Service Dog Earns 700 Cruise Days With Holland America Line

A black Labrador retriever has enjoyed 700 days aboard Holland America ships and is being celebrated aboard Rotterdam's historic crossing.

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Dogs are well known for their loyalty, and one exceptional service dog has been exceptionally loyal – to Holland America Line.

In fact, Joska the service dog was awarded the cruise line’s highest loyalty recognition on October 26, 2022, for having spent 700 days aboard Holland America ships.

Service Dog Earns Elite Status

Sailing on Rotterdam‘s current 150th Anniversary Transatlantic Crossing from Amsterdam to New York, Joska, a black Labrador retriever and service dog for Cornelia Marinussen, reached 700 days aboard Holland America Line ships and has been awarded the Platinum Medallion, the cruise line’s highest past-guest award for cruising days.

A special ceremony was held onboard Holland America Line’s newest vessel to commemorate the 10-year-old service dog’s achievement, complete with the medallion presentation by Holland America Line President Gus Antorcha and Rotterdam’s Captain Werner Timmers.

“Joska is the first service animal to achieve this lofty status and we wanted to honor her with an event that shows her how special she is to everyone in our company,” said Antorcha.

“Registered service animals are always welcome aboard Holland America Line ships, and Joska has become a member of our family. She not only brightens the spirits of everyone on board, but she also allows Connie to do what she loves most, which is to cruise and explore the world.”

Holland America Line Dog
Photo Courtesy: Holland America Line

Joska was also given several dog-friendly Holland America Line gifts and is now recognized as 5-Star Mariner status, the highest level in the cruise line’s Mariner Society loyalty program.

Joska’s owners, Cornelia and Cornelis Marinussen, have previously earned their own Platinum Medallions, have been cruising with Holland America Line since 2013, and have taken nearly 60 cruises. Joska joined the Dutch couple to assist Cornelia, who is legally blind, in 2014, and has been on more than 50 cruises.

Joska’s first cruise was just a week after joining Cornelia, when the couple – and the service dog – took a 14-night Alaskan cruise roundtrip from Seattle. Joska has also been on cruise itineraries around the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, Canada and New England, and more.

This extensive traveling puts Joska as one of the most well-traveled dogs in the world, particularly aboard the 25-night historic crossing the ship is sailing. According to TopDogTips.com, Labrador retrievers are one of the most travel-friendly dog breeds, being quite active, friendly, and highly intelligent.

Rotterdam will complete the voyage on Friday, October 27, 2022, when the ship arrives in New York.

Service Dogs on Cruise Ships

Holland America Line welcomes service animals, defined as those animals specifically trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability.

While all pet owners believe their animals provide service to improve their personal quality of life and well-being, it must be noted that, according to Holland America Line’s policy, “We do not permit our guests to bring pets, therapy/companion animals, and other animals that do not meet the definition of service animals.”

Dog on Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Zivica Kerkez / Shutterstock

Different ports of call in different countries may also have specific requirements for service animals to disembark, including official documentation and appropriate immunizations, and guests are responsible to understand and comply with those requirements.

Service animals on Holland America Line must be current on their vaccinations, and that documentation must be provided to the cruise line in advance.

Guests with service animals can contact the cruise line for details about how to arrange a cruise vacation with their service animal, including what behavioral expectations and care arrangements there are on board.

Other cruise lines have similar guidelines for service animals, and interested travelers should contact their preferred cruise line for details about travel requirements and service animal accommodations.

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