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Taking the Ferry from Nova Scotia to Nfld with 2 dogs

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Toronto, Canada
posts: 21
Taking the Ferry from Nova Scotia to Nfld with 2 dogs


I was planning to drive from Ontario to Newfoundland for Sept 1 2012. I have a large truck (Chevy Tahoe) and two large dogs (GSD and Doberman). I am told that to board the ferry I must either leave my dogs in my truck (which I cannot visit during the voyage) or bring airline approved kennels on board and leave them in a kennel room.

My dogs are crate trained, but the stress of being in a room full of dogs for 6 hours concerns me so my preferred option would be to leave them in vehicle - but I wonder if it would be safe. I have never left my dogs in a vehicle for that long unattended.

Has anyone taken the ferry with dogs . I could flip the back seat down and have water for them.


Scunthorpe, United...
posts: 3,582
1. Re: Taking the Ferry from Nova Scotia to Nfld with 2 dogs

If you haven't already found this thread, you may find the information about the ferry useful;


Toronto, Canada
posts: 21
2. Re: Taking the Ferry from Nova Scotia to Nfld with 2 dogs

Thanks - I called Marine Atlantic before I posted - they are very clear that on the 6 hour ride (from Sydney) you cannot visit your dog in the vehicle yet reading that thread, one poster claims they did just that when they got on the boat . Interesting.

My truck is spacious and my dogs are accustomed to road travel and short stints left alone in it while I shop but 6 hours is a LONG time and the waves and roll of the boat may stress them.

I honestly don`t know whether I should just plan to go to BC instead or perhaps NB and NS and skip Nfld. I have no way of conditioning my dogs in advance - beyond perhaps a short ferry ride to Toronto Island - but that is 15 minutes.

posts: 1,584
reviews: 16
3. Re: Taking the Ferry from Nova Scotia to Nfld with 2 dogs

You could try the ferry from Tobermory to Manitoulin Island and back. It's a 2 hour ride one way.

St. John's, Canada
posts: 106
reviews: 2
4. Re: Taking the Ferry from Nova Scotia to Nfld with 2 dogs

Yes, I was the poster who visited my dog when we crossed over 4 years ago. First off, I would like to mention that I took the longer ferry ride, from North Sydney to Argentia. Secondly, the ferries are new (to us) so they might be stricter on their regulations. They may not want the animals doing their business on the decks. I don't know.

The safest bet would be to go by what Marine Atlantic says on their website.

Toronto, Canada
posts: 21
5. Re: Taking the Ferry from Nova Scotia to Nfld with 2 dogs

Sparkle: When I called Newfoundland tourism they directed me to Marine Atlantic for specifics but in passing did mention that taking the longer voyage (14 or more hours) would mean dogs could be checked on in the car.

When I called Marine Atlantic, they CLAIMED the reason people could not check on their dogs on the 6 hour journey was because there is a risk to passengers - WHAT RISK - and further, if its risky on a 6 hour voyage why is is not risky on a 14 hour trip.

Its completely illogical. And very frustrating - it means I will cancel my trip to Nfld.

I`ve thought more on this since I first posted, and cannot imagine how this could be safe for any dog. Ironically, here in Ontario I would likely be charged for animal abuse if I left my dogs unattended in my vehicle for 6 hours because even in cooler weather the internal temperature of a car can heat up considerably and if my two large dogs begin barking or get anxious (from the boat rolling around in bad weather), their body heat in a small space will send the temperature soaring. Even with the windows rolled down 2 inches in the late fall (November) I have had condensation build up on the windows from my dogs barking when I left them in my truck for a few minutes while I ran an errand. And I have a BIG SUV. AND it was in the low teens.

What would people do in July - a temperature of mid 20`s outside is much much warmer inside a car or truck. Its bizarre.

I am considering writing Marine Atlantic but figure its a waste of energy. Clearly animal welfare is not their priority and I won`t risk arriving back to my truck after 6 hours to find my dogs dead from heat stroke.

What a fickle world.

Edited: 7:10 pm, February 02, 2012
Barrie, Canada
posts: 692
reviews: 88
6. Re: Taking the Ferry from Nova Scotia to Nfld with 2 dogs

I'm not trying to sound rude or uncaring but you could consider boarding your dogs in Ontario or perhaps in Nova Scotia while you visit Newfoundland. I can't imagine that you'd find many (if any) hotels or bed & breakfasts that would rent to you and your large dogs. Depending upon what your actual plans are while visiting NL you're going to end up leaving your dogs in your vehicle anyway for some periods of time. Restaurants, etc., won't allow your pets in so they will have to be kept someplace, likely in your vehicle.

