Queen Mary 2 Kennels: Frequently Asked Questions

Queen Mary 2

Queen Mary 2 Cruise Ship

The Queen Mary 2 is steeped in a long history of luxury and the kennels are no exception to that rule.  In this post describing sailing days for the dogs in the kennels, I’ll try to answer some of the most common questions we have received on sailing days with dogs.

Chewy and Abby meeting the QM2 Commodore (British for Captain)

Where are the dogs allowed on the ship? 

Dogs are only allowed in the kennel area on Deck 12 of the ship.  Even if you have a small dog,  you cannot let your dog into your cabin or any other area of the ship.

Large kennel
Two large kennels joined together

How large are the kennels? 

There are twelve kennels on board the ship with the small kennels large enough to hold an approximately 25 pound dog and each large kennel can comfortably fit a 55 pound dog.  (I do not think you would want a dog much bigger than Abby in one of the large kennels.) 

Chewy and Abby in two kennels shared together

The kennel walls can be opened so a dog larger than 55 pounds can fit into two large kennels or, as in our case, Chewy and Abby were able to share the same larger kennel space.  In addition to the crates, the dogs have a small playroom that can be used during cold, stormy weather, and an outdoor area on board the deck. 

Jack and Shadow Billy on QM2
Dixie Trouble on QM2
Lil' Bit Chewy and Abby on QM

All the dogs on the QM2 (Abby's in the background)

On our voyage from Brooklyn to Southampton, there were eight dogs aboard the Queen Mary 2:  Chewy, Abby, sweet and quiet Shadow and her boisterous border collie brother Jack, the little Jack Russell Terrier sisters Trouble and Lil’ Bit, the belle of the ball Dixie, and the spunky (and, unfortunately for the ladies, quite the stud) Billy.  The vast majority of us were moving to Europe long-term or planning on spending an extended period of time in Europe and didn’t want to subject our dogs to the pain of plane travel.

Rex with Chewy and Abby

Rex with Chewy and Abby

Who takes care of the dogs? 

Rex, a full-time kennelmaster cares for the dogs throughout their stay aboard the Queen Mary 2.  Rex is a dog-lover and he gets to know the dogs very quickly.  The dogs always greeted Rex with smiles and wagging tails and we cannot speak highly enough about this wonderful member of the Queen Mary 2’s staff.

All the dogs in their kennels

All the dogs in their kennels

How much do the kennels cost/how do I book? 

These questions are answered in detail in this post, but the short answer is that the small kennels cost $500 and the large kennels cost $700.  Booking must be made via phone and, usually, at least a year in advance because the kennels are so popular.

Parents hanging out with the dogs in their outside area

How often did we see our dogs? 

Every day, the kennel was open from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., 3:00 to 6:00 p.m., and 8:00 to 8:30 p.m.  During these hours, even if we were not personally able to get there exactly when the kennels opened, Rex took our dogs out of their crates and let them out into the outside play area if it was sunny or the inside area on cold days. 

Chewy and Abby hanging out

The dogs hanging out at our feet (and in the chairs)

We got to know our fellow dog owners very well over the week because we all spent the majority of our days hanging out in the kennels.  Rex set out chairs every day outside and we sat on the chairs while the dogs hung out at our feet.  Often, we worked or chatted with the other owners, and some of the couples alternated out time spent at the kennel, so that the other person could do activities during kennel time.

Inside playroom

Inside playroom

Patrick and I usually alternated our morning time slots while the other person slept because from Brooklyn to Southampton, the ship sets its clock back by one hour every morning, meaning that every day we were waking up one hour earlier than we had the day before.  We always hung out with the dogs at the 11:00 time slot and usually went up to see the dogs for the 3:00 slot and went down for a short while to have afternoon tea before coming back up to feed them dinner.

Chewy drinking water on board

Chewy drinking from the communal water bowl outside during visiting hours

What do the dogs eat?

Prior to embarkation, Cunard asked us what our dogs eat.  We asked them to provide the ultra-premium Orijen food we feed them at home and Merrick wet food which we use in case Abby refuses to eat.  I recommend calling Cunard a week before you board to ensure that they received the food request and can stock your dogs’ food.  They were able to stock Orijen but we brought our own canned food and dry chicken treats on board.  However, any food not eaten by the dogs on board has to remain on the ship because of the UK’s customs limitations on meat products entering its borders.

