As a family we are not known for being on time when travelling, always last minute leaving, and always late arriving! For our River Thames Cruise with Le Boat we chose to take Rosie (cocker spaniel) on her first holiday. This trip would include Rosie’s first ferry crossing with Stena Line on the Stena Line Superfast X from Dublin to Holyhead then return. Rosie is young and hyper, quite needy and definitely a nervy dog, so…should we take a hyper, needy, nervy dog on a ferry? More importantly, was taking her on holiday a good idea or a bad idea in the first place? Only one way to find out…do read on!
READ ALL ABOUT ROSIE’S ADVENTURE ON THE RIVER THAMES CRUISE
DOG ON A FERRY
Not wanting to stress Rosie or make her feel unwell in the car, we knew that we’d have to leave home early, drive carefully and make frequent stops. When travelling with your dog on a ferry it’s a must to arrive at the ferry terminal early and with plenty of time spare before your sailing. This will allow your dog to get out of the car, have a walk around the ferry terminal and stretch their little legs before boarding. Also, and on the flip side of the coin; don’t arrive at the ferry terminal too late! Be mindful that the dog is going to be in the car, or the kennels; for a considerable length of time during the sailing.
CHECK WITH THE FERRY OPERATOR
Prior to travel, check with the ferry operator to see if they offer any guidance or advice on travelling with your pooch. The ferry operator will also be able to tell you what facilities they have on board for your dog.
CAR OR KENNEL?
When taking your dog on a ferry with Stena Line; you have two options. Your dog can either stay in the comfort of your own car, or stay in one of the dedicated kennels that are situated on the car deck. For us, the decision was easy and we chose to leave Rosie in the car. Rosie is happy in a crate in the boot of the car and it is a safe place for her to feel relaxed and comfortable. Normally Rosie is left with Nana and Granda when we travel and we’ve never left her in a boarding kennel before. With that in mind we felt that the onboard kennels would not have been appropriate for Rosie on this occasion.
SWITCH OFF THE CAR ALARM
If you leave your pampered pooch in the car, there’s a couple of rules we think you should follow. Always remember to leave your windows partially open to allow for ventilation during the ferry crossing. If safety is your concern, use a window ventilation guard, we find the expandable type work best. A small amount of water is advisable depending on the sailing time; use a non-spill bowl or a non-drip water bottle with roll dropper. Oh yes, almost forgot…if your dog is in the car and the car has an alarm…don’t arm it! If you’re unable to disarm the car alarm, then you’ve two things to consider: do I really need to take pooch on this trip, and/or, am I happy to leave the car unlocked on the ferry? If the latter suggestion is what you opt for, remember to take any valuables on board with you.
WILL MY DOG FRET OR BE ANXIOUS?
That really depends on your dog, its nature, how calm he or she normally is and whether they’re used to travelling. .Whether you leave your dog in the car or use the Stena Line kennels, we would always recommend that you try to remain with your dog as long as possible before the sailing. You should also try to remain calm around them. Allow other guests to board first and ensure your dog is settled before securing the vehicle and making your way to the lounge. Also, try to be one of the first to return to the car deck upon arrival to eliminate any unnecessary stress for your dog as other guests return to their own cars. And a handful of sausage bites is always going to go down well.
FOOD, WATER AND DOGGY BUSINESS
Food and water are important when taking your dog on a ferry. Both before, after and during (not so much during) the crossing. Our recommendation is to try and stick to your normal walking/feeding routine where possible. If you’ve an early morning or late evening ferry crossing, ensure your dog is fed and watered in plenty of time to digest their food and also do any necessary toilet duties before the crossing. Imagine returning to the car and there’s vomit or even worse, dog cack in the boot! And, you’ve got a 12 hour drive in the hot European sun to get to your destination…the smell…doesn’t bare thinking about does it? Eurgh!
WHAT TIME SHOULD I TRAVEL?
When travelling with your dog on a ferry it is important to consider what time of the day is best to
travel. If you’re travelling in the summer time, you may wish to consider a night time crossing when the
temperatures are considerably lower. If you do have to sail through the day when temperatures are at their hottest; ask crew for a shaded spot where there is also good airflow…windows…ventilation…we’ve covered that already!
