We sat freezing on the deck for a few hours. This was January. Every time I left her to run to the bathroom, or go to buy something warm to drink, she got distressed and started barking uncontrollably. Eventually I put her in the kennels, right at the top of the ferry. These kennels are fairly exposed to the sea winds, especially during a cold January night. By the time I let her out, early next morning, she was freezing cold, frightened and disoriented.
The journey back to Crete was better, as we travelled during the afternoon, but still was not ideal. I haven't done this journey again since then. After spending so much of our time traveling around Crete (and now Cyprus), on all forms of transport, I don't think this ferry journey would bother Sage much these days. But for anyone feeling unsure, I have summarised the experiences and advice of friends of mine who regularly manage long ferry trips to and from Crete...with their dogs.
|Mayia on a recent trip from Crete to Athens|
Staying on deck with your dog
Sage's friend Mayia is a frequent traveller on ANEK lines ferry Olympic Champion between Crete and Athens. My friends have tried out the various companies and options, and find the Olympic Champion the most convenient for the following reasons:
- This is one of the cheaper ferries
- Staff are quite relaxed about where you sleep (in terms of nodding off in a comfortable chair somewhere - some companies will actually wake you up!)
- The kennels at the back of the ferry where you can leave your animal if necessary are relatively clean and not so exposed to the elements as on other ferries
- Facilities are available for cleaning up after your dog (a water hose and broom near the kennels)
- There is a sheltered area of the deck which protects from the weather if you are sleeping outside with your dog
|Mayia on deck of the Olympic Champion|
In this case, your dog travels for free, and the only cost is your own ticket, at the cheapest rate (usually called 'economy' or 'deck').
While this might be fun with a group of friends, every once in a while... maybe... it's more difficult if you are travelling alone, or have any obligations the following day and don't want to arrive exhausted, or simply if you are not that fond of camping outside on ferries!
As she was getting older and frailer, Garby was treated to a night in a dog-friendly cabin at the end of this summer, as my friends travelled back to Athens. They also found ANEK lines to be the cheapest and best option. This option does cost more - I think about 80 Euros more than an ordinary cabin (ie without dog), but it does mean that you get a chance to sleep during the journey, without worrying about your dog.
|Garby travelling in style this summer|
The website recommends that you book these cabins well in advance (particularly during the busier seasons). I would also say that there are often price deals on these ferries, and it's worth doing some research to find out current deals and promotions.
You may want to carry your dog's blanket or rug, to help them feel more at home in the strange environment of the ferry.
Kennels on deck
I previously wrote about my short journey from Sitia to Heraklion by ferry, and the friends I met on board who were travelling back from Rhodes with their dog Guinness: http://travelcretewithyourdog.blogspot.com/2013/09/travel-between-siteia-and-heraklio-by.html
My friends would put Guinness into the kennels for short periods of time, so they could sleep for a couple of hours, or go and buy something to eat. Rhodes to Heraklion (or further, the ferry continues on to Athens eventually...) is a long haul - probably too long to camp out on deck! So my friends made sure they were well organised (carrying a water bowl that is almost impossible to spill, for example, and stocking up on food they might need, in order to limit the times they had to keep Guinness in the kennels).
|Guinness heading up to the kennels|
Guinness was also travelling with ANEK, as there are few companies that run this route. He was travelling for free.
|ANEK lines kennels|
Here you can find some rules and regulations for ferry travel with pets on the various lines operating within Greece: http://www.greekferries.gr/pets.htm
As a final note, I wanted to write briefly about leaving animals in cars in the garages while on board. I heard of a recent tragedy involving hunting dogs who were left in car trailers in the ships' garage, and were tragically killed. As there are facilities on board, there does not seem to be any reason to risk your dog over-heating, freezing, suffocating from endless car and diesel fumes etc etc. Simply, don't take this risk.