Guide to Taking Dogs on the Spirit of Tasmania

Last updated on 30 March, 2023

Taking dogs on the Spirit of Tasmania is a daunting proposition. Poor reviews and media reports highlighting pets left unattended, going missing and dying on the journey fuel owner hesitation. Fortunately, these tragic events are rare. Many like us have voyaged to and from Tasmania with their dog and other pets without incident. 

Our guide below takes you through the entire process and answers questions such as how much is it to take a dog on the Spirit of Tasmania? Can I leave my dog in my car on the Spirit of Tasmania?

taking dogs on the spirit of tasmania

Can You Bring Your Dog to Tasmania?

Tasmania is free of hydatid disease carried by dogs that is fatal to humans. Ehrlichiosis is a disease killing dogs in mainland Australia that has not yet gotten a hold.  

To keep both these diseases out of Tasmania there are strict bio security requirements. All dogs:

  • must be given a worming product with praziquantel within 14 days to treat them for hydatid tapeworm, and
  • must be checked for ticks.

In addition, you need to sign a declaration form. And will need to have a supporting document from your vet. 

As required, Chika (our dog) was taken to our local vet in NSW within 14 days and was administered the praziquantel by our vet. The tablet given to Chika was massive. Chika was administered the tablet as two halves hidden in food. She had no side effects.

Taking Dogs on the Spirit of Tasmania

Should you take your dog to Tasmania?

Which Pets Can Travel on the Spirit of Tasmania?

According to the Spirit of Tasmania website, dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets, some birds, chickens and ducks may travel on the Spirit of Tasmania. It is best to ring customer service if you have questions about taking your pet on the Spirit of Tasmania.

Taking Assistant Dogs on the Spirit of Tasmania

By law, assistance and guide dogs can board and remain with their companions on the Spirit of Tasmania. At the time of booking, state that you will be accompanied by your assistance dog so that staff can ensure your boarding and time sailing will go smoothly.

How to Book Pets onto the Spirit of Tasmania?

Booking your dog (or allowed pet) onto the Spirit of Tasmania is easy using the online booking form. The form asks you to select the number of pets and kennels required.

Travel to Tasmania with a dog

Note that the Spirit of Tasmania requires one kennel per pet. The only exception is unless the animal is a mother with pups or kittens.

It also states on the online booking form that it is a requirement that your pet travels in a Spirit of Tasmania kennel, which is not strictly true. It is more accurate to say each dog or pet must be booked on and paid for by paying for a kennel for each (similar to booking yourself a seat).

How Much Does it Cost to Take a Dog on the Spirit of Tasmania?

The fee for your pet is $22 each way.

Spirit of Tasmania kennels

Pre Sailing Phone Call

7 – 14 days prior to your sail date a representative from the Spirit of Tasmania will call you if you have booked for any pets. We were asked what breed of dog Chika is and were reminded about the vaccination requirements which we had completed by that time. It is also an opportunity to ask any questions you may have.

Check In and Boarding the Spirit of Tasmania with your Dog

It is now sailing day. At check in you will be asked to confirm verbally if your dog (or pet) is still travelling. A yellow sign to hang from your rear vision mirror will be provided.

Where Your Dog Can Travel on the Spirit of Tasmania | Kennel Or Car

As noted above, it is a requirement that you book and pay for a kennel for each of your pets travelling on the Spirit of Tasmania. It is also clearly stated on the website that your dog (or pet) must travel in the kennel. However, on board, you will be given the option of your dog (pet) remaining in your vehicle or putting them in the kennels.

If you leave your dog (or pet) in your car, an indemnity form, provided at check in, will need to be signed by you.

You will not be permitted to check on your dog until it is time to disembark. Staff will check on dogs in the kennels to ensure they have water and are generally okay. How often and what happens if a pet is not well is not stated.

Alternatively, leaving your dog in your car on the Spirit of Tasmania, a familiar space, maybe the best, but no one (including staff) will check on them. It is also worth considering your dog’s toileting and if it may become too hot in the car during the journey.

Spirit of Tasmania Kennels

Kennels are on “ventilated” decks 3 and 5 of the ship and face out towards the vehicles parked on deck. The kennels are in stacked rows, with the smaller kennels above the large ones. The side and back ‘walls’ are solid metal. The door at the front is wire with a slide lock. There is also a secure metal dish for water.

Spirit of Tasmania dog kennels
Kennels on the Spirit of Tasmania

All pets are to travel in a suitably sized kennel. Some owners put small dogs in large kennels limiting the number suitable for bigger dogs. There are signs saying pets will be moved to appropriate kennels if required, so ask staff if you need assistance.

Something that struck me as lacking in case of an emergency is that there was no information as to the name of the pet or owner kept on the kennels or anywhere.

What Should You Provide for Your Pet on the Spirit of Tasmania?

Provide water for your dog. The secured metal bowls in the kennels make this easy. If your dog is travelling in your car, ensure your dog has access to water that cannot be spilled or knocked over.

Providing your dog with food or not is a personal choice based on your dog’s needs, including any medical conditions. We opted not to feed Chika before or during the voyage.

We chose for Chika to travel in a kennel. To help her feel more comfortable, we put her blanket in with her. Familiar items may help your dog settle better.

Disembarking the Spirit of Tasmania with a Dog

To disembark the ship, you will follow the directions of the staff, collect your dog from the kennels (if this is the option you chose) and return to your vehicle. Then it is a matter of waiting until given the signal by staff to drive off. It is well signed where to drive.