I think if you investigate you'll find that most ferries company world-wide do not allow passengers on vehicle decks during crossings. My understanding is that this common practice/policy. Check out the policy for any of the Dover-Calais ferries or Hull-Rotterdam ferries in Europe or the BC Ferries. Pets must be kept in the vehicle for the entire duration of the voyage or in onboard kennels at a cost to the pet owner.

Also check out the MS Chi-Cheemaun in Ontario - same rules - from their website:

"no one is allowed on the automobile deck when the ship is sailing, your pet will be unattended"

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for Vancouver
posts: 30,151
reviews: 37
7. Re: Taking the Ferry from Nova Scotia to Nfld with 2 dogs

The same rules apply for the ferries out in BC.

The muster stations are above deck, the lifeboats are above deck, orders for evacuation are done above deck. In the event of an emergency (think the Costa Concordia) crew go immediately to the muster stations with the intent of saving lives. All hands on deck. The Captain would never unnecessarily risk the crew''s lives or other passengers' lives for an unnecessary search of the car deck for passengers. Passenger safety is a first priority not animal welfare. Sinking and drowning is the "risk to passengers." A fickle world? Yeah that must be it.

Gros Morne National...
posts: 250
reviews: 249
8. Re: Taking the Ferry from Nova Scotia to Nfld with 2 dogs

The ferry will let you bring your own kennells on board @ 15.00$ each or you can leave them in the vehicle, which is what we do with our three dogs.You will not be allowed back to you car untill the ferry docks.Why do the long sailing do the 6-7 hour sydney to port of basgue and then drive.Bring your pets in a kennel on board if your that is what your worried about . Marine atlantic carrys thousands of pets every year, the size of these boats will surprize you and are safe but this not like going over the vancouver island. The gulf can get very nasty.Leave your windows slightly cracked and in the summer ask for a outside deck in the winter ask for a inside deck. The temp like you say in mid 20s in July now subtract 5-10c for being out on the open gulf.Like I said thousands of dogs make the trip every year safely and yours will be no diffrent.The other issue which you dont mention is where are you planning on staying with the dogs B&B's wont take you,most hotels/motels wont. I travel with three dogs for 5 months a year this will be a issue for you in Newfoundland not the ferry.

Toronto, Canada
posts: 21
9. Re: Taking the Ferry from Nova Scotia to Nfld with 2 dogs

At Gutch, I have no desire to board my dogs. Its not being rude - its just not being helpful. And I had hoped to canoe and camp in Gros Morne - not much for the touristy spots. And I had called Newfoundland Tourism in December to inquire about bringing dogs and was told it would not be a problem. However I cannot see my way past the ferry - the dogs will overheat in the vehicle - particularly the GSD - even with temps in the low teens and the windows down 2 inches ....and transporting two large dogs across the deck with kennels - not sure how I would do that.

As far as thousands of dogs -well I read the linked post - and it hardly paints a picture of comfort - jamming a giant Great Dane in a small crate - having dogs locked in the kennels covered in puke and feces and not allowed to let them out.

Hardly my idea of a vacation.

I made other plans.

To Muxti - whatever your name is: Obviously people come first. (duh) BUT if you can let people check on your dogs several times in a 15 hour trip - why not let them check at least once on a 6 hour. THAT was my point.

Edited: 8:15 am, February 03, 2012
Barrie, Canada
posts: 692
reviews: 88
10. Re: Taking the Ferry from Nova Scotia to Nfld with 2 dogs

Girlwith2K9s - perhaps not helpful, but it was one possible solution to your problem.

With the temperatures that are likely in early September, especially out on the open gulf, I find it unlikely that your pets would overheat if the windows were left open an inch or two. It is not warm, especially once out on the gulf. Average September daily temperature for Port-aux-Basques (where the ferry lands in NL) is 11.6C with an average high of 15C and an average low of 8C (from the Weather Network website). The average September daily temperature for North Sydney (where the ferry leaves NS) is 15.2C with an average high of 19C and an average low of 11C. It will definitely be cooler than that on the gulf. As Greyhoundlover pointed out, there are literally thousands of pets that make that crossing each year, in all seasons.

Regardless of where you decide to travel I truly wish you a good vacation. It's unfortunate that you have chosen not to visit Newfoundland, but I'm sure you will find other great places in Canada to visit. If the east coast of Canada is to your liking I can highly recommend Cape Breton, another wonderful, beautiful place. My partner and I thoroughly enjoyed our trip in Cape Breton and you and your pets likely would also. The highlands are definitely worth a visit.

Again, not to sound rude but I can only wonder how you will ever visit places outside of Canada - Europe, the Caribbean, Mexico, etc. - if you ever choose to without boarding your pets. For sure you won't be visiting your pets in the luggage compartment of an airplane.