Passenger on Royal Caribbean Brings Cat on Cruise, Chaos Ensues

Anna Garrison - Author

Dec. 28 2023, Published 12:37 p.m. ET

Cat peeking over the side of a ship
Source: iStock

Many would prefer their animal companions to travel the world with them. It's never a fun goodbye when you're off on a vacation that isn't pet-friendly. However, not all furry friends are meant to be traveling partners, especially when transportation like airplane flying stresses animals out.

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After a cat was discovered aboard a cruise ship in December 2023, a conversation about whether or not you could (or should) bring your beloved feline on a cruise surfaced. Here's what you should know about rules and regulations regarding sea travel for cats, plus how the situation with the cruise ship cat turned out.

can you bring a cat on a cruise
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Can you bring a cat on a cruise?

No, you cannot bring a cat on a cruise. Most cruises ban animals, except service animals. For example, cruise line Royal Caribbean's policy states, "Service animals will continue to be welcomed onboard for guests with disabilities. We will no longer have emotional support animals onboard."

Why are animals banned from cruises? There are multiple reasons, the first and most obvious being safety issues if animals are allowed to roam free. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, many countries have strict rules and regulations about animals traveling to prevent the spread of diseases such as rabies.

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According to U.S. Service Animals, animals are banned from cruises because of potential passenger allergies.

At least one cruise has been identified as pet-friendly, but it's probably best for the safety of your feline and other passengers to leave fluffy at home.

Black and white cat sitting on a boat in a boat yard.
Source: iStock
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A pet cat named Ovie was discovered aboard a cruise ship in December 2023.

In December 2023, The New York Post reported that a cat named Ovie was discovered aboard an international Royal Caribbean cruise ship called "Ovation of the Seas." Upon his discovery, the poor cat was almost euthanized, but this story has a happy ending.

Royal Caribbean Cruises president and CEO Michael Bayley, issued a statement on Dec. 22, 2023, on Facebook, about the incident. "Meet Ovie! The cat smuggled onboard Ovation of the Seas by a guest! We believe that it was in the guest’s sweatshirt and we assume he must have been sedated or something and he wouldn’t beep, since Ovie isn’t metal."

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TravelPulse reported that Ovie was discovered by biosecurity agents in New Zealand, who ensured the cat was free of disease and quarantined for the remainder of his trip. Cruise ships are routinely inspected to ensure contraband items or hazards are not present when entering foreign countries.

Thankfully, it's all's well that ends well, as Bayley noted, "Our Guest service team stepped up to the plate and after several weeks and much back and forth safely brought Ovie halfway around the world to be adopted by one of the guest service team members in Miami. Ovie is now happily living in Miami."


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