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Old 13-10-2015, 20:22   #1
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Please help, need help finiding ocean travel!

My mother and I are moving to the Caribbean and we have a problem, we both have large dogs (golden retrievers) and airlines and freighters won't accept us. The outbound US flights are A320s and 737s which won't accept dogs over 70lbs. The shipping freighters, like the one shipping our container, say that US customs of all stupid things prohibits passengers even though we did this about 20 years ago. Cruise ships even won't accept the dogs, only service animals.

We seem to have a real problem. We need to get from Miami (or anywhere in south Florida really) to St Maarten (our destination is Anguilla).

How/where can I find a source for vessels looking for passengers to help offset their travel expenses?

Thanks allot, I really appreciate any help in advance! We are looking at late November.

Alex
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Old 13-10-2015, 21:26   #2
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Re: Please help, need help finiding ocean travel!

I know you checked with some freighters, but some do accept passengers. While they are not geared towards tourists (there are few amenities, you eat in the crew mess, etc.) you will get your own cabin and they are very flexible about dogs as long as you can keep them in cabin except for leashed walks on deck.

Here are sites that help book travel on commercial freighters:

Maris Freighter Cruise and Travel Club -- Around the World Cargo Cruises

Cruising the world by freighter

There are numerous other resources. Google "Traveling on a freighter as a passenger" for more info. It's probably your best bet.

You would need to identify which cargo ships routinely service the islands you want to travel to, and then figure out how to contact them for passenger service. Many more ships have passenger service than register with these agents.

It's very difficult and expensive to charter a crewed vessel to take you there. They do exist, but you'd be looking at a very large expense.

You could potentially bareboat charter a yacht and then separately pay a delivery skipper to take you there. This might actually be the least expensive route. Delivery captains are relatively easy to find, and bareboat charters in the caribbean are very easy to find although they do have numerous restrictions regarding where you can travel.

This would cost you on the order of $1500 per day for the trip there and the same for the delivery captain to return the boat. The trip calculator on Bookings.com reports $9500 in charter and fuel costs for the one-way trip, you would need to double that for the round trip and then add the cost of the delivery captain, at $300 to $500 per day. Figuring 15 days, you'd be upwards of $25,000 total to charter.
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Old 13-10-2015, 21:35   #3
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Re: Please help, need help finiding ocean travel!

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You should consider traveling on a commercial freighter. Many of them accept passengers, and while they are not geared towards tourists (there are few amenities, you eat in the crew mess, etc.) you will get your own cabin and they are very flexible about dogs as long as you can keep them in cabin except for leashed walks on deck.

Here are sites that help book travel on commercial freighters:

Maris Freighter Cruise and Travel Club -- Around the World Cargo Cruises

Cruising the world by freighter

There are numerous other resources. Google "Traveling on a freighter as a passenger" for more info. It's probably your best bet.

You would need to identify which cargo ships routinely service the islands you want to travel to, and then figure out how to contact them for passenger service. Many more ships have passenger service than register with these agents.
If that's an option then great! We have done it before, we couldn't care less about amenities lol.

I'll look into it, I guess the shipping agent was just blowing me off.
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Old 13-10-2015, 22:11   #4
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Re: Please help, need help finiding ocean travel!

There's also this:

Animal Land - Pet Movers: Call 1-877-379-8625
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Old 13-10-2015, 22:14   #5
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Re: Please help, need help finiding ocean travel!

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That's genius! I'll give them a call first thing tomorrow! Thanks!!!
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Old 13-10-2015, 22:15   #6
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Re: Please help, need help finiding ocean travel!

Is the airline telling you the weight restriction of 70 pounds? I ask because often they say that when the real restriction is crate size not weight. Just expect to pay more for a heavy crate. I just move my dog to the Marshall Islands and United is the only airline that services here. The aircraft is a 737 and can only accept crates up to 34 inches tall. The standard crates are 30 inches tall and then jump up to 35 inches. My Chesapeake Bay Retriever is too tall for a 30 inch crate and the 35 inch wont fit through the door. Simple solution was to build a crate that was 33 1/2 inches tall. It has little to do with the weight but the size of the kennel. My dog weighs 130 pounds and while it did cost a lot my dog is here with me.
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Old 13-10-2015, 22:17   #7
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Re: Please help, need help finiding ocean travel!

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Is the airline telling you the weight restriction of 70 pounds? I ask because often they say that when the real restriction is crate size not weight. Just expect to pay more for a heavy crate. I just move my dog to the Marshall Islands and United is the only airline that services here. The aircraft is a 737 and can only accept crates up to 34 inches tall. The standard crates are 30 inches tall and then jump up to 35 inches. My Chesapeake Bay Retriever is too tall for a 30 inch crate and the 35 inch wont fit through the door. Simple solution was to build a crate that was 33 1/2 inches tall. It has little to do with the weight but the size of the kennel. My dog weighs 130 pounds and while it did cost a lot my dog is here with me.
I don't have a crate yet and was waiting to buy a crate for the smallest plane that would take him. They were adamant it was 70lbs no matter what. This came from a travel agent I had work all day and call every airline with outbound US flights from anywhere to St Maarten. Maybe she was full of **** and not asking the right questions, who knows. I'll call and check myself. My dog weighs only 105 and my mom's only 77.
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Old 13-10-2015, 22:24   #8
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Re: Please help, need help finiding ocean travel!

