On day seven the QM2 finally reached Southampton and docked precisely at 6:30am, with not a bump. Michael and I woke early to go see the approach into the harbour and it was nice to see land again with the bustling port. Southampton port is not super scenic and on a drab, drizzly day we very soon ended up inside for breakfast. As most cruises go, we had to have all our luggage outside out door by midnight, keeping only a day bag for overnight/morning essentials.

At 7:45am all the owners headed to the kennels (with all their day bags/carry ons), for the last feeding of breakfast on board. We arrived to the kennels to an awful smell – several of the dogs had defecated in their kennels overnight. Ours was one of them.

I went to open the kennel door and poor Munro had scratched off some of his nose leather trying to get out of the kennel sometime in the night (obviously because he had to do number two!). We felt awful for him. Oliver, our Kennel Master said that day 6+ on the crossing is the hardest for the dogs – that’s when more poops in kennels happen, they get restless and (sometimes) there can be ‘words’ between dogs. We were due to disembark shortly, so we didn’t have time to launder his soiled bed – so, zip into a plastic bag it was rolled after a quick rinse.

We waited until about 8:40-ish and Oliver received the official call that we could start the ‘en masse’ disembarkation. It isn’t until this phone call, did we know if DEFRA will be coming to the kennels to check all the dogs’ paperwork, so some of us were a bit anxious not knowing. Apparently they do not come aboard very frequently because it is early Sunday morning, so that was a good thing.

Walking off the ship with the dogs was straightforward, but it was clear that the dogs knew solid ground was waiting for them – it was a challenge to keep them on a ‘heel’ command. We went through the ‘nothing to declare’ passage and found our bags then exited the building. It is worth noting that the QM2 processes immigration onboard the ship on days 2-4, so we took our passports to the officer on board (there were scheduled times) and got our stamps, dated for day of entry, June 17th.

As dog owners, our bags had priority tags and were waiting in the terminal right near the exit door. Our friend, Rufus was there waiting as we bumbled out of the terminal with all our bags and the two dogs – we are lucky to have him as a friend 🙂  We drove to his farmhouse about 45 mins away and settled in for 4 days of field-walking, home-cooked meals and we met his wife, Zoe for the first time (she is wonderful!).

The dogs settled in nicely after a week at sea, but they both had (what we call) ‘bad bum’. I don’t know if it was the stress of yet another new environment, or transitioning to a slightly different food, or being with 3 small children (our dogs don’t really know children) and two other dogs or maybe they ate something untoward. It was strange, especially for Mylie who has iron guts – she even turned up her nose at some food which we have never seen her do in 7 years. I guess we’ll never know.

Now it’s a month+ from when we arrived in the UK and we have driven all through Scandinavia and will be heading to Estonia on a ferry in a few days – after our 4 days in Helsinki where we have just arrived. 4000+ kms in the car and different accommodations every 1 – 5 nights, and the dogs are doing wonderfully. I expected them to be less tenacious for travel and frequent turnarounds in accommodations – they are far exceeding my expectations, so I admit I feel a bit guilty in under estimating them.

Here’s a quick video of us disembarking:

I’ll be writing another blog post about travelling with dogs through Europe, but I don’t know when as I’m having too much fun enjoying it all. Thanks for reading!

In ‘Dogs on the QM2 – Part One of Four’, I will describe the paperwork you need for your dogs.

In ‘Dogs on the QM2 – Part Two of Four’, I will describe the embarkation process.

In ‘Dogs on the QM2 – Part Three of Four’, I will describe how the dogs did during the journey.