The food prep area for the dogs

Rex also brings up a plate of boiled chicken and rice from the kitchens for each meal so if you have a picky eater, you can request chicken and rice.  On the first day, Abby refused to eat so we asked Rex to put in some chicken into her meal.

The dogs looking in through the grates
Dogs waiting to come in to get fed

On embarkation day, we discussed the dogs’ food preferences with Rex and he prepared their food every day.  He also gives them medicine if you so need.  He feeds them breakfast as soon as he arrives in the morning and feeds them dinner usually around 5:00 or 5:30.  We tried to be at the kennels for both mealtimes so we could make sure that the dogs ate properly, but neither had any trouble eating.

Kennels

Kennels

Can I bring my dogs’ favorite treat/blanket/toy, etc.?

Yes.  The QM2 provides a plush fleece dog bed for each of the dogs but if your dog would like to have his own blanket or toy, you can bring it up there.  We brought our own treats for the dogs and a few toys and a ball which we played with in the inside playroom.  The QM2 also had a few dog toys in the playroom.

Dogs outside QM2 deck with dogs
Dogs drinking Lil' Bit

Where do the dogs “do their business"?

Ahhh, now this is the all important question.  The dogs pee and poop in the outside area on the deck.  As soon as they do their business, Rex immediately comes out with a mop and squeegee and cleans off the deck, meaning that though a lot of “business” happens on the deck, the deck stays very clean. 

To be honest, the first day was a little iffy.  (By the way, stop now if you are squeamish about pooping and peeing, but my guess is that if you’re a dog owner, you’ve seen and smelled it all.)  Most of the dogs peed on the first day but refused to poop and there was an awful lot of smelly diarrhea and some messes in the cages on the second day morning.  By the third day, all the dogs had adjusted quite well and didn’t seem to have any issues.

Chewy hanging out with all his new friends

Do the dogs get along?

All of the dogs on our crossing got along quite well though, by the last day, the more active dogs were getting cabin fever and wanted a good solid run.  One of the dog owners had taken the Queen Mary 2 with his dog several times and he said that he only had one crossing where one dog was very temperamental.  I would not recommend sailing with your dog if your dog does not get along with other dogs because they are in very close quarters for nearly seven days.

Do the dogs get motion sick?

None of the dogs on our ship got motion sick.  In fact, the ship is so large and the stabilizers so good, that we didn’t feel much of the motion at all.

Folks at the fences

Folks coming to greet Abby and Chewy (they were quite the celebrities) and a view of the fencing

Can dogs get out of the gates?

If you have a teeny-tiny dog, that is a dog under five pounds, it is possible that they could squeeze under the gates, but it would be a tight fit.  In the dog run area, Cunard has put glass all around the bottom of the normally open grates so that the dogs cannot stick their noses out.

I would not recommend the ship if you have a fence-jumping dog because the main gates into the dog run area are only about 3 ½ feet tall.

Are cats allowed on the ship?

Cats are allowed on the ship and spend most of the time in their kennels or in the inside playroom.  Cats are, for obvious reasons, not allowed onto the outside area.  (Note: On crossings when cats are in the kennels, the cats are kept in the inside playroom and the dogs are kept outside, meaning that if it is very cold, you and your dog will stay cold.)

Jack on QM2 Shadow on QM2
Chewy Trouble and Lil' Bit

Billy on QM2

Dixie on QM2

 

Us with our pups

The dogs on their formal day

Did the dogs have fun?

As far as we can tell, yes.  They seemed to be very comfortable on board and liked their space and the other dogs.  They liked being with us and didn’t mind the unusual atmosphere all that much. 

The dogs are quite the celebrities aboard the ship because everyone comes up to Deck 12 at some point to take pictures of them, pet them, and talk to us about how we got our dogs aboard.  Some non-dog owners spent almost as much time near the kennels as we did!

