The fact is, it’s hard to find dog-friendly sailing/cruising opportunities, unless you own your own boat or can talk your way onto a friend’s boat. They exist, don’t despair (never despair!), but they’re rare. I list several in Bone Voyage, my book about dog travel — and isn’t it time you bought yourself a copy? — but this week I learned from reader Jenna that the German company 1AVista Reisen offers four different river cruises focusing on travelers with pet dogs (though guests without dogs are also welcome — “Selbstverständlich sind auch Gäste ohne Hund herzlich willkommen”).
Jenna is eying the next available cruise, an 8-day trip on the Rhine and Moselle rivers that heads south from the cathedral city of Cologne (Köln) to Koblenz, then turns southwest to follow the Moselle River to Trier, the oldest city in Germany, and home to eight UNESCO world heritage sites. The ship (the 50-cabin MS Normandie) docks several times a day so guests can walk their pups on land (if your dog needs a break between shore visits, there’s a pet relief area set up on the “Sonnendeck”). On the return trip to Cologne, the ship stops in different locations along the rivers.
Other trip options include a 4-day Rhine River cruise that takes you past Koblenz (and I think past the Lorelei rock — oh, the romance!); a different 8-day Rhine/Moselle cruise; and an 8-day cruise northwards from Cologne to Utrecht and beyond, to Volendam and Enkhuisen on Holland’s coasts, before returning to Cologne on another branch of the Rhine (you can, if you like, tack on an additional short Rhine cruise that heads south from Cologne).
Reading the list of stops on the trip Jenna is considering brought back very happy memories of childhood trips to the Rhine and Moselle valleys — not to be missed by anyone with an interest in history and castles and mythology. And wine — this is prime wine country, after all, and the mountainside vineyards that add so much to the scenery produce some superb Riesling (and other wines too).
Your dog must be leashed, but she can be with you in all guest areas, including “im Salon, Restaurant, an der Rezeption oder an Deck.” You’re requested to bring your pet’s own food. There is a size restriction (your pet can be no more than 50 cm tall — just under 20″ — at the shoulder), and there are breed restrictions (“Gefährliche Hunderassen gemäß der Hundeverordnung des Landes NRW wie Pitbull, Bullterrier, Rottweiler, Bulldog etc. werden niche befördert”). There is a small fee for your pup: on the longer trips, it’s € 80 (€ 40 on the 4-day cruise).
Thanks so much for the lead, Jenna — Chloe and I will follow in your footsteps as soon as we can!