Bakers are once again battling it out to be crowned the winner of The Great British Bake Off on BBC Two and, with the return of the popular television series, we thought this would be a fantastic time to talk about cake, scones and cucumber sandwiches.

Afternoon tea has long been a favoured pastime on cruise ships and, following on from the contestants’ attempts at sandwich cakes, chocolate sensations and angel food cake plus last week’s bread showstoppers, here are some of the essential ingredients for an on-board tea to tantalise your taste buds.

Backdrop and Timing

Whether you are a fan of Wedgwood china and glimmering crystal-chandelier ballrooms, or a themed afternoon tea allowing you to step back in time, there are numerous options available from different cruise lines. Fred Olsen, for example, provides musical accompaniment in the form of pianists and other classical musicians, while Crystal Cruises sometimes runs events where the dining staff dress in period costume, such as brocade and lace for a Mozart Tea.

Since the 19th century, afternoon tea has traditionally been served at four in the afternoon, but some ships vary this depending upon their individual itineraries. From observation lounges with amazing views across the ocean to traditional dining areas, you can expect linen-clad tables with beautiful cake stands in a variety of settings.


Three-tiered cake stands are the norm for afternoon tea and these are generally laid out with finger sandwiches on the bottom, scones in the middle and a selection of cakes on the top. In February this year, Mary Berry gave some advice to viewers of This Morning stating that sandwich fillings should have exceptional flavour, for example pepper can be added to cucumber; plain or sultana scones are lovely made with buttermilk; and meringues are a good filler. Cakes served up on cruises have ranged from Seabourn’s apple mascarpone cheesecake to Holland America’s cupcakes and warm English crumpets – simply delicious!


Connoisseurs will not be disappointed with the range of teas on offer at sea either. Mint, Ceylon, jasmine, Indonesian, Earl Grey, Darjeeling, rose hip, chamomile…the list is never-ending and you can of course stick to traditional breakfast tea if your tastes are less adventurous.

Could afternoon tea on-board a cruise ship be Mary Berry’s heaven? We like to think so.

Why not tell us about your afternoon tea experiences in the comments, or send us a picture of your kitchen creations over on the Facebook page if you’ve been finding inspiration in the bake-off?

 Image credits: Colin1661music and P&O Cruises

Featured image: Cunard

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