Southampton from the Queen Mary 2
If you've read my whole spiel about embarking in New York on the Queen Mary 2 for the dogs to stay in the kennels, then you'll know that I was worried about how our Southampton embarkation would work out. Well, Southampton was a breeze!
Morning walk: Unlike embarkation on the New York side, Cunard does not give pet travelers early check in on the Southampton side. But , it turns out that I actually preferred it that way. We drove into Southampton and walked the dogs at around 12:00 in the afternoon at Green Park, which is directly off the A33.
Drop off rental car and provide luggage to porters: Patrick dropped me and the dogs off at the Cunard terminal with our luggage and then drove to Hertz to drop off the rental car. The rental car office is within 10 minutes of the Cunard terminal.
*Note: Please make sure that you set aside enough time to arrive at Southampton. One family who was supposed to be on our ship with their dog planned to take the train from London to Southampton that morning. Unfortunately, the train was delayed by almost three hours and they missed boarding and check in. We stayed about an hour away from Southampton and drove in but there are plenty of lovely hotels right in Southampton where you can spend the night with your dog.
Jojo, the kennelmaster, and three of Chewy's and Abby's playmates
At the Southampton Cunard Terminal
We arrived at the Southampton Cunard Terminal at around 1:00, which worked perfectly because the ship left port at around 5:00 p.m.
The Southampton Cruise Terminal is a gorgeous light filled building in steel and gray. We pulled our car around and the porters helped us take our luggage out and stack them in the various areas. Unlike New York, the Southampton cruise terminal has a HUGE drop off area for cars so we didn't feel like we were being rushed. In fact, we were even able to rearrange some of our luggage while the porter helped hold Abby.
I sat on the bottom floor with Chewy and Abby while I waited for Patrick to return from the car office. The bottom floor is primarily a waiting area and very large, so, it is a good calm place to sit with your dogs if you need a few minutes to get reorganized.
Once Patrick arrived, we took the elevator upstairs. (Most guests will take the escalators up to the second floor). The second floor is spacious and brightly lit with plenty of seating. Since we had the dogs, we went through the Cunard VIP line, where there was no wait, and they checked us into our stateroom very quickly. We waited for Jojo, the Kennelmaster, to come and bring us up to the kennels.
Facilities on board the QM2 kennels
On Board the Queen Mary 2
At around 3:00, Jojo took us and one other family with two cats up through the ramp, across the dining room, and up the elevators to the 12th floor kennels. We got Chewy and Abby settled and went down to have a late lunch and enjoy our room.
By the time we had unpacked, we were ready to go back up to the 12th floor to see the dogs again.
This decision to check in late made the whole day much much less stressful, by the way. We were only away from the dogs for about an hour or two rather than the five hours when we boarded in New York. I highly recommend checking in at around 2:00 from Southampton.
Chewy's and Abby's fellow boarders
From around 4:00 to 6:00, we hung out with the dogs and explained the dogs' food preferences to Jojo as we watched the ship depart from Southampton (much much less dramatic than the Brooklyn departure with the Statue of Liberty in the background). The weather was pretty chilly and, unlike the Brooklyn departure where a band played in front of the pool, there were very few people who watched us leave from Southampton. The dogs ate and then we put them back in their crates.
This time around, we opted for the early dinner seating which we found to be a much easier schedule to optimize spending time with the dogs. The kennel visiting hours are:
8:00 - 11:00
12:00 - 12:30
3:00 - 6:00
8:00 - 8:30
We found it easy to go and visit the dogs until 5:30, change for dinner, eat dinner, and come back up at 8:00 to visit them again. When we had the late dinner seating, we found that we occasionally had to skip the 8:00 visiting hour which made us sad because then we couldn't say good night to the pups!
Next up: disembarkation in New York.
Note: This post was brought to you by the lovely folks at Cunard. Click here for more information about Cunard. As always, all opinions on this blog are mine and mine alone, regardless of sponsorship. We really do think that the Queen Mary 2 is the best way to transport pets overseas!