Carnival Cruise Line Clarifies Service Dog Policy

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In response to guest comments, Carnival Cruise Line brand ambassador John Heald has offered some guidance on service dogs onboard, including where the dogs are permitted and what types of service dogs can set sail on the Fun Ships.

Guest Questions Service Dog

On a recent sailing of Carnival Horizon, currently based out of Miami and offering a range of Caribbean itineraries, a service dog was aboard that raised some questions from a concerned guest about the dog’s breed and whether it was legitimately a service dog.

“There was a visually impaired man on our Horizon cruise with a service dog. I have never seen a Giant Poodle dog. I have never heard of these being used as seeing eye dogs,” the guest explained.

“The man was seen playing slot machines in the casino,” the inquiry continued. “My point is dogs should not be allowed to be on board especially in public places like the casino and main dining hall. What checks does Carnival do to make sure this was a real seeing eye dog?”

Fortunately, Carnival Cruise Line brand ambassador John Heald was able to quickly and firmly address these concerns. He first noted that the cruise line does check into service dog requests very thoroughly.

“The only dogs Carnival permits aboard our ships are working service dogs, which are legally defined and individually trained to meet disability-related needs by performing tasks like guiding a blind person, alerting a deaf person, pulling wheelchairs, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, or performing other special tasks,” Heald explained. “Working service dogs are not pets.”

Dog On Cruise Ship
Dog on Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Zivica Kerkez)

Any breed of dog can be trained as a service dog, and there are different sizes of poodles recognized by dog breeding and kennel club organizations around the world. All poodles are highly intelligent, affectionate, and easy to train, making them an ideal choice as service dogs.

All service dogs are highly trained for individual tasks, as Heald explained. Each individual’s needs will vary, and it may not be immediately apparent what tasks a dog is trained to assist with. There is no single organization that “certifies” service dogs, nor is there any standardized paperwork for any type of service animal.

Carnival’s website does distinguish that “Emotional support dogs, which are not recognized by the US Department of Justice, are also not permitted on Carnival ships.”

Where Can Service Dogs Go Onboard?

Heald also addressed where service dogs are permitted onboard Carnival ships. In short, a service dog will be permitted anywhere guests are permitted.

“We are proud to be able to say that along with following ADA requirements that we love having these guests on board, because they deserve to have Fun as much as anyone… Even more perhaps,” Heald commented. “The dogs are allowed in the dining room. They are allowed in the casino.”

Carnival Cruise Line’s Guests With Disabilities website does cover service dogs, noting that service dogs that are still in training are not permitted.

Carnival Cruise Line Dog VIFP
Photo Courtesy: Carnival Cruise Line

Different ports of call may also have strict entry requirements or limitations for animals, including service dogs, and guests are responsible to meet the requirements of any port if they will want to debark the ship with their service dog.

Onboard, a relief area will be set up for service dogs in an out-of-the-way area using dog litter. Guests can also bring along a different type of litter material if preferred.

When a Service Dog Is Onboard

When travelers realize their cruise includes a four-legged guest, it is important to note that disabilities come in many different forms and degrees, and it is always inappropriate to question whether or not a service dog is necessary or permitted.

Read Also: Carnival Cruise Line Awards Top Tier Status to Service Dog

The cruise line has done the work to ensure the animal is permitted, and has made the necessary accommodations as needed. If there are any concerns, they should be politely and discreetly addressed with the Guest Services team.

At all times, it is important to treat everyone onboard – guests, crew members, and service animals alike – with respect and dignity, on every cruise.

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