Dog owners in the north of England (and South of Scotland) rejoice. DFDS have taken the bold step of introducing dog friendly cabins. So what better reason to make a trip to Europe!
Last year I wrote about our experiences on DFDS ferries from Newcastle to Amsterdam. Overall, we were very happy with the ferry, but like the majority of UK ferry companies, it was lacking that one crucial thing - pet friendly cabins. Fortunately, this year DFDS have seen the light.
True, the cabins were not the most luxurious on the ship, certainly not as refined as the Commodore class cabins we enjoyed last year, but quite frankly I’d be happy to sleep in the kennels if it meant not having to leave Falco during the crossing, writes Paul Wojnicki.
Luckily, the cabins are far more comfortable than the kennels and all basic needs were attended to with four comfy bunk beds, guaranteed sea view and a functional bathroom. My wife Alena and I took it in turns to explore the ship’s excellent kids’ facilities (and the odd bar or two) while the other kept Falco company in the cabin.
He was allowed out of the cabin for fresh air (and to do his business) at any point during the journey, though we were to find out on the return leg that the sister ship didn’t allow this without being accompanied by a steward. So, for now, I’d try to book on the King Seaways ship rather than Princess Seaways if I were you.
It was a massive relief to have Falco in the cabin with us, and I’ll be honest, he seemed relieved himself when we turned left into the cabin rather than continuing to the 'Dog Hotel'. Our two year old daughter, Ella, was happy to have him keep us company too since they’ve taken to sleeping together most nights. He’s warmer than a teddy bear for certain!
But wait a minute, dog friendly cabins have been around for years, haven’t they?
True, one or two other companies have pet friendly cabins, Brittany’s service to Bilbao and Le Havre and Steam Packet’s service to the Isle of Man.
But this new option is unique in that DFDS allow foot passengers with dogs to reach Europe AND have them in the cabin with them. It also means that dog owners living in the north don’t have to drive for hours on end to reach the southern ports of Dover, Folkestone and Harwich.
Visiting Amsterdam, Paris & Cologne with Your Dog Is a Doddle
Amsterdam isn’t the only city in Holland worth visiting. It’s a great country for dog owners, especially those who don’t like travelling abroad in their car.
The rail system is extensive, relatively cheap and dog tickets last a whole day no matter how many journeys you make, and of course, there’s the fact that Holland has super-fast rail connections to Paris and Germany.
The Thalys train is extremely comfortable, and fast, and will whisk you to Paris via Brussels and Antwerp in around 3 hours, while German rail operator DBahn’s excellent ICE trains make an excellent way of crossing the country quickly and cheaply.
Furthermore, it’s possible to make two free stopovers (up to 48 hours per stop) on your ticket, which means a ticket from Amsterdam to Munich costs around £45 one way and allows you two free city breaks (minus hotel costs) along the way. I’d personally recommend Cologne and the Black Forest for this route and from Munich it’s only an hour’s hop to the Bavarian Alps and Salzburg in Austria!
Article continues below >>
Choosing where to stay in another country with your dog
My favourite hotel group in Europe is the Accor brand, who almost universally accept dogs. Their brands include Novotel, ibis, ibis Budget, Mercure and many others so there's something for all budgets.
If you prefer independent hotels or something a little less chainy then try using the filter options on Trip Advisor or booking.com who both allow searches for dog friendly hotels.
For accommodation with cooking facilities, you might want to consider a holiday rental. HomeAway has a policy of actively targeting dog owners - their YouTube advert actually brings a tear to my eye - and they boast over 180,000 properties in Europe that are willing to consider pets.
How to find your nearest vet when travelling in Europe
When you travel overseas with a dog you're going to need to visit a vet in order to be allowed back again. Current regulations require owners to worm their dogs (with a registered vet) 1-5 days before returning to the UK.
There are two ways you can find a vet. The first of which is to find your destination on Google maps, then use the “Search Nearby” option to find a vet in the area. The second option, of course, is to buy 'France: A Woof Guide' or 'Europe: A Woof Guide' by yours truly, which are both available on Amazon.
Happy travelling, keep reading K9 Magazine and in the coming months, I’ll be writing about the places we visited this summer to give you more inspiration.