Are you among the 72% of people that fret about going on holiday because they worry about leaving their pet at home? Remarkably, for a very large number of people, their first priority when choosing a holiday is organising what to do with their dog or cat.
Cannot possibly go away and leave the dog…
According to a recent survey a staggering 10.5 million pet owners worry their way through their holiday due to constantly thinking about their cat or dog being left at home. Just as shocking, it was found that one in ten owners will not even take a holiday without their pet. From being slightly alarmed by this information and due to my passion for cruise, I decided to find out: Can we take our pets on a cruise with us?
Cruising is the largest growing sector within the travel industry and with over 300 ships to choose from worldwide, it is an increasingly popular holiday choice for so many people. So, with this information and the statistics about pet owners, surely it is possible to take your pet on a cruise?
After extensive research, it was not looking hopeful :-( However, I started to understand the reasons why taking your pet on a cruise is not possible. 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, the nature of a cruise holiday is going to more than one country during a sailing. Many countries have strict quarantine and admission requirements for any animals entering the country, therefore this would make it almost impossible.
So basically, the only pet that is allowed on a cruise ship is a service animal. Although a service animal is not actually considered a pet, they are an animal that is trained to benefit a person with a disability. Appropriate paperwork will have to be presented to the cruise line before the cruise and supervision of the animal will be the sole responsibility of the owner at all times. Owners will also be responsible for obtaining all required permits for service animals to leave the ship in port of call.
On most cruise lines, service animals are allowed to go in all onboard venues, including all dining areas. I can imagine you are now wondering, where they go to the toilet!? A popular question amongst cruisers, believe it or not! Well, they will have a special ‘Botty Box’ which will vary in size and location depending on the cruise line.
So, just as I was wrapping up my research and findings about pets on cruise ships… hang on… pet friendly cruise ship? How could this be right after everything I found out about not allowing this? Well, it turns out there is one exception to the rule. British cruise line, Cunard, operates the ‘Pets on Deck’ programme, allowing owners to bring their pets on a cruise with them.
Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 is an approved carrier in connection with the Pet Travel Scheme and allows dogs, cats and other furry favourites to go on a luxury transatlantic sailing with their owners. Pets onboard the Queen Mary 2 receive the same pampering as their owners. Boasting spacious pet kennels with a full-time kennel master, they have the ultimate luxury pet accommodation… with their own private ‘pet butler’!
The area also has an indoor play zone where dogs and cats can play with each other, or if stated by the owner they can have an individual playtime. Dogs are walked outdoors several times a day and also have visiting hours for the owners to go and visit them.
Fine dining? Of course! Freshly baked, healthy, gourmet doggie or kitty cookies are offered on a daily basis as well as meal times requested by owner.
Even overnight, pets are never left unattended and there is someone caring for them 24 hours a day. As for safety, all pets have their own life vests too! Those guests with pets are taught how to put them on during the emergency drill.
As if all of this was not enough, pets are also supplied with a complimentary gift pack which includes toys, personalized name tag, food dish, portrait with owner and a personalized cruise card. Lucky little things!
Cunard has supported the pet-friendly policy since the maiden voyage of the Britannia in 1840 when three cats were on board and since then thousands of pets have enjoyed the Cunard treatment, including, a monkey, canaries and a circus elephant! With such star treatment it’s no wonder that even some celebrity pets have cruised with Cunard including, Elizabeth Taylor with her dog, The Duke and Duchess of Windsor with their puppy and most recently Britain’s most famous dog, Pudsey, cruised with his owner Ashley.
Being a dog owner myself, I know how attached we are to our pets and if I could have taken my dog with me to sea I would have! Pets On Deck truely is an incredible concept and I know you are having second thoughts about your next holiday now! Be aware that there is a limit to 12 pets per cruise so they book up fast!
With all this talk of pets at sea, it gave me an idea. Some pets' love the water and some hate it, so I thought it would be fun for you to share with us pictures of your pets reactions and adventures with water. Visit Pets in Water to share your picture with us!
By Sally Grimes
Tuesday 14th May was probably one of the most exciting days that the small coastal town of Harwich has seen for a long time, due to the arrival of the newly revitalised Brilliance of the Seas. Royal Caribbean’s popular Radiance Class ship arrived to Harwich after completing a three week dry dock period in Cadiz, Spain for its multi-million dollar ‘Royal Advantage’ upgrade. Myself and a few other lucky Iglu team members were invited to check it out…
The only way is…
I had been waiting anxiously to see the new Brilliance of the Seas ever since it was announced that it was going to be revitalised. I worked on Brilliance back in 2009 and have great memories from this ship so this was going to be a trip down memory lane for me, with some added extras! From being born and bred in Essex, I was even more delighted that Harwich was going to be its first stop and home port for the summer. In fact, there is no better place to show off some new glitz and sparkle! :-)
Brilliance of the Seas was built in 2002 as the second ship in the Radiance Class for Royal Caribbean. This 90,090 tonne ship can hold up to 2,112 guests and is a very popular member of the fleet.
Royal Caribbean’s ‘Royal Advantage’ programme was set up to expand its most popular innovations to selected ships and Brilliance of the Seas is the latest to showcase this.
