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Sailing the High Seas with Your Dog

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Millions of pet lovers across the globe would probably need little prodding to admit a little secret: they don't travel because they don't want to leave their pets behind! Travel is supposed to be about de-stressing, recharging our batteries and connecting with our loved ones - but for many, the list of loved ones includes the family dog. The options of what to do with your dog while you are away seem numerous but, in reality, many don't come up to scratch. One option is a pet hotel - yet we can worry about how our pet will fare without us, and how they will do in spaces which tend to be much more confined than when they are with us at home. Another option is flying by plane; yet limited space availability and restrictions on dog size can make this option nonviable. Pet owners can also worry about larger dogs, forced to travel with cargo and long waits between flights are another concern. Moreover, those with bracycephalic breed dogs (such as pugs, Boston Terriers and bulldogs) can be worried about the effect that a flight can have on their pet's health. One option which surely has appealed to many is a pet-friendly cruise, a holiday that only recently became a reality for many pets and their owners.

The Queen Mary 2 Comes to the Rescue

Luckily for your pooch, there is an exception to every rule; in the case of pet-friendly cruises, that exception is the Queen Mary 2. Approved in conjunction with the Pet Travel Scheme, this transatlantic cruise accepts dogs, cats and other animals onboard, alongside their owners. The cruise boasts spacious facilities and amenities, such as fresh-baked biscuits for your pet, a bed and blanket list and a selection of foods from premium brands. The kennels are overseen by a friendly Kennel Master, who ensures that your pet sleeps cosily atop warm, fluffy blankets and stays entertained with a wide selection of toys, and you can also bring your dog's favorite blanket or toys to make it easier for him to adapt to his new floating environment. The Queen Mary 2 also pampers pets with a complimentary gift pack, which can include items such as a Frisbee, name tag, food dish, and even a coat bearing the Queen Mary 2 logo!

One of the best things about this cruise is that it is takes the work out of having a pet, but allows you to enjoy all the fun moments during visits and playtime. A dedicated Kennel Master cleans all kennels, and walks and feeds your dogs. You can always visit your dog, if you like, since the kennels are open all day. You can also expect to be entertained at events such as 'Dog Lovers' Meetings', where you can meet and greet fellow dog lovers and share tips and information.

Book in advance

Since limited space is available aboard the Queen Mary 2, it is advisable to book in advance (many clients book as much as one year ahead). Additionally, make sure you have all the health permits required by the time you travel (including the certificate of good health from your veterinarian) and that you have purchased the right-sized, travel-approved pet container. Finally, make provisions for the anxiety your pet may experience at the commencement of the cruise. Steer clear of strong sedatives and try to opt for an herbal pet calmer. reminds owners: "Depending on your dog's anxiety level, natural remedies may work just as well as, or better than, their pharmaceutical counterparts, with no side effects or other adverse reactions. Always check with your veterinarian before starting any home-based treatment program, and use your dog's size and anxiety level to determine the best calming option for him." You may also wish to use essential oils like lavender, which can also be used on adults to induce a state of calm. MindBodyGreen notes that the fragrance of lavender "is calming, relaxing and balancing - physically and emotionally. Carrying a bottle of lavender around with you is like having your own personal first aid kit, perfume and pick-me-up." Massage a drop or two onto your dog's paw or diffuse it into the atmosphere with the help of an essential oil diffuser. If using essential oils on your pet, make sure they are of the very best, therapeutic-grade standard.

Will More Cruise Liners Follow Suit?

Most cruise liners only allow service pets (e.g., guide dogs for the blind) onboard. The main reason has to do with a lack of space and sanitation, as espoused by cruising experts, "Cruise ships have extremely strict sanitation and health guidelines that they have to adhere to, and this would prove fairly difficult with pets onboard. Just like us, pets need somewhere to sleep, exercise, eat and go to the toilet, so to make this possible in a limited space shared with so many people, would be hard. Secondly, many countries have strict quarantine and admission requirements for any animals entering the country, therefore this would make it almost impossible." Of course, it could be argued that dedicated spaces could be provided on most cruise ships for pets to play, exercise and do their necessities. Ultimately, it is a matter of supply and demand, so if a pet cruise sounds up your alley, make sure your favorite cruise companies hear about it!

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