Afternoon tea is one of the few remaining traditions left over from the days of first-class service on the great ocean liners. Many modern cruise travelers still take enjoyment from the simple pleasures of sipping tea from delicate cups and savoring bite-size treats on a sea day afternoon. Several lines offer a variety of cruise ship tea services, including luxury line offerings with white-gloved waiters and china tea cups, casual DIY buffets with a handful of tea bags and cookies on mainstream lines and more unique offerings like a Mozart Tea or Royal "Tea" (read: apple juice served from a pot) with Disney princesses.

Some cruise lines do afternoon tea better than others, and on many ships, these midday repasts are true cruise highlights. Here are the 10 best afternoon teas on cruises that are not to be missed.

Crystal Cruises

The Setting

Passengers look forward to traditional and themed tea events like Mozart Tea with waiters dressed in period costumes of velvet, brocade and lace; English Colonial Tea, where waiters are decked out in white ties and tails; and Chocolate Tea aboard Crystal ships. Afternoon tea is offered daily on both Serenity and Symphony in the Palm Court as well as aboard Crystal's yacht, Esprit. Waiters pour tea at your table while you help yourself from extensive buffet selections.

The Spread

The list of available teas is long, so try something a bit out-of-the-ordinary like "leaves of Provence" black tea or a ginger twist herbal concoction. Sandwiches, scones and petit fours are served along with traditional pastries and specialties like warm Viennese apple strudel and chocolate tart.

Child Friendly?

Children are welcome to attend.

Free or Fee?

All tea events are complimentary.


Cunard Line

The Setting

Cunard's claim to fame rests squarely on its upper-crust British heritage, and teatime aboard its ships is legendary. Tea is held daily, with the exception of embarkation day, in various locations across its fleet -- including its crystal chandelier-clad ballrooms and intimate Grill lounges. The queue starts early for this event, so set your watch, or you might miss out.

The Spread

Teas on offer are from Twinings and Wedgewood, and the onboard tea sommelier will help you decipher the menu. Favorites include mint, ceylon, jasmine and orange pekoe. An enticing array of sandwiches is presented to take the edge off your hunger; offerings include salmon cream cheese, roast beef with horseradish and shrimp salad. They're followed by scones with clotted cream and jam, and then it's on to pastries like Black Forest cake, fruit tarts and eclairs.

Child Friendly?

There is no specific children's menu, but the kids are sure to enjoy some of the pastries.

Free or Fee?

It's complimentary.


Disney Cruise Line

The Setting

Disney offers the Royal Court Royal Tea on Disney Fantasy, Disney Dream, Disney Wonder and Disney Magic sailings. This is no Mad Hatter's tea party. Families gather for an afternoon snack while princesses tell stories, sign autographs and pose for pictures. Little ones don tiaras or swords and shields (which they get to keep at the end) for the royalty-inspired multicourse tea service.

The Spread

Apple juice and herbal tea are served in little teapots alongside sweet and savory snacks like cookies and crustless sandwiches. In addition to the food, girls are gifted with a photo and photo holder, autograph book, doll, jewelry box and charm bracelet as well as plenty of time visiting with the princesses. Boys also receive a photo and holder and autograph book plus a stuffed bear and assortment of Disney pins.

Child Friendly?

Absolutely! This experience was designed for kids. (But adults likely will have a bit of fun, too.)

Free or Fee?

The children's tea event costs $210 per child and $69 per adult.


Oceania Cruises

The Setting

Oceania Cruises is a Cruise Critic member favorite for afternoon tea -- and with good reason. The line offers teatime every day in Horizons, an observation lounge with dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows that afford inspiring, panoramic views. Waiters transform this venue into a traditional tearoom with linen-topped tables, fine china and silver. A classical string quartet plays discretely in the background.

The Spread

Oceania's pastry chefs look forward to afternoon tea almost as much as you do. They craft an ever-changing menu of finger sandwiches, colorful (and tasty) petits fours, moist scones and sinful desserts, which are served on four-tiered pastry carts along with an equally compelling selection of tea.

