You Can Take Your Guide Dog on a Cruise, but Can You Take Him Out of the Country?

Happy to report that Nash and I are back from a week at sea in the Western Caribbean, and Nash has great sea legs. The seas were a little rough, but Nash and I were fine unlike several other people who got a little sea sick. We headed out on Royal Caribbean’s Librty of the Seas last Sunday, and overall I would highly recommend the cruise to others. I will tell you however, that if you are going to head out on a cruise, make sure that you do not have to be in touch with work because the internet was .65 a minute, and the phone service was terrible. We did have a lot going on with Laugh For Sight South Beach, and had to be in touch with people, so it did make part of the cruise a little frustrating.

As we headed out to sea on out first true vacation in over ten years, we got a little familiar with the enormous ship. We did this by frequenting a few of the bars on board. Luckily, our cabin was in the middle of the ship, so it made getting places easy, although I did have to ask most of the time where I was and ask for other cruisers assistance getting to where I was going. All of the other cruisers were super friendly, except for a select few, but it was rare that we had to ask more than once for help. Nash was of course, the most popular guy on the entire cruise, and I would say that 70 percent of the ship asked to pet him, so telling people that he was working got a little annoying, but Nash did get to spend a lot of time with his harness off when we were relaxing, and he got tons of love. Monday was a day at sea, and we had anytime dining which I would suggest so you can go by your own schedule, as afterall, you are on vacation.

Monday was a a relaxing day at sea where Scott my friend who I went on the cruise with, Nash and I met a bunch of our fellow cruisers. We spoke with a lot of experienced cruisers to get the low down, and of course the question which I was asked the most during the cruise began. “Where does Nash go to the bathroom?” By the end of the cruise, I was so tired of being asked this question, my response was, “what room are you in?” Seriously though, the cruise set up a box at the back of the ship on the fourth level full of wood chips for Nash to go in. I don’t know why they thought Nash was a gerbil. Nash did go in the box about 80 percent of the time, and to the left of the box the rest of the time. Monday night we watched Monday Night Football in the sports bar in the middle of the Caribbean.. You have got to love modern technology

Tuesday we docked in Costa Maya, Mexico, a resort town that was built by the cruise lines, and you would not believe you were in Mexico, as it is not like any part of Mexico I have been to before. It was really clean and expensive! Nash was able to rejoin us ashore, and loved all the new smells of Mexico. We walked all around the port, as there were a lot of stores and restaurants. We settled on Senor Frogs, as they had free WiFi, and we had to do a lot of emailing for Laugh For Sight. I got a Margarita, and I have to tell you, it is probably the earliest in the morning I have ever ordered a cocktail, but when in Mexico. Thank God Scott asked to see the menu before I ordered my shrimp tacos that I was dying to have, as wait for it, wait for it, one taco was $21!!!! Are you kidding me, I thought we were in Mexico. We decided to finish our drink and head to a cheaper bar. We settled on a bar right at the port, and met some people from our ship. I enjoyed some shrimp tacos, and Nash enjoyed looking all around and sniffing everything in sight.

Wednesday we were in Belize, and this is when the fun began. Scott was going scuba diving so Nash and I were on our own all day. We were awoken by a phone call from the front desk that they had paid $25 to Belizian customs to inquire if Nash would be able to go ashore. When we booked the cruise we were told that as long as Nash had his papers, he would be able to get off at every port. I had heard from several of the cruisers who had been to Belize that it was not the safest place in the world, and unless you were going scuba diving or on a tour of the jungle that it was really not worth getting off the ship. So since I can’t see above water, there was no reason for me to go below water, and I didn’t want to be in the jungle alone, so I had planned to stay on the ship. Of course, I had to pay the fee anyway. Nash and I went to the pool bar, and met up with a bunch of the people we had been hanging out with. It was a real hot day, so we kept going between the pool and th ebar with my new friends Doreen and Barbara. They were a blast to hang out with and became my designated walkers when Scott wasn’t around and I needed to get somewhere. It’s amazing how much energy drinking in the sun takes up all day, as we had a lot of fun, but crashed out shortly after dinner. Of course, Nash woke me up at two in the morning to go for a walk. He definitely was enjoying being at sea and the salt water air, as I was told he kept walking around with his nose up in the air.

