A luxury charter yacht that allows dogs is a rarity, but should you find one, your private yacht charter will be a truly memorable experience. Just be sure to consider all of the implications before booking.
If your yachting vacation feels incomplete without the beloved family pet, then the prospect of bringing them on board may be a tempting one. Luckily, there are a select few superyachts that allow dogs on deck, making dog-friendly chartering finally feasible.
But before you call your charter broker, it’s important to consider all of the factors that will affect your yachting experience when you bring your dogs in tow.
Navigating the waters is one thing, but navigating the legalities of importing pets is quite another. At risk of dogs bringing in diseases, different countries have their own laws surrounding pets and their entrance onto foreign soil, but most will require that your dog is microchipped and has the relevant health paperwork.
If a relaxed charter around the Mediterranean is on the cards, then a European Pet Passport holds the key to your dog’s new favourite beach spots from Antibes to Amalfi. The process to obtain one requires blood tests and up-to-date vaccinations for rabies and other diseases.
For entrance to most islands in the Caribbean, pet owners are required to request a pet permit in advance and will be issued one via email based on health tests and certification. One notable exception is the British Virgin Islands, which necessitates a pet permit and a brief examination by a vet, who will meet you on the dock at the port of entry.
If legalities do pose a problem, then you can usually still dock your yacht, but you will have to leave your dog on board.
For dog-owners from overseas visiting America, a certificate proving a recent rabies vaccination is essential. Charterers that wish to visit Australia will need to quarantine their pet upon entry and pay a fee.
Be sure to stock up on medication as other countries require additional Lyme disease and heartworm tests.
Most countries require your dog to have had a rabies vaccination within the past 10 months. If legalities do pose a problem, then you can usually still dock your yacht, but you will have to leave your dog on board.
Dogs are off-putting to yacht owners because they run the risk of ruining the decor. Claws scraping against the decking, the smell of wet dog infusing the upholstery and poorly potty-trained pooches are all enough to persuade yacht owners to demand a security deposit.
But if your dog is the ideal guest, then you can expect your deposit back in full. To ensure that, train your dog to ‘go’ where you tell it. A handy purchase is a patch of artificial grass that will encourage your dog to do their business in one spot. PupHead stocks portable dog potties that absorb liquid and have antibacterial properties that counteract smell.
When visiting beaches, it's a good idea to rinse your dog afterwards to stop any sand or dirt finding its way back to the yacht.
If your pup is set to become a frequent passenger, then obtaining a glowing reference from the owner or the captain could save you from having to pay a deposit in the future.
If you're not convinced you have a strong doggy paddler on board or you're concerned your dog might abandon ship, dog-sized life jackets can be purchased from Ruffwear to give you complete peace of mind as you cruise. They offer shipping to the US and Europe.
Obtaining a glowing reference from the owner or the captain could save you from having to pay a deposit in the future.
Perhaps the most important question you need to ask yourself is whether or not your dog will actually enjoy their charter experience. Be aware that dogs can suffer from motion sickness in the same way that humans do – so even if you’ve got your house training down pat, your dog might still make a mess by being sick.
Dogs can get bored quickly when they’re confined, so it’s important to bring things to entertain them and make sure that if they’re disembarking, they’re allowed to properly stretch their legs and get some exercise. However, be aware that if your dog is not accustomed to warmer climes, they should avoid surfaces that are too hot for their paws and stay hydrated.
An easy way to make sure your dog is getting enough fluids is by investing in a Buddy Bowl. These smartly-designed water bowls are perfect for salty sea dogs as they won't spill when the boat is in transit. Any fluid that does splash out is caught by the sloping sides, greatly reducing the risk of slopping water everywhere. The larger sizes also hold a massive half a gallon of water.
If you’re flying to a destination to board your yacht, be mindful of how your dog will cope with this experience, particularly if they’re not a seasoned flyer.
Dog-friendly yachts for charter
There are several motor yachts for charter which now accept guests with dogs on a case-by-case basis.
The 60m/97ft motor yacht KATINA built by Brodosplit sleeps 12 guests and boasts impressive leisure and entertainment facilities, making it perfect for chartering with friends and family. She has on-board water toys including water-skis, a sea-scooter and a hoverboard.
The 43m/141ft motor yacht BINA also allows pets. She was delivered in 2006 by Mondo Marine and underwent a refit in 2015. Similarly to KATINA, she was built with the needs of families in mind and offers a large water slide, a jet-ski, paddleboards and a windsurf as well as towable toys and water-skis.
Benetti's 37m/121ft superyacht EDESIA is another dog-friendly charter option. She is a 2014 build that sleeps 12 and has a spacious social area, an on-deck jacuzzi and a luxe interior.
Dog-owners who wish to charter any of these luxury yachts must provide information about the dog’s breed and weight, as well as the assurance that the dog is strictly house-trained.
Bringing your dog with you on a chartered yacht can be an incredible experience. Your dog will discover the rugged beaches of Croatia and soak up the sun by your side in St. Lucia. So if you do choose to bring your canine friend along for the ride, you’re set to have a truly family-inclusive holiday that you’ll remember forever.