Child Friendly?

There's no specific children's menu, but kids are welcome to attend.

Free or Fee?

It's free.


Regent Seven Seas Cruises

The Setting

Regent's ships -- Seven Seas Mariner, Seven Seas Explorer, Seven Seas Navigator and Seven Seas Voyager -- offer afternoon tea daily. The event is held in various lounges such as the Observation Lounge on Explorer or Galileo's Lounge on Navigator. A Regent musician (pianist, guitarist, etc.) is generally on hand to entertain throughout tea service, although sometimes staff will host friendly but competitive trivia sessions during that hour.

The Spread

Regent teatime always features goodies like finger sandwiches, fruit, scones, pastries and a variety of teas and coffee. Look for themed teas with special desserts, such as cupcakes or cheesecake.

Child Friendly?

Children are welcome at the line's daily afternoon tea. The "Downton Abbey" tea party cooking class at the Culinary Arts Kitchen aboard Seven Seas Explorer involves cocktail-making, and isn't appropriate for very young cruisers.

Free or Fee?

Afternoon tea is complimentary with open seating, and reservations are not required. Explorer's "Teatime at the Abbey" class costs $89 per person.


Seabourn Cruise Line

The Setting

Held daily in the Observation Lounge, except on embarkation day, Seabourn's afternoon tea is a don't-miss. Waitstaff will seat you at a table set with china and silver and take your tea order. You're then free to peruse the buffet tables and help yourself to treats.

The Spread

It's evident that a true tea connoisseur developed the menu for Seabourn's ships. The line serves tea from the Mighty Leaf Tea Company. The offerings are extensive and include gems like African amber, organic mint melange, ginger twist, mandarin rose petal, Himalayan peak darjeeling and acai black tea. Finger sandwiches, scones, pastries, cookies, cakes and more are served alongside the tea. Sandwiches of special note are the marinated shrimp salad on focaccia and the roast beef, remoulade and cornichon croissant. On the dessert spectrum, favorites include apple mascarpone cheesecake, chocolate peanut butter ganache tart and apricot cake.

Child Friendly?

Children are welcome.

Free or Fee?

It's complimentary.


Silversea Cruises

The Setting

Silversea stands out because you can enjoy full afternoon tea in your suite. Butler service is standard for every suite aboard Silversea ships, so you might as well keep the staff busy with this request. Tea can be served with caviar and blinis, foie gras terrine with brioche, Alaska crab claws with dip, and cheese and crackers. Speak with your butler, and he'll run down all your options.

Of course, you shouldn't miss the public afternoon tea that's served daily. Depending on which ship you're sailing, head to the Panorama Lounge, La Terrazza or The Bar. White-glove service and entertainment, usually in the form of a pianist, await you.

The Spread

Ronnefeldt is Silversea's tea purveyor, and it offers a variety of blends like green darjeeling, rose hip and chamomile. Afternoon tea kicks off with platters of sandwiches, including smoked salmon with cream cheese, chicken salad, roast beef, and cucumber with cream cheese. Your waiter will then serve a variety of pastries, including chocolate surprise and fruit tarts, along with scones with clotted cream and jam.

Child Friendly?

Silversea does not cater to children, but any children onboard are welcome at tea.

Free or Fee?

It's complimentary, with open seating.


Viking Ocean Cruises

The Setting

On all Viking ships, afternoon tea is held daily in the Wintergarden, a beautiful, light-filled solarium with comfortable easy chairs and couches. Seat yourself in the open, central space for a more social atmosphere, or seek out a nook along the side windows for a more intimate cuppa. Live music often accompanies teatime. If it's crowded, seating will spill over onto the pool deck.

The Spread

Three-tiered trays hold crustless finger sandwiches, macarons and other miniature pastries, and warm scones with clotted cream and jam. Passengers can select from a huge tea menu, or order Champagne, wine and other spirits for an extra fee.

Child Friendly?

Viking Ocean Cruises does not welcome children under 18.

The Price

Tea is included in your cruise fare.