Overnight ferry with dog - is that a good idea?
A 16-hours trip from Amsterdam to Newcastle
Dog on Board
The easiest and most comfortable way to travel with a dog from the continent to the UK is undoubtedly a trip through the Eurotunnel. On board you remain inside your car together with your dog until you reach Folkstone a bit more than half an hour later. However, as our destination is up in the north of the UK, we chose to take the ferry from Amsterdam to Newcastle. For us humans this crossing is super comfortable, as you board the ferry at 5 pm and arrive at 9 am after a good night’s sleep. For the dog, however, it means 16 hours on board a ship on which dogs are generally not allowed, except in specially designated areas. There’s a small room with a kind of sandbox that serves as a dog’s loo, which Nanook disgusted so much that he could not be persuaded to put in even one paw, let alone do his business in it. At the back of this small room, there is a door that leads to the deck, but again, dogs are only allowed in a very small area of about three to four square meters.
There are three ways to accommodate the dog while on board: The best option is to book a pet cabin to take the dog with you. Of these, there are only six on each ferry and in high season these cabins are very sought after. For the outward journey, it was impossible for us to get one of these cabins. The second possibility is the accommodation in the so-called dog hotel, a room with several dog kennels, which can be rented for the crossing. Even the ferry staff advises against the accommodation in the dog hotel, as it means great stress for the dog to be locked in an unfamiliar box next to other foreign dogs without their guardian. The third option is the accommodation in the car on the car deck. The dog stays in the car during the crossing, but you can visit your dog at any time and several times, take him around on the car deck, feed him, etc., and also pay a visit to the infamous sandbox. The temperature on the car deck is ok, we left the windows, the roof and the tailgate open a crack and prepared a cozy dog bed for Nanook in the back seat.
Is it a good idea?
In my opinion, for an adult dog, who has no problems with being alone and feels comfortable in the car, the long crossing is ok. With a very young, old, sick or anxious dog, I would always prefer the drive through the Channel Tunnel. By the way, Nanook could not be persuaded to do his business on the ferry for the total time of 17 hours. When we looked for him at seven in the morning, he slept, but the exhausting night was clearly written on his face. I am glad that we were able to get one of the pet cabins for the return trip.
As soon as you have checked in on the ferry, you can ask at the front desk to be put on a waiting list for one of the pet cabins, in the event that somebody cancelled at short notice.