Jan 112009

An NVRC News reader who is about to take her hearing dog on a cruise for the first time asked for advice. This is a new question for us, so we asked others with assistance dogs for their experiences and advice. We thank Cindy, Linda, Deborah, Kimberly, Marty, Libby, and Moody for their input!

Tips on Hearing Dog Relief Areas on Cruise Ships

  • Notify the cruise line in advance that you are traveling with an assistance dog which will need a relief area
  • Share information about what kind of relief area will work best for your dog
  • Ask for a covered balcony for the relief location
  • If the relief area uses a box with litter, try to pick up the clumped urine before the dog needs to get back into the box again; a wet clump can stick to a dog’s feet like glue
  • Bring your own pick up bags
  • Be prepared to have people ask you, “Where does the dog go potty?” every 15 minutes
  • If you are the first person with a hearing dog, consider allowing for more interaction between crew members and your dog than usually allowed with the public — on your command, of course

Cruise Stories

A service dog partner said that Princess provided a box made of cardboard or wood that was lined with heavy plastic. Dog or cat litter was spread on top of the plastic. Princess has also been known to use wood chips, but this was found to be a poor choice because the chips blow everywhere in the wind.

An individual whose guide dog was the first to go on Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas said they provided a 4′ x 4′ wood box with mulch in it, and a garbage can was placed nearby. The box was located in a crew-only area on an outside deck and was somewhat protected by a half wall.

One ship put a section of artificial turf on a balcony.  It may have been a product such as The Pup-Head(TM) Portable Dog Potty: http://www.pupgearcorporation.com/Products/Pup-Head/Pup-Head-Portable-Dog-Potty_2

Another ship used a litter box filled with wood chips that was placed on one of the decks. One day the sea was rough and that deck was closed. The crew suggested that the dog go in the shower area.

After Boarding the Ship

It often takes a dog a day or two to understand that s/he needs to go in a box. This is true even with some dogs who go on cruises often.  One tactic that could help is to exercise the dog vigorously at a non-busy time of day by going up and down the ship’s stairs and around the deck to “get things working.”  Be armed with paper towels and plastic bags just in case you don’t reach the relief area fast enough.

– Thanks to NVRC, Fairfax