at all times when not in the cabin and P&O Cruises stress that, due to the nature of cruising, they are unable to provide a safe off leash area for assistance dogs.

The cruise line state that it is essential that the passenger brings a suitable supply of all dry dog food, food and water bowls plus any applicable blankets/bedding, and that the following areas of the ship are the only areas not accessible for guide dogs:

-Designated children’s areas

-Swimming pools

-The “Beach Area” surrounding the pool (where water may flow freely in and out of the pool)


-Crew areas (unless the spending area is located here and only with assistance)

-Galley visits



Service animals are allowed onboard Princess cruise ships, but guests should note that entry regulations for service animals vary by port.

Passengers are advised to consult authorities at each port prior to departure for more information and to remember that the cruise line does not have food onboard for animals.


Royal Caribbean

Royal promise to provide small relief areas for any guide dogs you may take onboard with them and ask that guests inform their Special Services team at the time of booking your cruise.

This way the team can arrange onboard clearance, although the line does ask those with guide dogs to be aware that the care and supervision of the service animal is the sole reponsibility of the owner- including food and care for the animal.


Guests are responsible for obtaining all required permits for the animal to depart the ship in a non U.S port, and a copy of these permits must be taken onboard the ship with a copy left at the Guest Relations Desk upon boarding.

Note: On sailing’s to the UK, service animals are only permitted on the Independence of the Seas provided they meet the strict DEFRA requirements.  Service animals will not be permitted to disembark the ship at any port of call prior to entry into the UK.


Seabourn only permits service animals on board, defined as those animals that are individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability: no pets, therapy/companion animals or other animals that do not meet the definition of service animals.

Some itineraries may include ports of call that have very specific and strict requirements that need to be met prior to your service animal being allowed off of the ship so it is essential to understand the requirements for a service animal to disembark in each port of call.


Seabourn advises that the best places to obtain specific information on required documentation and immunizations for your service animal are the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website, local customs offices in the specific ports, and from your service animal’s veterinarian.

To board the ship, the service animal must have current vaccinations therefore records confirming the vaccination status should be provided to our Access & Compliance Department prior to departure.

Note: If you do not have the proper documentation and proof of vaccinations for your service animal required at a port of call, or if there are local quarantine requirements, your service animal will be denied the right to leave the ship. 


That was everything you’ll need to know about guide dogs on cruise ships: every requirement and restriction. Have you ever taken a service dog onboard a cruise ship? Which cruise line do you find caters most to guests’ more specific needs? Leave us your comments…

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