Cunard Line is well known for its extravagant cruises but the luxury life is not reserved solely for humans – pets can sail too. Natasha Salmon spoke to Queen Mary 2’s kennel master, Oliver T Cruz, about dietary requirements, animal life jackets and switching from a zoo to a cruise ship.
My typical day at work involves . . .
I begin by preparing food and water for all the animals travelling with us, including meeting any dietary requirements requested by their owners. I am responsible for walking the animals, using both the indoor and outdoor designated walking areas, to ensure they receive a healthy amount of exercise during the voyage. It is important to keep all animals comfortable, so they each have their own bed, get healthy meals and freshly prepared snacks, and have plenty of toys to keep them entertained. I have to ensure visiting times are adhered to by guests and also arrange photo opportunities as and when required. It’s important to keep the kennels and associated areas clean, using disinfectant, and of course I have to clean up any spillages or accidents, which often results in carpet shampooing or deep cleaning. I ensure all the kennels and cages are well maintained and secured at the end of each shift. Plus, I also manage the issuing and safe return of animal life jackets – we ensure the animals’ safety too.
I have been in my job . . .
For five years after starting in 2013. Before joining the Queen Mary 2 I was a guide and animal handler at a zoo in the Philippines.
I became a kennel master because . . .
When looking at jobs on board the ship, it seemed like the most logical step for me to take up the role of kennel master, and it is something I am extremely proud of.
The first thing I do when I get to work is . . .
Report to my supervisor and start preparing meals for the onboard cats and dogs. I then feed the animals and clean the kennels. I love playing with them and it is extremely fulfilling to see them comfortable and having fun. It’s especially nice when our guests, their owners, come and visit, and they see how comfortable I have made them – I take very good care of them. I have been looking after some of them for years, and I know them very well.
The most rewarding part of my job is . . .
When we have returning guests who remember my name, even if it’s been a year since I last saw them. That makes me feel like I did a good job and they trust me with their beloved pets.
The most challenging part of my job is . . .
Making sure our guests’ pets are comforted and feel safe during inclement weather conditions.
The worst thing that’s happened at work is . . .
I once looked after a cat that fell unwell during a voyage. Thankfully it was nothing serious and it made a full recovery, but it’s never nice to see an animal upset and unwell.
The one thing I would take to a desert island . . .
Would be my iPod – I cannot live without it. I love to listen to music as it helps me to relax and I especially like The Beatles.
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