Dog Travel Checklist for Ferries and Ships

Dog on Board a Ferry

More and more travelers take their dogs on vacation, often by boat. While Ship Operators adjust to customer needs, many uncomfortable restrictions exist for a comfortable trip on the sea. 

So we will share some tips and guide you on making your journey enjoyable for your pet and a comfortable trip so that he, like you, has a positive experience.

Can Dogs become seasick?

Yes, like humans, dogs can also become seasick. This is because dogs have sensitive balance organs and therefore react to the rolling and swaying of ships on heavy seas similarly to humans. This is to consider, especially when the ship operator requires the dog to remain in the car alone while the ship in heavy seas may be rolling heavily. You don’t want to have a frightened, lonesome, and vomiting dog in your vehicle. 

Consider the following

  • Is the dog OK with staying in the car for many hours alone?
  • Is the dog fine with new surroundings? 
  • Has he been on ships before and experienced rolling and seasickness?

Pre Departure Checklist

  • Assuming the travel destination is dog friendly, what ways to get there are available (ship, car, train, plane)?
  • You decided to go by ship; what ship operators are available for that leg of the trip, and are they all dog friendly?
  • Research the web for experiences of other travelers that had used these ship operators with their pets.
  • Check the latest version of the ship operator’s pet policy. The best way to find it is to search in google for [name of ship operator] “pet policy”. Note to put the term “pet policy” in quotation marks. It helps find the best results quickly. 
  • When in doubt, call the ship operator and ask them for information about their pet policy
  • Make travel reservations for your dog early. Experience is that many ships are sold out early for pet accommodation. Most ships allow only a few pets at the same time on board, and these tickets are sold out sometimes months in advance.
  • Make yourself familiar with the ship floor plan. Are there any dog relief areas available? How do you get there?
Signs indicating the location of a relief area for fods on board of ships
signs indicate where the poo / relief area is on board the ship

Food Checklist

  • Do you usually feed wet or dry food? If you use fresh meat, you may need a fridge on board. Is it available?
  • Plan how much food you need for the boat trip. Dog food usually is not available on board, and you don’t want to buy them expensive t-bone steaks every day.


  • Does your dog need a health certificate from a vet? Check the pet policy of the operator along with the pet travel policies of the destination (country, hotel)
  • Check the vaccination status of your dog. Some vaccination may also be required by the ship operator and country you are traveling to. 
  • Does your dog need a pet passport or an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) from your vet?
  • Do you need to purchase a ticket for the dog?
  • It is helpful if your dog is chipped. Store the information about the chip number. Some ship operators require the following: “Your pet must be microchipped, and the microchip number and date must be entered correctly on the pet passport/AHC. The microchipping date must be prior to the rabies vaccination”
  • Some ship operators require muzzles for dogs. Is your dog used to wear a muzzle?
  • Have a name and address tag attached to the collar of the dog plus a telephone number of you in a little waterproof container.

Packing list

  • Pack enough food for the dog. Don’t forget treats.
  • Poop bags are essential.
  • Medicine for the dog. You usually don’t have access to pet medicine on board a ship.
  • Veterinarians are usually not on board ship operators as part of the crew or as a service for pet owners. 
  • Is there a dog crate required? What are the limits in size and weight`?
  • Are there kennels on board the ship? Is your dog happy to spend time in such a kennel with many other animals close by in other kennels?
  • Bring your own water and food bowls before you need to ask for them and if they don’t have any.
  • depending on the fur of your furry companion, you may need dog shampoo, brushes, and a fan
  • a towel for the dog is always super helpful
  • in case of poop accidents, a bottle of enzymatic cleaning solution comes in handy
  • on small boats with the risk of the dog falling overboard, a life vest for your dog is essential. (dogs also like to jump into the water if they want to chase something)
  • a First Aid Kit for the furry friend. You can also use this for your own minor injuries.
  • The list above is probably not complete. It depends on your dog and the needs, especially the company’s pet policies. 
typical relief area on board a ferry
typical relief area on board a ferry

One often hears from travelers that the customs in many countries do not take the controls very seriously when entering the country with a pet. I wouldn’t count on that. Checks the requirements for entry with a dog in the destination country. The last thing you want is entry being denied and the dog ending up in some quarantine center for weeks.

Please write us about your travel experience with your dog on board a ship. We would love to hear from you. Photos to publish are more than welcome, and let us know if we shall extend the checklist.

Experiences and questions of other travelers

– Area: South-East Alaska, Question was about what to choose. Plane with Cargo option or a ferry trip of 37 hours, the dog is required (via ferry service) to remain in my car, and my car will be below in the car deck. I will have access my car and dog to feed and go potty for 20 minutes every 8 hours. He will have a comfortable setup in the back and is familiar with the vehicle. I am not allowed to be with him in the car. The Experience later was: “I choose the ferry option and it went extremely well. My dog responded well being in a familiar, comfortable environment. The ferry ride was smooth and I think the hum of the engine was calming to him. I was able to see him every 6-8 hours and brought a piece of turf for him to go potty on. No regrets and I ended up taking the ferry back with him to the mainland and once again, no issues.”


Travelled the world. Visited 17 countries together with the dog. Information research expert, others would say an investigator.

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