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Dogs on the Ferry

Cheshire, UK
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Dogs on the Ferry

After a magnificant trip this year to Orkney, we are planning Shetland for 2013, travelling from Aberdeen to Lerwick with Northlink.

We have two large dogs who have a very large and comfortable space that is almost their second home in the back of our LWB Landrover.

The ONLY advantage to the onboard kennels is the chance of getting them out for a wee. BUT (1) I'm not sure they'd be happy in a kennel (coming from a rescue centre they find that sort of environment very stressful). (2) I am also not sure they would be very keen on weeing on a boat anyway - they're so used to grass.

Any advice from fellow travellers who've travelled with dogs on this route?

Edited: 27 July 2012, 12:31
england
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1. Re: Dogs on the Ferry

not sure how long the trip takes to Shetland , so can only give my thoughts on England/Ireland, I think animals are generally happier in their own vehicles with their own smells and blankets, and you dont know what they can pick up in hastily hosed down kennels, the only downside is that if they are sick they're sick on your stuff.

Lerwick, United...
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2. Re: Dogs on the Ferry

Hi from Shetland.

As you probably know, the boat from Aberdeen to Lerwick takes 12 hours overnight (around 14 hours if its one of the nights it goes through Kirkwall). The kennel facilities are good, but you need to be aware that you don't have unlimited access to your dogs throughout the voyage - if you want to go to the kennels to check on your dogs, or take them for a walk on the outer deck, you have to ask at Reception and a crew member will accompany you to the kennels. If your dogs are fine in the car, then I would be inclined to leave them there in familiar surroundings. Again, you can't just go to the car-deck at anytime to check on them (though you could always ask at Reception if anyone was available to accompany you) so you need to be confident they will be OK for 12 hours or so. Any concerns, give Northlink a ring - they are very helpful. Enjoy planning your visit - Shetland is magnificent too - and very different to Orkney.

england
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3. Re: Dogs on the Ferry

having seen dogs on the Swansea/Cork ferry (also 12 hours plus) I would say dont do it, its not fair on animals who dont know where they are going, why not go to the Hebrides instead.

Lerwick, United...
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4. Re: Dogs on the Ferry

I'd agree that animals on a ferry don't know where they are going - I'm quite sure my dog doesn't know if she's in Lerwick, Kirkwall or Aberdeen! However, I know quite a few folk who, like me, take their dogs on the boat fairly regularly, and in my experience most dogs travel well whether in the car or in the kennels. So I hope potential visitors with dogs won't be put off by the length of the boat trip.

Cheshire, UK
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5. Re: Dogs on the Ferry

I am sure my dogs will love Shetland and the Outer Hebrides and I intend to let them experience many of Scotlands Isles in their turn. They have already enjoyed Skye, Arran and Orkney in the last three years.

I can't speak for other people's dogs, but I can tell you what I know about my own: They do love their car! To them it means one thing - that they are going where we are going! In that sense, on the ferry, they will know precisely where they are going even if they can't name it as a geographical location.

At the moment I am minded to let them stay in the car on the ferry. I guess that if the ferry is due to call at Kirkwall then I can access them then and take them for a wander where the kenneled dogs are allowed to go?

Lerwick, United...
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6. Re: Dogs on the Ferry

Hi again

If you are thinking of taking a sailing that comes through Kirkwall, then do please check with Northlink as to whether they would let you exercise your dogs then during the short time the boat is in Kirkwall. The boat gets in to Kirkwall (from Aberdeen) at about 11 pm and has a quick turnaround - about an hour - when it discharges vehicles and passengers getting off there, and takes on vehicles and passengers who are travelling on up to Lerwick. Its a busy time for the crew, especially on the car-deck - so do check if they would permit you access to your car & the dogs. The other thing of course would be to select a sailing which comes straight up to Lerwick from Aberdeen. That way, you leave Aberdeen at 7 pm and get into Lerwick at around 7 am the next morning. Obviously, you have to be at the Northlink terminal n Aberdeen well before the boat sails, but you should be driving off in Lerwick at around 7.30 the next morning. I could suggest some places to go to close by to give the dogs a run - but maybe that can wait for another post!

Cheshire, UK
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7. Re: Dogs on the Ferry

Thanks, I'd appreciate that advice both for Aberdeen and for Lerwick.

London, United...
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8. Re: Dogs on the Ferry

I am also looking into going from Aberdeen to Lerwick on the ferry with my Cockerpoo in May 2013. This is to see my husband who will be working over there.

I find it really frustrating that the ferry can't be a bit more dog-friendly. Surely there are loads of people who will choose not to do this journey based on the sole fact that they have to either leave their dog in the car for 12 hours, or leave their dog in a Kennel with restricted access- who leaves there dog in a kennel these days anyway!!! My understanding, after speaking with a staff member, is that access to the kennel may or may not be granted dependent on the ferry staff and how busy they are. It's not humane to leave a dog in an enclosed space without letting them go to the toilet for 12 hours at a time. I want guaranteed access!

On another note- dog friendly accommodation on the islands... hardly any. The islands look incredible but I am so put off by the lack of dog-friendliness. I am planning to go because my husband will be over there and I want to see him, but frankly, I doubt I’ll go back unless the journey can be made easier for dogs. I will stick with CalMac ferries who are very dog friendly.

If anyone has done this journey recently with a dog and has any feedback at all I'd be really grateful.

Edited: 06 February 2013, 13:35
Cheshire, UK
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12 posts
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9. Re: Dogs on the Ferry

I know what you mean about CalMac - people can just take their dogs into the main seating areas (not the cafe areas, obviously). It was nice and relaxed.

Ours will be in the car for the ferry crossings (14 hours on the way out as they are stopping at Orkney!) We go in about 6 weeks so we will post about the experience afterwards if it's any help. Yes, we also had problems finding dog friendly accommodation. Orkney wasn't much better (but superb in the end). It was easier in the end because we weren't trying to find something in a specific location. We are off to Saxa Vord at the top of Unst and also near Spiggie toward the South of Mainland. Again, will post impressions later.

London, United...
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10. Re: Dogs on the Ferry

Thanks, any experience would be really helpful.

Have you decided to leave your dogs in the car? I know what you mean about being happy in the car- Wulfric has always been happy to sleep in the car since he was 7 weeks old (Up-side-down with legs in the air!) I think he'd be happier there.

Have a good trip and I hope it all goes well! :)

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