On one of the days aboard, Rex gave each of the dogs their own QM2 swag bag with a jacket, food/water bowl, and QM2 crossing certificate.  The next day, Rex dressed in his official uniform and we all dressed up in formal attire and the ship’s photographers took pictures of us.  Each dog received one picture for free and additional pictures were able for a fee (I think around $25 per picture).

The totally ridiculous sign outside the kennels that did not at all deter people from visiting the "celebrities"

Would you recommend the QM2 kennels?

Absolutely.  I think it is the best way to take dogs from North America to Europe and back and only wish that other cruise ships offer this service.  The dogs were treated extremely well, we spent a lot of time with them, and we never worried that they would be unduly stressed or harmed from the journey, as we would worry if we had to put them into the cargohold of an airplane.

Previous: Queen Mary 2 Kennels: Disembarkation
Next: Pet-Friendly England: Cotswolds Wildlife Park

11/24/2011 05:07
Sounds like the Queen Mary is a very dog friendly ship! Luv those stylish doggy jackets they gave you! :D That Rex could take care of me anytime :D

Waggin at ya,
Roo

PeeS: I would have to recommend some green turf patches for the poop and pee sector. Some of us will only go in 'grass' ;)
Roo's recent blog post: It's Turkey Day!
12/04/2011 16:07
Roo, I agree! I wish they had little green removable "turfs" for the dogs but I guess those would be more difficult to have dogs trained on. It seems like a much better solution to me, too!
12/11/2011 13:38
Maybe if I bring my own turf? I am just under 3 pounds and use a small 20"x20" pet head. I feel like calling just to find out! Great post, great pics ... and I WOULD fit under that gate! lol I fly in cabin so we tend to fly ... but this is GREAT to know since a lot of larger dog owners often ask for better options.
12/11/2011 14:36
That's definitely a possibility - if your dog is already trained on it, I can't imagine that they would have any issue with you bringing the turf! :)
01/13/2012 10:27
Criket
Akila, Thank you for sharing your experience about taking your dogs on the Queen Mary 2. It was wonderful to read your story. I am planning to take 2 cats on the QM2 in August, just wondering if you saw any cats in the kennel during your trip? Did they seem stressed? Our cats have never been in a kennel, and one is not very friendly. I'm sure it will be very stressful getting them to the ship, let alone leaving them in the kennel for 7 days. Glad to hear you liked the hotel, we also plan to stay at the Sheraton Brooklyn a day prior. Thanks for any feedback you may have about cats. FYI, for anyone thinking of taking their dog or cat on the Queen Mary 2, its important to book your kennel as soon as Cunard opens up bookings for their crossing for the following year. Kennels sell out very fast.
01/20/2012 09:17
Criket, absolutely. I'm glad to help! There weren't any cats on our crossing but one of the other owners had been on the QM2 twice with his dog and said that on one of his crossings, another owner had a cat. Apparently, during the "outside" times, the cat stayed in the inside room and the dogs stayed outside on the deck. It might be stressful for your cats, especially if they aren't used to being around dogs, because the kennels are directly on top of each other, as you might be able to see from the photos. I would absolutely consider taking them to a kennel beforehand to see how they manage "on land" because the first embarkation day was quite stressful for all the dogs (and humans). Good luck!
06/02/2012 13:33
Selina
I am planning on taking my Golden Retrievers on the QM2 in January, they aren't jumpers but they can obviously stand on their hind legs and see over any 3 1/2 ft fence. Should I be worried?
07/05/2012 08:21
Selina, I don't think you should have a problem. All of our dogs were able to stand on the fences and "see" over but it wasn't an issue. There's also always someone there (either you or the kennelmaster) so it's very easy to make sure nothing bad happens. Have a great trip!
06/29/2012 11:47
Natalie Hosnay Shadbolt
Thanks so much for sharing your experience. My husband and I are keen to move to the US from the UK but we are not comfortable having our Flat Coat Retriever (Magnum PI) and our Pug (Jagger) flown in the hold of a plane. Queen Mary 2 seems to be a good alternative. I wondered if there is a vet on board in case of any illness/accident? I imagine not but I thought it worth asking.
07/05/2012 08:32
Natalie, No, there isn't a vet on board and there isn't even a doctor on board if there are any human injuries. The best you can get is a nurse and I doubt that she'd have much skill with pets. Because you have to take the dogs to the vet immediately before you get on the ship to get tick and tapeworm treatment, it's fairly likely that the vet would catch any major illnesses. The more difficult issue is if there are any emergencies and, unfortunately, there wouldn't be anyone aboard to handle those issues. This is also the reason why I wouldn't recommend traveling on the QM2 with a very young puppy or with a very old dog. It's important that they be in good health.
07/19/2012 22:06
Amanda
I was so glad to find this page! My husband is looking into a job and school in Italy, and i won't fly my dogs!!!! Thank you thank you, thank you!!!!!
07/24/2012 08:12
Tania
Hi, What a rlief to find your website- so helpful! Im supposed to be bringing my 10 year old English bulldog to Switzerland with me this winter. I didnt know abou the few amount of kennels. I noticed you wrote they book up fast but then you also wriote that only 8 (out of 12) were booked on your trip. I didn't book yet and Im wondering your thougths (its July now and I want to travel this November)?? Also, is there anything you would recommend in regards to m travelling with a bulldog (sensitive breed) and him being so old as well? Anything I should be aware of before doing this?
09/02/2012 15:30
Tania, I think it was an off-chance that we didn't have that many kennels booked. Actually, they were all supposed to be booked but a few people cancelled at the last minute. I'd say to go ahead and get on the wait list. You might be able to get on there, but I'd be surprised. Also, with him being older and a bulldog, I'd definitely consider talking to your vet beforehand and asking him whether he has any recommended medications. If your bulldog has been in kennels before, then he's probably fine on the QM2 but, if he hasn't experienced kennels, then I would definitely recommend doing a trial run while you're still on dry land. And, I'm SO sorry for the delay in responding to you. This has been a crazy summer!
08/04/2012 11:11
Jessica
Can dogs travel unaccompanied provided they have all the necessary documents and there is someone to take them and pick them up?
09/02/2012 15:35
Jessica, No. Dogs must be accompanied by a paying passenger.
08/24/2012 10:14
Great post and photos. I have linked to this on my All About Cunard Blog on an article I just posted about the Dog Act that won Britain's Got Talent 2012 that went on QM2 to do a tour of the USA (short URL link: http://ow.ly/dcSqK ). I want to do a longer feature on dogs on QM2 and wondered if in addition to linking here again I can use and attribute 2 of the photos in the article? Hope so!
09/02/2012 15:38
Gary, thanks so much for the link! All of our photos are copyrighted but if you email me at theroadunleashed [at] gmail [dot] com, we can talk about which photos you are interested in using. Thanks!
10/28/2012 13:09
Monica
Hi,

