Whew, after a stressful few days of paperwork issues, we made it on board the QM2 with our two dogs, Mylie and Munro. On the morning of embarkation, we were picked up by Alice of caninecar.com to get a pet-friendly ride to the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, with all of our luggage.  Alice is great – we used her the second day in Brooklyn to get a ride into Manhattan for a drop off at The High Line, after which we walked about 8km back to Brooklyn. I highly recommend using Alice for your dog transport – she is on time, friendly and has reasonable rates.

When we arrived at the Terminal, some guy grabbed all out luggage and sent us in the building – we did nothing to help unload. We got inside and were ushered ahead of the line to passport check (the border control gushed at the dogs), then onto security. And voila – we were no sooner reorganized with our day bags coming out of security and two lovely Gentlemen said “Hello, Mylie & Munro!” – what the hell? Who have we run into I thought? Turns out they were our Kennel Masters and were greeting all the Canines right in the Terminal. Oliver & Aaron walked us to the priority area and we saw about 7 other dogs and owners waiting.

We sat and waited and a Cunard Rep (turns out she was also our Librarian aboard), went over each Dog’s USDA forms/signatures. When they came to us, she said our Rabies date was too recent – the date had to be 28 days BEFORE sailing. My heart sank. I almost threw up thinking our embarkation would be thwarted. So I explained the recent USDA shenanigans from the days before and she went to speak to her manager. I also mentioned that we had all the same forms signed by the CFIA Government Office if she wanted us to use those instead. About 30 excruciating minutes later she reappeared and said all is good.

As each group of about 6-7 dogs had their paperwork reviewed (after which each Owner needed to check themselves in at the priority counter), Oliver and Aaron walked us onto the ramp and through the ship to get to the kennels. As soon as we set foot on the actual ship, Munro dropped and rolled his back on the plush carpet – thank god everyone laughed.

Once we arrived at the kennels our group was seated in the inside Owners Lounge area and the Kennel Masters gave us an emergency procedure paper and instructed us to return at 5pm that day, as well as at 8:30pm. At that point we put the dogs in their kennels. We had requested the dogs share two kennels (Cunard removed the wall between them), which was a good – our dogs spend alot of time together and we felt this may ease some stress.  We opted to keep their own beds in the kennels as a comfort, although Cunard does supply a nice plush bed for each dog, as well as a water dish in the individual kennels.

At 5pm we arrived to feed our dogs and only dry kibble was available as requested by each owner, on the form we all sent in to Cunard upon final payment for our booking. Any wet food or rice, beef, chicken etc was not to be available until the next day – I wish we had known as we may have tried to board with a little something in our pockets. But no worries – not a single piece of kibble was left behind.

At 8:30pm they had their last potty break before bedtime and very few dogs did any business. Apparently it takes a few days before the ‘regular’ toilet habits get back to normal. We met all the owners by the end of the day and we had a total of 17 dogs and 3 cats on board.

A few tips for embarkation:

  1. Bring a dish and bottles of water for while you wait. We waited about 1 hr+ in the terminal before embarking (we were already through security so couldn’t leave for a walk about or go off site).
  2. The earliest you could check-in was 12pm (so it was communicated). We arrived at 12:15pm and the line up was thick, and about 6-7 dog families had already arrived. Some people think it’s better to arrive early, in case there is any need for a last minute visit to the Vet, you have time to hop in a taxi and get back in time for the 6:00pm sailing. Others feel it’s better to check-in later, so your dog doesn’t have to wait as long. We opted for the first suggestion.
  3. Bring some treats.
  4. Have all your paperwork for your pets (and yourselves) at-the-ready and not buried in a backpack somewhere.
  5. Use the time in the Terminal while you wait to get to know the other dogs and owners. You’ll be seeing alot of each other during the next week.

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 Three of Four’, I will describe how the dogs did during the journey.

In ‘Dogs on the QM2 – Part Four of Four’, I will describe the disembarkation process and how our dogs did after getting off the ship.