Tips For Crossing The Channel With A Dog

by Lisa M

We arrived in Ljubljana, Slovenia last week. Our journey started at London Liverpool Street Station at the busy evening rush hour time, our train wasn't even listed on the departures board. For a few seconds I was worried it was the wrong station. I found the information desk, spoke to a member of staff and was reassured it was definitely the correct station and the platform departure number would come up on the board and it did! No matter how well you think you are prepared for travelling, sometimes simple hiccups can instantly throw you off and cause mild panic. Read on for tips that may help, especially if you travel with a dog.

Driving a car onto the continent is easy, so we will address the hard stuff: no cars, with a dog. If you are travelling as a foot passenger to Europe, then we highly recommend the Stena Line Ferry crossing from Harwich to the Hook of Holland to get across the Channel. We chose a night crossing which meant we booked a double bunk bed, en suite cabin for us and a kennel for Chelsea.

We arrived for the 11pm crossing in plenty of time, by train from Liverpool Street Station. Boarding started at 8.30pm, the whole process was easy and efficent. Once aboard we went to the Guest check-in desk, where we picked up our cabin key and then a member of staff took us to the kennel area on the deck below to get Chelsea comfortable and settled. We were probably more bothered by leaving Chelsea in a kennel than she was at being left! We booked a bigger kennel than she really needed, you pay £17.00 for a kennel, regardless of size. The kennels are monitored by CCTV which is available to see on the TV in your cabin. (We able to go to the kennel deck to check on her whenever we wanted). There is also a small deck area where dogs can be let out to stretch their legs etc. There are several restaurants,cafes and bars on board, be prepared to pay around 5 Euros for a lager. At 6.30 you get a wake up call, giving plenty of time to get a shower, have a bite of breakfast and collect your four legged friend in time to disembark at 8.00am. The total cost for passage was £154.00. Food and drink are not included, so you can either take your own or eat at one of the restaurants or cafes on board.

Once through the Ferry Terminal be prepared to get a taxi or bus to Rotterdam Centraal. The number 711 bus (not the 711 Strand, this goes to the beach) will get you there in about 25 minutes. This bus terminates at Rotterdam Centraal, an announcement to this effect is made in Dutch, German & English, when it arrives at the station, so don't worry about when you need to get off. Buses only take cash or prepaid tickets - these can be bought from the grey metal ticket machine directly outside the Ferry Terminal exit doors. The cost was 3.20 Euros per person, Chelsea travelled free.

To purchase a dog train ticket from Rotterdam Centraal to Munich, go to the ticket office, get a numbered ticket (International) and be prepared to wait for the number to come on the screens before getting served. Chelsea's ticket cost 98.00 Euros, Before leaving Munich we needed to purchase another ticket for Chelsea, again from the ticket office, this one to Ljubljana was 48 Euros.

We puchased our train tickets online before travelling from Loco2.com. This is an extremely good website that covers train travel all over Europe.

Some countries require a dog to have a muzzle, which we had ready to put on Chelsea if requested. Germany has strict dog laws. We were never asked to muzzle her throughout our whole journey.

We found nobody particularly cared about seeing Chelsea's pet passport on the way here, although they will before we enter the UK again. We have to take her to get an injection against tapeworm, within 5 days of returning.

You may never travel to Ljubljana, the point is that travelling by train to anywhere with a dog needs a bit of organisation and it can be a bit expensive, but properly planned, is totally worth it.