I'm planning to take my German Sheperd on the Queen Mary next year but I am concerned about the space for the dogs to exercise. Is that space on the deck of wich you took pictures (the area with the chairs) the only place available for them to "stretch their legs". Since it seems more or less fine for a small dog not used to doing exercise but it does not seem too fit for a larger breed and that concerns me, since my dog would go crazy 6 whole days with no exercise. In the cunard website they state that they walk teh dogs many times a day? is this true, since from what you posted it seems that they consider walks as just letting them out in a 5 squared meter place packed with chairs.

I would extremely appreciate if you could tell me a bit more about this, since it's a really big deal for me as I wouldn't desire my doing being unhappy and stressed because of the lack of activity...and of course, it is a really expensive choice too.
12/06/2012 15:14
Monica, I'm so sorry for the long delay in responding to your question. Yes, unfortunately, that is the only area on board for walks for the dogs. It really isn't very big and Abby, who is a very active dog, definitely started to get very irritable by the last two days because she didn't have enough exercise and room to get around. If your dog is very excitable and needs lots and lots of exercise, then this might not be the best option for you. We are able to make do with our dogs by basically walking them back and forth across that small deck space and then throwing balls to them in the inside playroom.
01/07/2013 10:29
Sacha
Hello,
What a great blog post.
I have been stressing about getting my dog Crosby to Colorado from London for over a year now. After all my research I just couldn't stand the thought of him travelling on a commercial flight in the luggage hold and so travelling to New York on the QM2, with a long drive to Colorado seems my only answer.
I have looked through your pics and my only concern is the low height of the stretched tarp side rails. Is that all that lays between the drop into the sea and the deck? Also you mention glass being fitted, is that behind the stretched tarp?

