A recent discussion about service dogs on a cruise sparked debate after it was announced that 40 such service animals would be on Carnival Celebration next week.

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One Carnival guest is asking for a full refund after finding out about these service dogs for the visually impaired.

In a recent “Coffee with me live” video update on Facebook, Carnival Ambassador John Heald addressed an upcoming cruise for the blind.

He announced there would be a special cruise on Carnival Celebration next week, in which a group of blind individuals would be enjoying the ship for the 7-day sailing.

But the statement that was the source of the complaint is that there would also be about 40 service dogs on the ship to help these legally blind guests.  The person was worried that her allergies would be a problem on the sailing.

The complaint, which Heald posted to his Facebook page, stated,

I watched your reel John Heald. DM me urgently! You said there would be 40 dogs on Celebration. I am on this cruise. I am disgusted. I think this is terribly unfair to the people who like me are allergic to dogs — and 50% of people are. A ship is a confined area, and a person with allergies could easily be assigned to a table near them at dinner. Even if you do not allow them to bring the dogs to dinner the owners will still smell like dog.

The would-be passenger went on to ask for her money back or a credit toward a cruise on another sailing.

Personally, I think this service dog thing has gone way too far. Dogs don’t want to on a ship, and most people don’t want dogs to be in those places. I am asking for a full refund or full credit to move to another cruise,” the complaint went on to say.

Carnival Celebration at Mahogany Bay. Photo Credit: Cruise Fever

Heald said he had written the Carnival customer to apologize.  He also defended the decision to allow these blind cruise passengers to have service dogs to aid them on their vacation.

 “We have 40 legally blind guests whose lives are dependent on this incredible animals. They will all eat in the same section of the dinning room and if anyone has any kind of allergies and are close to them at dinner please speak with the Maitre D and they will move you to a table further away. The cabins will of course be totally cleaned and sanatised at the end of the cruise,” Heald stated.

He went on to say that during this special cruise Carnival will be adhering to all ADA rules and that a refund would be most unlikely.

In the video post about the service dogs, Heald commented that the group of visually impaired passengers would be on deck 7 forward on the port and starboard side. A separate, private area would be dedicated to these guests.

He also mentioned that some cabin balconies for these cruise passengers would be used for the dogs and that litter trays would be cleaned by the crew daily.

Comments on the post were across the board but were mostly supportive of the cruise line’s move.

Many stated they would have loved to join this sailing on Carnival Celebration and that some were upset not because they were allergic but because they just “hate dogs”.

Still, some with particularly sensitive allergies had concerns about the move.

One supportive comment stated, “If they were if need of a service animal they would be complaining the other way.”

Heald was sure to add a few more remarks to his post in the comments as well.

Just to make it clear, every single guest cruising in this group is blind. These are guide dogs. We do not at any time now allow emotional support animals. Any dog who is allowed to sell with us under ADA regulations is offering a medical service to its owner,” Heald clarified with a comment of his own.

Cruise lines generally don’t allow pet dogs onboard due to health regulations and limited space. However, there are exceptions for service animals trained to assist people with disabilities.

Carnival states their policy on pets and service dogs here.

These service dogs can accompany their owners on many cruises, but some verification documents like a vet’s letter and vaccination records might be required.

Even with approval, service dogs may have restricted access to certain areas like pools and spas, and must be leashed and under control at all times.

Some cruise ports have more stringent guidelines for service dogs on a cruise ship.

For instance, Grand Turk requires an import license for a service dog even if the canine will be staying on the ship while in port.

On April 28, Carnival Celebration will sail out of PortMiami and begin a 7-day sailing to Amber Cove, San Juan, and St Maarten before returning to the Miami cruise port.

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