The furry stowaway discovered onboard Royal Caribbean International’s Ovation of the Seas in late October has a new family and a new home for the holidays.
After some protracted work with animal import authorities, the oceangoing cat, now named Ovie, has been adopted by a Royal Caribbean guest service team member in Florida.
Unexpected Cat on Ovation of the Seas Gets New Home
In October, as Ovation of the Seas was finishing a one-way, 19-night cruise from Honolulu, Hawaii to Sydney, Australia, a cat was discovered onboard, with no proper biosecurity clearance for the international sailing.
The animal caused quite a sensation for both the New Zealand authorities who discovered him as well as crew members who hadn’t known about the cat’s presence onboard.
Now, however, Ovie has a new home – halfway around the world from where he was discovered. Royal Caribbean International President and CEO recently gave an update on Ovie via social media, confirming the cat’s return to the US and his newly adopted status.
“Meet Ovie! The cat smuggled onboard Ovation of the Seas by a guest,” Bayley said, sharing a photo of the traveling feline.
“When discovered the cat was not allowed off the ship in Australia or New Zealand by authorities and was supposed to be euthanized, 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.”
It is believed the cat originated from Arizona, though the cruise line has not commented on this. From Arizona first to Honolulu to board Ovation of the Seas, then to New Zealand, and then to Miami, this well-traveled feline has more than 16,000 miles (25,800 kilometers) under his paws.
How Ovie Came to Set Sail
When New Zealand authorities inspected Ovation of the Seas prior to her arrival – a standard practice – the cat was discovered in a guest’s cabin. While the guest has not been identified and no charges are known to have been pressed against the passenger for violating live animal import regulation, the cat was quarantined by authorities in Lyttelton, New Zealand, on November 18.
At that time, Royal Caribbean International assumed responsibility for the animal’s expenses and its eventual return to the US, once the quarantine period ended and the cat was able to be safely transported. Quarantines are commonplace for any live animals crossing international borders to ensure no infectious diseases or unwanted pests are transported along with the animal.
To legally import a cat to New Zealand – where Ovation of the Seas visited prior to finishing her cruise in Australia – travelers must apply for permission to import the animal and meet strict requirements, including having an approved microchip implanted, meet minimum age requirements, have specific veterinary clearances, and follow other travel guidelines.
Ovie had none of this, as the animal was smuggled aboard the cruise ship without proper permission.
“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,” explained Bayley.
It is unlikely that Ovie was smuggled aboard the ship in any luggage, since both carry-on bags as well as luggage turned over to porters is screened before being permitted on the ship, and the cat’s skeletal structure would have stood out in security imaging.
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If the animal was hidden in a bulky sweatshirt, however, the guest wearing that sweatshirt could have walked through the metal detector without difficulty if the cat was not wearing a metal collar or identification tags that would have set off the alarm.
As most cats don’t necessarily tolerate such confinement for long, the idea that Ovie may have been sedated is a good assumption, but has not been confirmed. While Royal Caribbean does welcome appropriately documented service animals onboard, pets are not permitted to set sail.
As the cat has returned to the US and taken up residence in the Sunshine State, he would be in good health and ready to celebrate the holidays as an honorary Royal Caribbean International crew member.