He can jump quite high during a ball game on land, so deck walks would have to be strictly on a lead with NO ball in sight! :).

Thank you in advance for your reply.

Kind Regards
Sacha
03/05/2013 12:52
Sacha, I'm so sorry --- I thought I had responded to this comment but I guess I hadn't. The glass is a small piece that runs only under the bottom of the stretched tarp, basically so that the dogs can't peek their noses out. The other side of the tarp goes directly down to the lower decks or to the ocean so it is NOT a good fit for a fence jumping dog. In any event, you wouldn't want to play ball outside with your dog because of the possibility of the ball rolling outside of the gates. We normally played ball inside and just walked or ran the dogs outside. If your dog regularly jumps fences, I would not recommend it --- even on leash, there's the possibility that your dog might get super excited and jump the tarped area, especially while trying to get adjusted to the new surroundings.
02/15/2013 20:57
Claire Livingstone
Thank you so much for all of this.
I am a Brit, living in the US, planning on moving back to the UK with my cavalier.
Can't bea the Idea of him flying in the hold of a plane. This seems so much better particularly the biting hours.... Wish he could just stay in the cabin though.
The one think I'm concerned about (which I knw can be reeded with training and time) is ha h wa never crated as a puppy an I am nervous about keeping hm locked in a crate for so long.
Thank you though for all the info
03/05/2013 12:38
Claire, that would concern me, too. Has he ever stayed in a boarding facility on dry land where he would stay in a crate? If so, it's quite similar --- if not, I would highly recommend doing a trial run on dry land to see how it goes. Alternatively, if your dog is small enough (and many King Charles Cavaliers are), you could fly to Paris, in which case he could stay under your seat, and then drive into England through the Eurotunnel. Mary-Alice at DogJaunt (http://dogjaunt.com) has done that before and it worked out very well for her and her King Charles Cavalier.
03/06/2013 09:09
Claire Livingstone
Thanks so much for that info!. I never knew that. I'll connect with Mary-Alice and do some research regarding quarantine upon arrival in France and then potentially the UK as well (from France, but this would be so much easier. If he's close to me, he is fine.
Cav's can be small. He is about 18 lbs and has probably stopped growing (1 year and 2 months)

I will take your advice though and do a couple of dry runs on land in a crate to ensue that he is at least trained that way.

Thanks so much.
03/15/2013 15:15
stef
Thanks for the detailed explanation. I am considering the QM2 for my cats, but it seems too stressful to me... I have an old cat who need therapy for her heart and I don't think she could react very well in an environment like this one, with a lot of dogs and a lot of people going around. I thought it was possible to bring cats in the cabin :-(
I can't even go by plane because of her illness.
04/03/2013 17:20
Stef, Sorry to hear that. Yes, there's a lot of dogs so it might be stressful on her. I hope that you find a good way to bring her over!
08/03/2013 22:41
Wendy
Awesome post! What a great option to flying- My fiance and I are considering moving to Europe in about a year and I have been stressing about taking our fur-babies on a plane. A co-worker who used to live in Berlin said if you bring a pet into the british isles they MUST be quarantined for like 3 months- but it sounds like as long as you follow the Travel Scheme, you're okay.