Thursay we were in Cozumel. Scott, Doreen, Barbar, and I headed ashore without Nash, as he was not allowed to get off the ship in Cozumel. I had bought Nash a new bone and gave it to him as he was going to have to y. I felt bad as Nash and I have been together for 19 months, and the longest we have been apart is 3 hours, and Nash does seem to have a little bit of a detachment disorder. The four of us headed ashore, and I broke out my cane, wow this was weird. We walked around the town, and made our way to Carlos and Charlies, the place to go in Cozumel. Amazingly, I remembered being at Carlos and Charlies 20 years ago. After getting there, I remembered why I recalled it, as the place is an absolute blast with people running around with whistles, making balloon hats, doing body shots, and all other sorts of things. We had a bunch of yard long margaritas, and had a hell of a time. But I kept thinking something was missing, oh yeah, poor little Nashy was back on the ship all alone. We were gone about five hours, aand I was anxious to get back to the room. When we walked in, Nash was asleep on his couch which was his bed during the cruise, he looked up, and laid back down as if he didn’t even miss me. His bone laid half chewed on the floor. I think he may have even had a date with the drug sniffing dog!

Thursday evening was the roughest night at sea, but Nash the sea dog was fine. After dinner we headed up to the top of the ship and the nice chill ounge Oliver Twists. We listened to some jazz, and then headed down to our regular bar which was getting a little old as they only played salsa music, and loud. Scott headed up to bed, as he was going diving the next day, so Nash and I were going to hang out for a little. We met a couple from Sweden, and we got to talking, and I finally discovered that yes, there was a bar on the ship that played something besides cruise music. There was a pub on deck five that had a great guitar player and plays all the classics and the entire bar would sing along, my favorite kind of bar. So Nash, the Swedish couple, and I headed down. Wow, what a blast this bar was, as you would just yell out songs, and Jimmy would start with a little comedy intro and play the songs. We stayed until close and then headed back to the room.

On Friday, we awoke to the captain’s voice and the disappointing news, that the seas were too rocky to get into Grand Cayman. Quite the disppointment, and a lot of the ship was pretty pissed off. Amazing that they don’t do anything to compensate us for one less port. So Friday turned into a sea day, and a day at the pool bar even though it was a little cold. We finally made our way to the casino, and I pleased that the ship allowed the dealer to place my chips on the roulette table. Sorry to report that Nash and I did not win anything. It had been 12 years since I last gambled in a casino, so it was fun, and I did hit a few numbers including Nash’s birthday 31, but we gave it all back. Friday night, we were back at the guitar bar, and another fun night of singing.

Saturday was our final day on the cruise ship and a day at sea. We packed nice and early to get it out of the way. We hung out at the pool all day with all the great people we had met over the past week. There were a bunch of drinks and even more laughs. I let Nash sit around without his harness on, as a lot of people wanted their picture with him and to come over and say goodbye. Overall, the cruise was a blast, and I think Nash enjoyed himself even if he only got to get off at one port. Strange that Royal Caribbean would tell me one thing when booking the cruise, and something different while at sea. I can’t imagine that Nash is the first guide dog to ever go on a cruise, so you would think they would have known the answers up front. I would definitely go on another cruise, but Nash would have to be allowed to get off at most of the ports for me to do it. I guess the two of us are now attached at the hip. Thankfully, Nash did not even attempt to jump over any of the rails into the sea, as I would of had to go in after him, and I don’t think the cruise ship would have stopped for usQ

5 Responses to “You Can Take Your Guide Dog on a Cruise, but Can You Take Him Out of the Country?”

  1. Robbin Says:

    I’m not sure what cruise line, but the same thing happened to another friend of mine with a guide. That and they told her that the parking box would have fake grass, not woodchips. Poor pup wouldn’t go until she drank 3 bowls of water and was ready to burst and decided that any port in a storm, so to speak, was good.

    Left hand, meet right hand. Well, it sounds like a good time was had by all anyway! Sometimes the problems make the most memorable vacations *grin*

  2. Barbara Fischler Says:

    Loved reading about the cruise. Glad you and Nashie are back on solid ground. Seems like he has had quite a year! Perhaps you can write to the cruise line so that others with guide dogs will have some guidance when they attempt to go on a cruise. Shame on them for not knowing more.

  3. Lorraine Says:

    Hey Brian,
    Just got around to reading your Cruise Blog. Does sound like a good vacation idea. I’ve never been on a cruise. I heard the average weight gain is 14 pounds! I’m glad Nash got to have so off harness time and lots of time to socialize.

  4. blindgator Says:

    I would have actually preferred the artificial grass to the wood chip box. We were on Royal Caribbean, and I would like to go on a transatlantic cruise to Spain and Italy, and some other countries, but Nash would have to be able to get off in most ports, and fly back without restrictions, but obviously Royal Caribbean has no clue to the laws, so I am not sure who I need to call to find out, maybe the state department.

  5. blindgator Says:

    Yes, Nash had a blast on the cruise, and of course loved being the center of attention. It was a little crazy how much attention he got, as like 70 percent of the ship wanted to pet him. Funny thing is, I don’t recall ever asking to pet someone I didn’t knows dog. I guess Nash is just that good looking. He even got to swim a little in the ocean in South Beach. Not to worry, he did this with my sighted friend, so nothing bad would happen, and he loved it!

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