I ran into the same problem. Call the airline directly when dealing with pets. Most airlines actually have a dedicated number for shipping pets as cargo. United has their PetSafe program and they are the ones who helped me figure it out. Unless the airline has a different set of rules the issue was with the crate size not with weight. The 30 Inch crate (500 series) is generally marketed for dogs up to 70 pounds. The 700 series is what most retriever breeds need due to the height. However, the door to a 737 is only 34 inches tall and the 700 series is 35 inches tall. Unfortunately there is no commercially available kennel in between these two. If kennel size is the real issue PM me and I can send you details on how to either shrink a 700 series kennel or build your own our of plywood. The airlines (at least United) had no problem with the kennel and are very used to it since most breeders ship the animals in homemade kennels.

I fully understand your stress as I went through the same thing in March, but I think it is easily solvable.
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Old 14-10-2015, 09:36   #9
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Re: Please help, need help finiding ocean travel!

get a friendly doctor to declare the dogs "emotional stability " service dogs, or words to that effect. That both places you on a disabled list and mandates the airline to allow you your comfort dog. worst case you will have to pay for a second seat so he can sit beside you, and put up with all the kids wanting to pet them
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Old 14-10-2015, 09:39   #10
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Re: Please help, need help finiding ocean travel!

Is it possible to island hop on ferries and buses? Might take a while but would be great fun. All the island I have seen have a ferry to the next island but even if there isn't one a local fisherman would probably day a day charter. I suspect the problem would be getting to the fist island.
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Old 14-10-2015, 12:49   #11
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Re: Please help, need help finiding ocean travel!

We have two Italian Greyhounds (12 pounds) that travel with us on public transportation in the United States. We have not yet tried International travel with our pets.We spent about 3 months in volunteer training to have both of them licensed and insured as Service Dogs that comfort others. Because of the size of your animals, I recommend buying online the Service Dog vests, placing them on your dog, and take some photos. Then try to work with the most helpful airline in your area (probably Southwest) to see if your pups can fly uncrated, but muzzled, in the cabin with you.
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Old 14-10-2015, 15:21   #12
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Re: Please help, need help finiding ocean travel!

From the experience of someone who has done this just to the Pacific instead of the Caribbean there is no need to try to manipulate the system and get a dog "registered" as a service dog. Dogs can travel as cargo and I am sure the travel agent was only quoting the recommended size of dog for a 500 series kennel. My dog weighs 130 pounds and was a total of 260 with the homemade kennel. The issue is that the 700 series kennel which I would suspect would be required for these dogs will not fit through the cargo door of a 737. You just need to reduce the height of the kennel to less than 34 inches or build one that is less than 34 inches. If the dog will fit into a 500 series kennel then there is no problem at all. The only reason the airlines even weigh the dogs is to determine the charge for shipping them. It is done in 50 pound increments and when you break 250 pounds it goes as overweight cargo and the cost really shoots up. Take the dogs to a Pet Shop and see what kennels they will fit in first and then call the airlines directly for pet shipment. You can use a Petmover but they are just going to charge you extra money to do what you can do yourself very easily. Truthfully, the hardest part was making sure all the health paperwork was done correctly and signed in blue. That and finding a Vet that would certify that they applied Frontline to my dogs when no vets use Frontline anymore.
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Old 14-10-2015, 16:49   #13
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Re: Please help, need help finiding ocean travel!

I would contact the airlines that fly there and find out their rules rather than rely on a travel agent. Look up the airport's website and find out all the airlines that fly there.
I would look at the option of going as a passenger on a freighter with the dogs.
I would also check out going on a charter airplane or a private plane although it is probably much more expensive.
Don't forget to find out the rules for pets at your destination. Some places want to quarantine pets for a time.
A vet might be a resource on how to travel with large dogs as well.
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Old 14-10-2015, 17:33   #14
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Re: Please help, need help finiding ocean travel!

+1 on the info below, I just (last week) shipped a 80lb dog internationally. Getting the required blood tests done, having the vet sign the health certificate, getting the import permit, getting APHIS/USDA to certify the health certificate, all within a 10day window (you have to ship within 10 days of the health certificate being certified) was WAY more work then getting the airline to accept him.


Quote:
Originally Posted by AlmostParadise View Post
From the experience of someone who has done this just to the Pacific instead of the Caribbean there is no need to try to manipulate the system and get a dog "registered" as a service dog. Dogs can travel as cargo and I am sure the travel agent was only quoting the recommended size of dog for a 500 series kennel. My dog weighs 130 pounds and was a total of 260 with the homemade kennel. The issue is that the 700 series kennel which I would suspect would be required for these dogs will not fit through the cargo door of a 737. You just need to reduce the height of the kennel to less than 34 inches or build one that is less than 34 inches. If the dog will fit into a 500 series kennel then there is no problem at all. The only reason the airlines even weigh the dogs is to determine the charge for shipping them. It is done in 50 pound increments and when you break 250 pounds it goes as overweight cargo and the cost really shoots up. Take the dogs to a Pet Shop and see what kennels they will fit in first and then call the airlines directly for pet shipment. You can use a Petmover but they are just going to charge you extra money to do what you can do yourself very easily. Truthfully, the hardest part was making sure all the health paperwork was done correctly and signed in blue. That and finding a Vet that would certify that they applied Frontline to my dogs when no vets use Frontline anymore.
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