Royal Caribbean Bans Emotional Support Animals on Board

Aug 15, 2018

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

As of Tuesday, cruisegoers will no longer be able to bring their emotional support animals on board Royal Caribbean cruise ships. The cruise line is still honoring passenger reservations with emotional support animals that were booked before July 30, but future itineraries will no longer accommodate pets other than trained service animals.

“We are updating the policy to differentiate emotional support animals from service animals that are trained and certified to perform a function for a person with a disability,” a spokeswoman for Royal Caribbean said. “It is important to us that all our guests enjoy their vacation, which is why we put into practice this new policy. Royal Caribbean’s policy remains the same for service animals traveling with guests that have a physical or non-physical disability.”

Although Chris Gray Faust, the managing editor of travel website Cruise Critic, told MarketWatch that Royal Caribbean’s ban appears to be one of the first cruise line policies to actively prohibit emotional support animals, TPG found that many major cruise lines already prohibit animals other than licensed service dogs on board. Carnival, Princess, Celebrity and Norwegian already forbid emotional support animals, per their respective websites. Other cruise line pet policies can be found on the All Things Cruise website, which offers guidelines for dozens of additional cruise lines.

For the most part, “cruise lines have quite strict animal guidelines,” Faust said, “only allowing service and support animals onboard most lines. Cunard Line, a subsidiary of Carnival Cruises, is a notable exception: The cruise line offers kennels onboard for pet owners to use during their travels. But it won’t be cheap to sail with your fur-babies: Cunard kennel fees start at $800, and the expenses for cats, which require two kennels – one for the litter box – start at $1600.

The change went into effect the same day that Southwest publicly tightened its previously open policy on emotional support animals. As of Tuesday, the only approved animal species allowed on board are emotional support cats and dogs with the appropriate paperwork, or trained service dogs, cats and miniature horses. A number of other airlines, including United, Delta, American, Alaska, and JetBlue, have also updated their policies in 2018 following various fiascos involving hamsters, peacocks and more.

Emotional support animals and travel have seen growing friction recently after travelers have increasingly abused the privilege. “It’s a topic that is quite contentious among travelers, due to logistical issues and the lines’ otherwise tight guidelines regarding animals onboard,” Faust said. “With policies continuing to change throughout the travel industry — whether by air, land or sea — it’s more important than ever to familiarize yourself with the guidelines of your travel company of choice to ensure you’re booking with a company that can best meet your needs.”

But despite the restrictions, travelers will always be able to bring appropriate emotional support animals on planes due to the Air Carrier Access Act, which has a provision allowing passengers to travel with animal that meet airline requirements, possess proper documentation and do not pose a danger to themselves, their owners or to other travelers.

Featured image by Horacio Villalobos – Corbis/Getty Images.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.