I saw the picture of the kennels and saw that your dogs stayed together. Our dogs are both 45-50 pounds so do you think they would need to stay in two separate large kennels or would one be big enough for them both? Did you have to pay more since you had two dogs but they stayed together? Thanks for all the great info!!
08/07/2013 17:19
Wendy, the quarantine information is really out of date! Lots of people told us the same thing but it's not true. It's a lot of paperwork but totally worth it, I think. It sounds like they're probably just a little bit bigger than Chewy and Abby (Abby's about 50 pounds and Chewy's 40). I think you'd be perfectly fine getting them two large cages and they'll take down the walls so that your pups can stay together. There's no extra charge for them to take the wall down so that the dogs can stay together and most of the families that had multiple dogs had their dogs staying in the same cage together.
08/07/2013 17:19
Oh, and they won't let you purchase just one cage for them! There are twelve cages on board and each dog must have his own cage. But, they can combine the two cages together so it's one huge cage for your two dogs.
01/01/2014 10:50
leslie
Thanks for the great info I had no idea this was an option. Im not sure which would be better flying with our dog in the cargo hold of the plane for 8-10 hours in a krate or a week on a ship in a krate. Our dog is used to sleeping with us and not sure if its best to have the short flight as opposed to a week on a ship. any info on flying with dogs in cargo hold would be appreciated I have read mixed things
thanks so much
05/07/2014 10:08
Leslie, I'm so sorry for the very delayed response on this. I don't have experience with flying with dogs in a crate, but I highly recommend that you visit www.dogjaunt.com, which has great information on flying with dogs.
04/27/2014 20:39
Gabriel
This sounds fantastic. I had considered by sea but the crates are too small as I have Irish wolfhounds it would have been perfect if there was a way for giant breeds to travel this way. Wolfhounds are so low key that the lounging and little exercise does not concern but sadly it does not seem like a fit unless Cunard has found a way to accommodate giants. I read something about the walls between crates being removeable.
Any ideas. I am planning one year in advance.
05/07/2014 10:20
Gabriel, how big are your wolfhounds? I know that they generally run around 100ish pounds, right? I think that you could definitely have them accommodated in two of the large crates put together. They can remove the wall between two of the large crates. The only thing is that your dog may not be able to turn around very easily in it. I'd suggest that you talk to the cruise ship directly to find out if they think they'd be able to accommodate your dogs.
05/08/2014 09:24
Hmmm. . . yes, given their height, it might be tough to get them inside the crates. I think they would fit weight wise but they would have a hard time being able to stand up inside the crates to turn around.
06/17/2014 11:15
Lauren
Thank you so much for this information! I have been searching the internet for days on a way to get my kitty to Europe--was terrified about having to put him in the cargo hold! Can you give me some more information on travel scheme? My ultimate destination is Dublin, so we would have to fly out of Southampton. I don't really know what's current and what's out of date in regards to policies to bring your pet into the UK. Thanks!!
07/15/2014 09:48
Lauren, This is going to be your best source of information on the most recent regulations to get your pet to England --- http://www.defra.gov.uk/ahvla-en/imports-exports/pets/
One possibility is that rather than flying out of Southampton, you could take the ferry from England to Ireland. You could drive from Southampton to Pembroke and then take the ferry over to Rossclare. Irishferries allows pets to be brought in a crate: http://www.irishferries.com/uk-en/faq/pets-irelandbritain-routes/
12/13/2014 07:15
Lauren - any update on how this went for you? We can't take our cat on a plane in the cargo hold (breed restriction), so we are investigating other methods.
10/21/2014 16:30
Susan Bucknall
Akila, this is a fantastic post that I happened upon whilst searching for info relating to transporting my boys (3 Golden Retrievers) on the QM2 from New York to Southampton some time next year. I am reluctant to fly them as cargo in the aircraft hold, particularly as my older dog flew out that way to Atlanta from the UK almost 10 years ago and following that traumatic experience is psychologically scarred for life. He and his brother were locked in their individual crates for 14 hours or more - goodness knows how many of those hours were without water and it's such an awful thought. There is one issue that concerns me: the tapeworm treatment that has to be administered no less than 24 hours and no longer than 120 hours prior to arrival in to the UK. If the crossing is 7 days, taking in account we would also have to drive to NY from ATL beforehand, the timescale for this treatment will not work. Is there a resident veterinary surgeon on board the QM2? I will have to contact Cunard to discuss but it's useful to receive feedback from someone who has experienced the process. As this is an approved route in to the UK though, surely these timings have been taken in to account? After reading the useful comments above, it seems I shall have to book their passage fairly soon if we want to be back over there in less than a year?! THANK YOU for providing such an interesting and informative post. I might well do the same after our experiences! I look forward to hearing from you.

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Akila writes. Patrick takes photos. Chewy eats. Abby runs. We live, love, and travel in this world.
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