Wow from the first step…
Walking up to the ship made me feel happy and I was so excited to be going back on a Royal Caribbean ship, see some friendly faces I had worked with during my time at sea and of course, see the new Brilliance.
When we first stepped onto the ship, we actually all stood there and said ‘wow’. Upon entering the ship you step straight into the newly created five-story high Centrum. Compared to the old Centrum it looks so different, it has been transformed into a spectacular new space with bright colours and amazing new features. This new Centrum area is going to be home to the ‘Centrum Experience’ which is a new programme from Royal Caribbean that will host world class aerial performances, as well as other shows throughout a cruise. In addition to this it boasts the new ‘R Bar’ which is a '60s inspired bar that offers some of the best cocktails I have ever tasted! They have really made a superb job of this area and it has set its mark as the heart of the ship.
New features just kept popping out…
Even though I could have spent hours in the Centrum, I only had a day to explore the rest of the ship so I set off to see all of the other new features, and there were lots to see!
One of the main purposes of the revitalisation was to add various dining venues to Brilliance, in fact it has now doubled its dining options! New dining venues include Rita’s Cantina, Park Café, Izumi Asian Cuisine, Chef's Table and Giovanni’s Table. I have been lucky enough to try all of these venues on the newer Royal Caribbean ships and I can honestly say they are all delicious! Every restaurant we went to see during our visit offered us sample food, so you can imagine the excitement of our taste buds all day! Rita’s Cantina is the Mexican restaurant and they gave us a sample of Burrito and of course we had to sample the traditional Mexican Margareta!
I was particularly impressed with the addition of Giovanni’s Table. This is Royal Caribbean’s Italian speciality restaurant and believe me when I tell you, the food is amazing. The restaurant on Brilliance has been created in the perfect setting, situated at the side of the ship it boasts large windows overlooking the water, perfect!
The brand new English pub is a quirky addition to Brilliance, it is the largest pub at sea and offered a perfect atmosphere for drinking with friends and watching live entertainment.
As I walked around the ship I noticed they had put the interactive way finders in many locations. These are a really useful feature and cruisers have proved to love them. They are basically a large touch-screen TV where guests can put in their room number or a location and it will tell them how to get there and also tell them what events or shows are currently going on.
Another area that really impressed us was the new Royal Babies and Tots Nursery. I was onboard the Oasis of the Seas when this programme was first introduced and it was a huge hit. This area caters for babies from six months to three years and offers a fully equipped exciting area where parents can leave their child with fully qualified minders.
Although it was a rainy day in Harwich (no surprise there!) I had to go up to the pool deck, as I had heard the new outdoor movie screen was amazing. I have to admit this did excite me. Can you imagine sailing in a warm climate, relaxing in an outdoor Jacuzzi, watching a movie?
I could talk about the new features for ages, but some of the other ones I have not highlighted include beautiful stateroom upgrades, the addition of ship-wide WiFi and a new Concierge and Diamond Lounge.
From seeing all the Brilliance has to offer to guests, I already know they are going to love it, so I wanted to see what the crew thought. In this video different onboard crew members tell me their favourite features of the revitalization:
Time to go…
After a day on Brilliance checking out all of its new features, it was time to wrap it up and catch the train back to London. I was very sad about this as I would love to have stayed on, as this is one of my favourite itinerates (I hope to do a blog about these amazing destinations soon!)
In conclusion to the revitalization I can honestly say Royal Caribbean has done a superb job of making Brilliance of the Seas even better than she already was! All of the new features really make it the perfect ship to cruise on.
Brilliance of the Seas will now stay in Harwich until October and host various 12 night Baltic cruises, including amazing ports in Sweden, Finland and even an overnight in St Petersburg, Russia.
By Sally Grimes
Lots of you come back to us after you have been on a cruise holiday and talk about how helpful and friendly the crew were, so I am sure at some point during your cruise you wondered what it is really like to work onboard.
After spending five years at sea myself, I wrote a blog a few weeks ago and shared a brief summary with you about my adventures. However, that was me, can you imagine being the most important person onboard, the Captain?
A cruise ship captain is a licensed mariner who holds the ultimate responsibility for the ship. In addition to operational responsibilities the captain has to oversee all passengers and crew and is the final authority for everyone onboard. As if being in charge of thousands of people is not enough, they are also responsible for all maritime protocols, safety regulations, ship’s engines and maintenance, leading the navigational aids, directing the piloting and following the ship’s strict security plan. A pretty daunting job description, don’t you think?
Even though captains do try to get out and socialize with guests as much as they can, due to the important nature of their job, they are a hard person to speak to! However, no mission is too small for us here at Iglu! On a recent trip on P&O’s Azura we managed to secure an exclusive behind the scenes talk with Captain Julian Burgess.
In this video interview he talks about his exciting career that lead him to become a captain, the best and worst thing about his job and what he gets up to in his spare time!
Take a look at this unique video of our talk with Captain Julian Burgess:
From this video we can see that life at sea is certainly very fascinating and people that work onboard clearly have a passion for ensuring all guests have the best possible cruise. It is very exciting to hear Captain Julian Burgess share some really interesting personal views and experiences of his life onboard. So, who wants to swop their nine to five, comfortable office environment for stripes and the responsibility of a multi-million pound ship and thousands of people!?
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