By Georgina Cruz
Attentive, white-gloved wait staff presenting platters of pastries and finger sandwiches and pouring steaming cups of a variety of teas… Fine china and crisp linens… Music and ocean views… Elegant afternoon tea is a cherished tradition at sea aboard many cruise lines. And what is truly sweet: these teas often feature special –and delectable--themes.
Here are some cruise lines, arranged alphabetically, that feature fine afternoon teas (the teas listed are special experiences in addition to the complimentary teas and snacks typically offered by most cruise lines):
Celebrity Cruises – Nothing like a bit of the bubbly to make a high tea an even more festive occasion. Celebrity's Champagne High Tea ($25), is such an occasion, taking place once on every seven-night sailing and at least twice on an eight-night or longer voyage. It is held in Celebrity's specialty restaurants to the tune of live music performed by a string quartet. On the menu are premium Forte' teas, Lavazza coffees including espressos, lattes and cappuccinos, finger sandwiches and pastries, scones, truffles and paté de fruit. Tables are set with Wedgwood china and Riedel crystal. The tea includes all culinary selections and a glass of champagne. The Champagne High Tea is offered across the Celebrity Cruises' fleet (with the exception of the Celebrity Xpedition in the Galapagos Islands). Visit www.celebritycruises.com.
Crystal Cruise Line – Daily afternoon tea is always a delectable and refined occasion with freshly prepared pastries, dainty sandwiches and a wide variety of teas served by waiters at the Palm Court on Crystal's ships. A harpist or a classical trio provide entertainment. The line also features not-to-be-missed themed teas like the Mozart Tea with such delights as warm Viennese apple strudel and Viennese torte. Afternoon teas are complimentary. Visit www.crystalcruises.com.
Cunard Line – Scones with clotted cream and jam are offered during afternoon tea aboard this British-heritage line, along with tea sandwiches, pastries and a variety of teas. A string quartet or pianist entertains and once every voyage there is a tea dance. White-glove service afternoon tea is served in the Queen's Room lounge, Grills Lounge (for Grill-class passengers) and a more casual version is offered in the ships' buffet-style restaurants. Afternoon tea is complimentary on Cunard Line. Visit www.cunard.com.
Disney Cruise Line – Arguably the most whimsical and family-friendly afternoon at sea is this line's Tea With Wendy Darling at Studio Sea. Peter Pan's pal, Wendy, enchants guests with tales of her adventures with Peter as they feast on iced tea (served in pots) and cookies. Tea With Wendy Darling is typically offered once during each sailing and it is free. Adults can also enjoy a posh afternoon high tea at Palo, an alternative, adults-only restaurant onboard Disney Cruise Line ships. Palo's high tea ($10 per person) serves up such delights as raisin scones with Devonshire cream and apricot and strawberry jams, finger sandwiches of smoked salmon and cucumber, chicken curry, egg slad, cucumber and cream cheese finger sandwiches and 10 teas. Other treats include English trifle and mocha éclairs. Visit www.disneycruise.com.
Holland America Line – Holland America's ships feature casual afternoon teas and special themed teas such as the Royal Dutch High Tea and Indonesian Afternoon Tea. Both themed and casual teas are complimentary. The Royal Dutch High Tea is a delightful affair presented once during each voyage in the main dining room and featuring buffet-style and waiter service, a variety of teas, pastries, scones, finger sandwiches and other treats. Music is provided by a string quartet. Visit www.hollandamerica.com.
Princess Cruises – Afternoon tea is served on Princess ships' main dining rooms and it is an elegant affair, with white-gloved wait-staff serving a variety of teas, finger sandwiches, scones, cookies and pastries. A string quartet or other musicians entertain during teatime while passengers socialize and discuss their day. Afternoon tea is complimentary on Princess. Visit www.princess.com.
Silversea Cruises – Afternoon tea is a sumptuous occasion aboard Silversea Cruises' all-suite ships, presented in the vessels' Panorama Lounge or at The Bar, which is transformed into an elegant teahouse with crisp white linens on the Silver Spirit. A piano player entertains as white-gloved waiters pour a variety of teas and serve pastries such as chocolate surprise and fruit tarts, scones with clotted cream and jams and tea sandwiches –perhaps smoked salmon with cream cheese, chicken salad, roast beef and cucumber and cream cheese. Guests can opt to have afternoon tea served in their suites (all suites offer butler service) and choose from such delights as caviar and blinis, foie gras terrine with brioche, Alaskan crab claws with dips, cheeses and crackers and more. Afternoon tea, along with a variety of champagnes and wines, is complimentary on Silversea vessels. Visit www.silversea.com.