How Holland America overcame my scepticism about towel animal creations…

Towel Monkey on Holland America Nieuw Amsterdam

Towel Monkey on Holland America Nieuw Amsterdam

I never understood the fuss about towel animals. In fact I have to admit that I thought they were a rather tasteless and unfortunate nod made to please cruise passengers that lacked refinement and taste. I never imagined that I would become one of those who would be easily pleased by a bit of towel and face cloth manipulation. However I was converted by my ever cheerful cabin attendants (Mono and Otto) through the amusing and cheeky creation they left each night in my cabin when they set it up for the evening.

I finally got the point of towel animals on this trip. They are not just mind staggeringly clever – but they bring a smile to your face each evening. They are a fun treat to end the day. Some evenings they were so impressive, like “Mr Cheeky Monkey” above, that my fellow passengers would hurry out into the passageway to check if their next door neighbours had received the same surprise. I tried to store them up each evening by carefully placing them somewhere in my room to admire – while trying to resisting the temptation to give them names. But they would be swept away in the morning and the towels neatly stored until they were transformed into something new that evening. Destroying them felt almost heartless as each of them had a character and it seemed almost cruel. It was hard to see them as just inanimate towels. It seemed a real shame that they were dismantled as they looked like they took a lot of work to create and I would have happily let them “live” a few days more.

My admiration grew when I discovered the book “Holland America Towel Creations” that you can buy on board on how to make them. They looked even harder to make than I imagined they would be. I had to admire Mono and Otto’s talents even more after paging through the book.

I posted a few photos of them on Facebook while on the trip and discovered that my new guilty pleasure was one shared by many. So this is a celebration of my new found liking of towel animals….

Doogie - another of my favourite towel animals on Holland America

Doogie – another of my favourite towel animals on Holland America

Declaration: I travelled as a guest of Holland America Cruises on their MS Nieuw Amsterdam ship on a 7 Night Mediterranean Cruise from Barcelona visiting Naples, Palermo, Civitavecchia (Rome), Livorno (Florence/ Pisa), and Toulon. Holland America are a Premium Cruise line with Dutch origins dating back to 1873.


Gary Bembridge

I grew up in Zimbabwe, but I have been based in London since 1987. My travel life spans more than three decades and that includes more than 95 cruises. In 2005, I launched Tips for Travellers to make it easy and fun for people to discover, plan and enjoy incredible cruise vacations. And the rest, as they say, is history. I have the largest cruise vlogger channel currently on YouTube, with more than 3 million video views per month.

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7 Responses

  1. Robin says:

    We love getting the “towel animals” on our cruises and have gone so far as to purchase the book of “how to”, but have yet to try ! I first experienced the towel animals on a Carnival cruise and was very happy to see that Holland also do them. I am going to try making them with cloth dinner napkins for dinner parties one of these days.
    We have noticed that some stewards have varying creative skills because on our last cruise our towel animals were the very simple ones … no hanging monkey on that trip or other more elaborate critters.
    If you ask your steward, they WILL leave them if you wish to collect them during your stay onboard. We did that once and had SEVEN of them across the back of the couch in our cabin.

    • Thanks for reading and the comments – and suggestions! I should have asked as were a few I would love to have had hanging out (excuse the pun!) for a couple of days at least as they did make me smile. And looked so complex… I am looking forward to getting back on board and seeing what other ones they rustle up. I agree – they look VERY hard from the book………. Keep me posted if you do go and master any….!

  2. Jan Benson says:

    I also love them. In January I went on the new Carnival Breeze. We had our animals every night but what amazed me was early one morning as we were heading in to port we got a huge surprise. There were hundreds of towel creations on the Lido deck pool area. Some of them were made out of blankets and were huge. I felt like a kid on Christmas morning.

  3. John Samuelson says:

    When they first started to leave them in our cabin I thought they were cute…then I saw how hard they were to make and how much time it took to make them I told my cabin stewards not to make them for me anymore. They appreciated that almost as much as the tip I gave them at the beginning of the cruise.

    • John, thanks for taking a look at the article and for your comment. Great tip and advice for people to consider – especially if they do not appreciate them as anything we can do to help reduce workload for these busy guys and gals is always a good idea!

  4. judy butler says:

    My husband and I have taken 3 cruises and looking forward to our next one…we always loved seeing the little towel creatures on our bed…and always take pics of them and figure out what they are.

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