By Cailey Rizzo
April 04, 2019
Towel in shape of Elephant on Cruise
Credit: Getty Images

In an effort to become more environmentally sustainable, Norwegian Cruise Line is cutting back on its signature turndown service, the folded animal towel, CruiseCritic reported.

The cruise line has become known for its unique turndown service. When guests go back to their rooms at night, they find their towels have been folded like origami into a variety of animal shapes. Sometimes there’s a towel alligator in sunglasses on the bed. A group of towel elephants may trek across the bed linen. There have been monkeys and rabbits and bears and, of course, sometimes swans, too.

“We are assessing the impact of reducing the number of towel animals we showcase aboard a few of our ships,” reps for the cruise line told Travel + Leisure in a statement. “We understand that many of our guests enjoy them as part of the experience of cruising with us, so towel animals remain available upon request."

They did not specify on which ships the animals will continue to appear without request.

People online are, predictably, very passionate about the animals’ disappearance. Rumors surrounding the animals’ disappearance began appearing in online message boards last month. “Stripping us of our towel animals in the name of conservation…” one commentor wrote online.

Rest assured, according to the cruise line, those who specifically ask for the folded towel animal service will continue to be treated with a fabric zoo each night.

Each animal takes a minimum of two towels to assemble. And each of the two towels needs to be laundered after it’s appeared in a guest stateroom — even if it hasn’t been used. Although the animals may not seem like a large environmental impact, there are typically more than 1,000 cabins on each ship and the ships sail most nights every year.

The cruise line has partnerships with several marine environmental organizations. Norwegian has also installed sustainable water and waste management systems. It has won several awards, including one from the U.S. Coast Guard, for its “environmental excellence.”