HAVE ESSENTIALS AT HAND
Remember to have all your ‘essentials’ at hand for when you’re taking your dog on a ferry. Your ‘essentials’ list may differ from ours. We always have the following essentials to hand in a LeanPac bag when travelling with Rosie;
- lead (collar with id tag on dog, remove once secured in the crate)
- water and food bowls
- food and treats
- the all important ‘poo’ bags
- a towel, handy if it’s raining before or after your ferry crossing
- wet wipes
If your dog is staying in the onboard kennels for the ferry crossing; give them their comfy bed, blankets and favourite toy. You could also consider wearing an old jumper travelling to the ferry then place it in the kennel with your dog so they have your scent. Please don’t leave raw hide chews in with your dog, or anything your dog could possibly choke on or strangle themselves with. Always remove your dogs collar once secured in the crate to avoid snagging which could cause injury to your pooch.
PASSPORTS FOR YOUR POOCH
This is an area that may change in the future due to (dare I say it)…Brexit! If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, after 31 October 2019 the rules for travelling to EU countries with your pet will change. Travelling from Ireland or UK to mainland Europe, it is important that you have the necessary travel documents. You may never be asked to produce documentation when taking your dog on a ferry, but do you really want to take the risk? Obtaining a Pet Passport is straight forward and can be done with your Vet. A Pet Passport confirms that your dog has had all their necessary vaccinations. Your dog will also be required to have a rabies vaccination before a Pet Passport can be issued. Your dogs Pet Passport is valid for life (vaccines must be up to date, including a rabies booster every 3 years).
IS THE HOLIDAY THE RIGHT THING FOR YOUR DOG?
Lastly, but most importantly, before thinking about taking your dog on a ferry crossing, please consider if your dogs time away with you will be enjoyable for them. Will the length of time in the car before, during and after the ferry crossing; be comfortable for them? At your destination; is the accommodation suitable for them? Will there be plenty of places to take them for walkies? Where will they stay if you are going to places that are not dog friendly? These are all factors to take into consideration before you make the decision to take your dog on holiday.
THE LOVE BOAT…NOT QUITE!
Rosie’s first journey on a ferry was for a boating holiday on the River Thames with Le Boat. We knew before travelling that Rosie wouldn’t be left alone for more than an hour. Thankfully there are lots of dog friendly restaurants, pubs and places along the River Thames. Little miss Rosie was calm on the Stena Line Superfast X ferry, and she absolutely loved being on the Crusader by Le Boat. And Rosie has since been back on a boat for our River Shannon Cruise with Emerald Star by Le Boat. In our honest opinion, you should definitely consider taking your dog on a ferry and on holiday with you if are able to. After all, they are part of the family!
READ ALL ABOUT ROSIE’S ADVENTURE ON THE RIVER SHANNON CRUISE
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION READ TRAVELLING WITH PETS BY STENA LINE
WOULD WE GO BACK?
Through the power of telepathy (not really) we’ve been able to establish that Rosie thoroughly enjoyed her ferry trip with Stena Line. Quote from Rosie “woof, yap, grrrr, woof-woof, snarl, pant, yelp, gruff” (translated: I was nervous about travelling on a ferry at first, but soon settled for the journey. But I was definitely glad to see my family at the end of the ferry crossing.
With a very special THANK YOU to:
- Jillian Frew (Duffy Rafferty Communications Account Executive) – for organising our Stena Line Superfast X return ferry crossing with Rosie.
LILY-BELLE SAYS (10)
I was so glad that we got to take Rosie on holiday with us and she behaved well considering it was her first holiday. Rosie loved standing on the upper deck watching the swans as they swam by.
MATILDA SAYS (4)
I wanted Rosie to go swimming in the sea but Daddy wouldn’t let her, he’s so mean.
Date(s) of travel: 6th (outbound) + 13th (return) April 2019
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[disclaimer: Stena Line Superfast X ferry crossing was gifted by Duffy Rafferty Communications. Gifted item(s) were provided in return for social media and blog coverage]
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