Food on board is always a highlight but one of the most popular features has to be the ever popular attraction of afternoon tea. This delightful experience on board follows on from a British institution and hails from the 1840’s. It was during this period that Anna, Duchess of Bedford decided that she was unable to wait for dinner at 8pm and as such requested a cake and a cup of tea each afternoon at 4pm. This then became tradition and set the tone and will forever be a quintessential British favourite.
On board a cruise, afternoon tea is more than just tea and cakes, it is an experience. White gloved waiters will tend to your every need, when done correctly and will explain the heritage and aristocratic pleasure that has become so popular over the years of cruising. Afternoon tea really is a special event and we have taken the time to decide our favourite cruise lines to enjoy the perfect tea and cake combination.
We all casted our minds back to our very first cruise and how we enjoyed the afternoon tea experience. Still to this day it remains an exciting highlight on board and most passengers will not turn down the opportunity to enjoy this British tradition when sailing the seas. If you think about it, it’s actually a very simple pleasure, just sipping tea and enjoying a slice of cake but when done properly, this even can be escalated to provide a unique pleasure with a wide variety of choice and exceptional white gloved service.
It is true that some cruise lines do afternoon tea better than others, some even pride themselves on it but nevertheless throughout the world of cruising it is still acknowledged on board all ships whether it’s a lavish tea service or held in the buffet restaurant, all cruise lines acknowledge the pleasure of this British ritual.
Let’s take a look at our favourite cruise lines for afternoon tea:
Without a shadow of a doubt we shall begin with Cunard Line. Afternoon tea on board the most famous ocean liners in the world is not just a ritual but a spectacular attraction. It remains a key feature on board the Cunard ships and the cruise lines claim to fame revolves around these wonderful British traditions. The British heritage is portrayed throughout all of the Queens and teatime aboard these marvellous ships is truly legendary.
Cunard hold afternoon tea each day of every cruise with the only exception being embarkation and disembarkation days. The afternoon tea service will take place between 3.30pm and 4.30pm every day at a range of venues on board. The venues will vary depending on the ship you are sailing aboard but usually include the gorgeous Grill Lounges and of course the beautiful ballrooms, our favourite of which is the most recent Queen Elizabeth. These daily events are popular so be sure to be there on time. You’ll find a wide range of tea selections to choose from and Cunard even have their own on board tea sommelier to advise you on deciphering the menu. Popular tea choices include jasmine; orange pekoe and mint but there are many more on offer. Alongside the tea options you will also enjoy a great spread of sandwiches, just to help take the edge off of your hunger from lunchtime to dinner, this is cruising at its best! Famous Cunard sandwich selections include salmon with cream cheese, roast beef and horseradish but you’ll find a wide array of choice. Follow sandwiches with an assortment of clotted cream scones, sublime pastries and of course a glorious choice of cakes. This service is completely complimentary so no need to worry about any hidden charges. The white gloved service really is outstanding and those sailing with Cunard are in for a treat when attending these daily events.
Next on our list is Celebrity Cruises as this cruise line really know how to put on an afternoon tea service. It’s all about Champagne High Tea on board Celebrity ships and these will take place at certain times during each cruise depending on the length of the itinerary. For seven night sailings this service usually take place once but will be doubled for longer itineraries. Celebrity Cruises do offer a more low key afternoon tea buffet service each day of every cruise at the buffet restaurants on board and this is completely complimentary. The Champagne High Tea experience does come at a charge, which will vary but is usually around $25 per person. The High Tea service will usually take place in one of the speciality restaurant on board but the location will vary depending on the ship you are sailing on.
One thing will remain constant, the standard of service. Celebrity Cruises really know what they’re doing here and the $25 per person cover charge is more than worth it. The cruise line pulls out all the stops as you arrive to a glass of champagne and the smooth tones of a string quartet before you take your seat at table glistened with Riedel crystal. The waiting staff will then commence service with a selection of premium Champagnes accompanied by an assortment of sandwiches, desserts, pastries and superb truffles. A great choice of teas are available and coffee lovers will not be forgotten either with a range of lattes, cappuccino’s and espresso’s to select. Celebrity Cruises may be an American cruise line but they certainly know how to go about honouring this British tradition.
P&O Cruises cater specifically for the British market and as such you would therefore expect an exemplary afternoon tea service. It will come as no surprise that the cruise line offers a great selection of teas on board and that afternoon tea for P&O Cruises has become a work of art. All ships in the fleet will provide an afternoon tea service daily on board similar to Cunard with the exception of embarkation and disembarkation days. The afternoon tea service takes place at the main dining rooms of each ship and is nearly always held at 4pm. Guests will arrive at the restaurant to be greeted by white linen topped tables, glistening china and of course the perfect cake stand.
As for the spread, P&O Cruises look after their passengers here very well with a superb selection of sandwiches and British dessert favourites. Throw in the option of a scone complete with jam, butter and Devonshire clotted cream and you have the makings of a special afternoon on board. This service is completely complimentary with no extra charge whatsoever making it exceptional value for money.
Now it’s time to look at a luxury cruise line and first on the list is the wonderful world of Regent Seven Seas Cruises. All three ships in the fleet boast a magnificent afternoon tea extravaganza at 4pm each day of every cruise. Not only does the cruise line provide a tremendous range of choice but guests will also be greeted by a Regent “signature” musician to entertain. The location of the service will be one of the lounges on board but this will vary depending on which ship you are sailing aboard. For Seven Seas Voyager the venue is nearly always the Horizon Lounge whilst Seven Seas Navigator holds its afternoon tea at the Galileo Lounge on board.
The assortment of choice on board is absolutely stunning. Regent relish the challenge of providing the best afternoon tea and their range of sandwiches, pastries and teas is hard to beat. It’s also the extra options that set Regent apart with delicacies such as crepes, cupcakes, chocolate truffles and much more. All afternoon tea services on board are complimentary with a complete open seating policy. Simply arrive and you will be seated.
Continuing the luxury cruise theme, the final cruise line we had to include in our list of favourite afternoon teas is Silversea. This cruise line sets itself apart with the unique option for guests to enjoy afternoon tea from the comfort of your own suite. All Silversea suites come with butler service and you will have this choice available to you throughout your cruise to enjoy a sensational afternoon tea with the views from your suite veranda. Silversea also provide their own twist on an afternoon tea service and move away from just the British traditions of tea and cakes. This cruise line takes it up a notch and includes choices such as caviar and blinis, Alaska crab and even foie gras terrine with your tea. Your butler will decipher the menu for you and help you decide from the great selection available.
Alongside the option of a private afternoon tea, there is also a public tea service that takes place daily on board all ships in the fleet. This service commences each day at 4pm and the white gloved waiters will be on hand at a range of venues on board each of the ships including the Panorama Lounge, The Bar and La Terrazza. The service is completely complimentary, once again with no hidden charges, just relax and enjoy.
To summarise, these cruise lines are out of this world when it comes to excellent afternoon tea experiences and we highly recommend each and every one of them. Take a closer look at each cruise line by clicking on the highlighted links and we hope this helps you decide your next cruise.