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Cruise and Fly, or Jet With Dogs?

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Posts: 25
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Joined: 9 months ago

My wife and I plan to retire in Portugal in mid-2024, and we have two dogs coming with us. Our older dog weighs 59 lbs. and is 14 years old, while our younger dog weighs 17 lbs. and is two years old. We are seeking advice on the best mode of transportation for our pets.

To be clear, the advice we seek is what’s best for our dogs, e.g., less stress, etc., weighed against the potential for transport cancellation.

Cruise and fly:

We have made reservations for a seven-day cruise on the “Queen Mary 2” with Cunard, and we plan to spend several days in the UK before flying our dogs in cargo to Portugal. The dog’s endeavor will take around ten to twelve hours in their crates, with over two hours in the air (ground transportation is an option, but it would take nearly a week). So, around two to three weeks for the whole journey.


We could charter a flight with our dogs in the cabin with us, which would take six hours. We would then take a car to our home, about a half an hour’s journey. So, we’d feed them breakfast in the USA and dinner in Portugal later that same day.

Full disclosure: we’re currently working with businesses (save Cunard) that Expats Portugal recommended. Those conversations are also ongoing.


While the cruise and fly or ground transport options seem more “reliable” regarding a firm departure date, the jet option would be less stressful for everyone.

Essentially, we are concerned about the potential for trip cancellation with a charter flight. The aforementioned isn’t via our direct experience but only what we’ve gathered via hearsay.

We would greatly appreciate any advice or opinions from the members of the Expats Portugal forum.

Thank you so very much!

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Posts: 19

@kraig Hello, and lucky you! My wife and I tried to book space with Cunard last year for our move (but going all the way to Hamburg so as to land and already be on the continent) and were told they had a waiting list that was one year long. We have a 5 year-old Golden Retriever who weighs around 65 lbs and a rescue Louisiana Catahoula who is 14 years old and weighs around 45 pounds. We used Global Travel International (who is a business partner here) and shipped our two canines from Dulles Airport to Lisbon via Brussels. Our TAP overnight flight was abruptly cancelled and, after much insistence on my part, we were rebooked on the earliest flight the next day but it meant that our two dogs would potentially arrive in Lisbon as we, their owners, were still stuck in the US. The agents were great when this occurred, they saw the flight change, immediately assigned us a Case Manager who contacted us, let us know they would board the dogs in Brussels where they have excellent facilities and then transport them to Lisbon after we had arrived. They did so and we just paid extra to have them deliver our canines to our rental home. It was more stressful than we had anticipated (due to the abrupt cancellation of our flight) but we give the agency kudos for their responsiveness, proactiveness and empathy during that ordeal. Do bear in mind that if you are flying at the height of summer, it may be more difficult to find airlines willing to fly them in cargo due to the excessive heat they may encounter during their trip. If minimal stress is your goal and price is of little concern, I would either keep the Cunard option or opt for the private chartered jet. Good luck.

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I just read about a US air company called Bark Air that flies pets in the US and from the US to the UK. (the article is in portuguese…)


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