Have the vet certificate ready, as you may be asked for it when driving off the ship in Devonport.

Sedation For Your Dog (An Option)

The voyage on the Spirit of Tasmania takes 9 to 11 hours. Some dogs will take being away from you and in an unfamiliar situation in their stride. Other dogs will not. 

Other dogs like our Chika, bless her, is the sweetest dog, but she is also a reactive anxious dog triggered by noises and her fear of other dogs. When she does react, she becomes highly stressed and can become unwell. 

An option to help your anxious or reactive dog is to speak to your vet before travelling on the Spirit of Tasmania. The vet we saw listened to our concerns. Then recommended and prescribed a long lasting sedative. Also, on the vet’s advice, we trialled Chika on the medication before sailing to ensure she had no adverse reaction. 

Related read: Vet Care for Your Dog While Travelling Australia

On the sailing day, she was given the sedative 30 minutes before departure as directed by the vet. Honestly, we cannot say how she went during the voyage. When we collected her, she was calm and happy to see us. There were no signs she had suffered any extended periods of stress or anxiety. 

What if Your Pet Has Special or Medical Needs?

If your dog will need medication or other assistance during a voyage, it is necessary to provide a veterinary certificate with this information more than 24 hours before sailing. Approval will need to be given by the Master. If given, a staff member will take you to your dog at the necessary times.

Travelling with dogs on the Spirit of Tasmania, like it was for us with Chika, can be a fairly stress-free experience with some pre planning. It was all worth it as Tasmania was fantastic destination to visit with your dog.

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Travelling with Dogs on the Spirit of Tasmania
taking dogs on the spirit of Tasmania

26 thoughts on “Guide to Taking Dogs on the Spirit of Tasmania”

  1. You said to think about how long they can hold their bladder if they are left in the car, but what about in the kennel? Do the staff let them out for a toilet break during the trip or do they need to hold it in for 10-12 hours?

    Thanks for a great guide. Really helpful.

    • Hi Michael,

      Unfortunately no one lets them out of the kennels. Just for my mind some people may want to make the decision to put their dog in the kennels if it is likely their dog will need to go to toilet in the 12 hours..easier to clean up.


  2. hi are we able to put 2 small dogs in together. 1 at 7.5 kg and the other at 12kg. they are best mates and i would rather they go in together

    • Yes you would be able to put them into together. The bigger kennels would likely be best but you can decide when you board the ship. Safe travels!

      • We were told we can’t put ours together. Both 7 kg and 8 kgs. I know they would travel better together.

        • That does seem unreasonable given your dogs sizes. We definitely saw dogs together in the kennels but maybe the rules have changed.

  3. Hi, Can you please tell me what is the largest size of Kennel you have? thanks

    • Hi Natalie,

      The biggest kennel size on the Spirit of Tasmania was plenty large enough for our border collie but I couldn’t tell you the actual measurements. I did not notice any larger kennels.

  4. Can you tell me can you lock the cages , seem like everyone can open it .

    • I have heard of people taking their own padlocks to put on the kennel doors. The only people allowed in the area the kennels are during the voyage are some SOT staff so we didn’t consider or worry about anyone opening Chikas kennel.

  5. My dog is travelling with us. We have a motor home but I have also booked a kennel. Are the kennels in an air conditioned area? or are the kennels in an – un air conditioned area.

    As you mentioned cars may get hot.
    I know we are travelling on a day sail both ways.
    Thanks Julie

    • The kennels are not in an air conditioned area. The decks where the cars are parked and the kennels are, is similar to a multi storey car park that is open around the perimeter.

    • Hi Wendy

      No. There is an additional form – specific needs and assistance requirement form – to complete and they ask that you check in for boarding 2 hours before departure.
      It is best to call if you have specific questions about your needs and your dog.

  6. This is great info thank you! I’ve been stressing about taking our 3 dogs across on the boat as I’ve heard they can get wet in rough seas but the photos don’t look like that’s the case…? Also I just wanted to mention that the Biosecurity Tasmania website states that proof of hydatid tapeworm treatment can come in the form of the tablet packaging and date given and doesn’t need to be accompanied by a vet certificate. 😊

    • We were fortunate to have reasonably calm seas. There times the conditions are so rough cars get damaged. Maybe then the sea spray hitting the side of the ship would reach the kennels. But I’d be more concerned about my dog been thrown around in the kennel than her getting wet by sea water.

  7. Hi, travelling over on the SOT in February 2024 with our fur baby & have booked a kennel…
    Do we have to provide information on whether he is vaccinated or not & if so, what would he need ?
    Cheers Maree

    • Hi Maree,

      The requirements listed by Biosecurity Tasmania for dogs entering Tasmania are:
      * Treatment for hydatid tapeworm
      * Be healthy and free from fleas

      There are no other requirements for vaccinations or preventative treatments. Dog boarding facilities in Tasmania will have vaccination requirements.

      Have a wonderful trip!

  8. Thank you so much. Very very helpful information that alleviates my concerns.

  9. Is there any reason they can not safely travel with their family instead of kennels or inside locked cars?

    • Hi Amanda,

      Currently, SOT only allows pets to travel in the onboard kennels or in your vehicle. As to WHY pets cannot travel WITH passengers in allocated pet friendly cabins or areas I cannot say. I agree, it would be better if it was allowed.


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