Assistance dogs

P&O cruises accepts registered assistance dogs on board that have been specifically trained to assist a person with a disability and has been certified by an organisation that is a full member of Assistance Dogs International (ADI) or International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF), the accrediting bodies for assistance dog organisations worldwide. 

Requirements for assistance dogs

Carriage of an assistance dog is subject to the conditions set by DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs). Please refer to the DEFRA website for the most up to date information.

As the DEFRA requirements are different from other forms of travel, it is essential owners understand the conditions that the dog must travel under.

Due to national regulations in certain ports, guests with assistance dogs may be required to remain on board.

If you intend to travel with an assistance dog, please notify us in advance and at least 48 hours prior to departure.

We can only accept assistance dogs that are fully trained and unable to allow emotional support dogs or any other animal to travel. Emotional support dogs are not recognised as an assistance dog by the above organisations and are not permitted on board. All assistance dogs are carried free of charge.

Once your booking has been made and your paperwork has been checked, all DEFRA conditions have been met and you have completed and signed P&O Cruises terms and conditions, we will send you a confirmation letter.  This letter confirms your Assistance Dog has been given permission to travel and must be produced at check-in. Failure to produce this letter may result in your Assistance Dog being denied boarding. We would also advise all owners to carry their dog's identification card, or similar, with them at all times in case local authorities require proof.

If we do not receive a completed and signed copy of P&O Cruises terms and conditions we regret we are unable to allow your dog to travel

Tapeworm treatment

In order to return to the UK your assistance dog is required to undertake tapeworm treatment 24 – 120 hours (1 -5 days) prior to arrival into Southampton. This treatment will need to be carried out by an authorised veterinarian in the necessary port of call which meets the above timescales. We ask owners to select their itinerary carefully as on occasion ports of call may be missed and replaced or cancelled for reasons beyond P&O Cruise's control.

Owners are responsible for locating a vet and ensuring the correct treatment has been carried out as well as the PETS Passport being updated correctly.

It is the responsibility of the owner to research their itinerary in full and to ensure a local veterinarian can administer the required tapeworm treatment at the appropriate time. Please note that if your last port of call falls on a weekend or bank holiday and if the tapeworm treatment can be administered within DEFRA guidelines at the penultimate port of call we would suggest making arrangements for the treatment to be carried out here.

On occasion ports of call may be missed and replaced or cancelled for reasons beyond P&O Cruise’s control. We would therefore advise you to check your itinerary carefully in order to ensure the tapeworm treatment can be offered in more than one port of call and within DEFRA's timing guidelines to re-enter the UK

Should the tapeworm treatment not be carried out or the documentation is incorrect your dog may be placed into quarantine on your return to Southampton.

Should your chosen itinerary be of 2/3 or 4 nights in duration, the tapeworm treatment can be carried out on the morning of embarkation by an authorised veterinarian and your dog is able to disembark at EU ports of call.

We currently do not offer the service of a vet on board any of our ships and the ship's doctors are unable to assist should your dog be taken ill on board.  Therefore, it is imperative that you consult your vet prior to your cruise for advice to ensure your dog is fit to travel.  It may be a good idea to talk to your vet regarding motion sickness.

Harness/ leash

Your dog must wear its harness at all times when not in the cabin. Due to the nature of cruising we are unable to provide a safe off leash area for assistance dogs.

Food & Bedding

Please ensure that you bring a suitable supply of all dry dog food, food and water bowls plus any applicable blankets/bedding.

Dogs can only be fed in the cabin and under no circumstance should your dog be fed 'tit-bits' in any public areas.

We do allow assistance dogs into our buffet restaurants, however your dog must remain at the table. Should you be travelling alone our crew will be happy to assist you with food selection and carry your tray back to the table.

Dog toileting

The ship will provide a wooden 4ft x 4ft box that will be filled with wood shavings (sawdust).  Your cabin location will determine exactly where the litter box will be placed and we will endeavour to ensure that this is as close to your cabin as possible without compromising safety.

On arrival your cabin steward will show you to the exact location of the relief box, please note litter boxes cannot be placed on cabin balconies or inside the cabin itself.

We would ask owners to clean up after their dog and our ships staff will advise you once you are on board where to dispose of your dog's waste. The box will be emptied and replenished by the staff on board every day.

On your cruise

Check In

Once you have presented your confirmation letter to our check-in staff a member of the ship's crew will check your Assistance Dogs paperwork. Providing this is satisfactory you will then be escorted through security to board the ship. Your cabin steward will lead you to the relief area and arrange for your dog's food to be stored, if necessary.

Travelling alone

We do not enforce that an assistance dog owner should travel with a companion provided they are able to undertake day-to-day tasks independently.

Our crew members cannot assist with any day to day personal care tasks. Should it become apparent that during the cruise you are not managing independently, we reserve the right to refuse future travel unaccompanied.

Disembarkation in ports of call

It is the responsibility of the owner to research each country's individual regulations, including re-entry to the UK, in order to go ashore with their Assistance Dog.

P&O Cruises cannot be held responsible should your dog be denied entry upon disembarkation in Southampton for not following DEFRA regulations.

If travelling to Mexico dogs must have had an ecto-parasite and endo-parasite treatment applied no more than 15 days prior to arrival to port, this information should be included in the health certificate.

Accessible areas of the ship

Assistance dogs are welcome in all areas of the ship apart from:

  • Designated children’s areas
  • Swimming pools
  • The “Beach Area” surrounding the pool (where water may flow freely in and out of the pool)
  • Jacuzzis
  • Crew areas (unless the spending area is located here and only with assistance)
  • Galley visits


Owners are required, when using the buffet area, to leave their dog at the table for health and safety reasons. Our staff will assist you with food selection and carrying your tray should you be travelling alone.

Your assistance dog must remain with you at all times.

Vet on board

We currently do not offer the service of a vet on board any of our ships and the ship's doctors are unable to assist should your dog be taken ill on board.  Therefore, it is imperative that you consult your vet prior to your cruise for advice to ensure your dog is fit to travel.  It may be a good idea to talk to your vet regarding motion sickness. 

Fly Cruises

Our ships are only permitted to carry Assistance Dogs on itineraries that start and finish in Southampton and therefore we are unable to accept an assistance dog on a Caribbean or Fly-Med cruise. 

World Cruises

You may bring your assistance dog on a full world cruise, if you are embarking and disembarking in Southampton and providing your embarkation and disembarkation point is in Southampton, you have researched which countries fall within the DEFRA guidelines and checked the various countries' individual regulations, however if you are only doing a sector of a world cruise, we would be unable to allow your dog on board.