Cuddly Zoo at
By Susan J. Young
Several years back when Carnival Cruise Lines issued its first towel creations book, I thought "what a great idea!" Guests who loved finding the cute towel animal sculptures on their cabin beds during a Carnival Cruise could “re-create” those lovable animals at home.
I never seemed to find the time, though, to try out the instructions. The book simply sat on the shelf. But alas, I recently received a reprieve for my procrastination. Carnival sent me a second, expanded edition entitled “Carnival Towel Creations with Freddy,” featuring the line’s mascot, “Fun Ship Freddie.”
While I’ve personally never warmed up to Freddie, I did thumb through this new book with enthusiasm. The new book boasts step-by-step instructions and drawings of 80 different towel creatures.
It got my journalistic and creative juices flowing. Hey, how hard could it be to create a menagerie for my own home's bedrooms?
Snails and Bats and Goats
New creatures in this second edition include a snail, bat, cow, stingray and goat.
This book would be great for a children’s birthday party activity ; for families seeking to reminisce about their own cruise; or as a gift for a stuffed animal lover.
How difficult could it be to put the critters together, I asked myself?
Well, after reviewing the book a bit further, I realized I’m probably a better writer than a sculptor.
So I did the only sensible thing – I opted for “reinforcement” – corraling my mother to help me shape the critters into something that would hopefully look somewhat like the photos in the book.
How did we do? You be the judge…
Okay, so we picked this one because everyone loves elephants. I have a ton of elephant sculptures and pachyderm knick-knacks in my house. At least I had a clue as to what our towel creation should ultimately look like.
In starting the towel folding, we learned quickly that when they say fold the “width” or the “length” there are two ways to intrepret both. You think you know, but then you try it and wonder if you’re doing it all wrong.
But after a bit of trial and error – and get used to accepting those terms if you dive into these creature creations – we were patting ourselves on the back at getting the feet just right.
The elephant’s head was more difficult. But it too soon began to take shape. Within 10 minutes we had created the elephant (shown at right*) ! To be honest, we were very pleased with our first effort!
Time Elapsed: 10 Minutes
Ease of Creation: Easy
Resemblance to the Book Photo: Reasonably Good
This one was a bit perplexing. It says “hook to a support,” which we didn’t seem to have anywhere in our house…..
If you don’t have a hook, then grab a friend to help hold the towel.
My mother played "the hook" while I twirled the towel's sides to create the swan’s neck. It wasn’t that easy from a handling perspective.
But we plodded on. Soon we were forming the rest of the body and pulling up the back to create the swan's swept-up tail area.
Presto, our final creation really DID look like the photo.
Time Elapsed: 12 Minutes
Ease of Creation: Moderate
Resemblance to the Book Photo: Quite Good
Stealthy Sting Ray
Mother didn’t want to make this. I did. She’s not into creepy, crawly or legless critters (much preferring the cuddy types).
But hey, I felt making a sting ray was better than making a snake or lizard.
After rolling up the towel, then flipping it over and furling it out on the one side to create the stingray body, we tackled the tail barb.
That was simple, but getting the head to stand up was a bit of a challenge.
Our finished product was so-so. It wasn’t bad, but wasn’t terrific.
Yet, in looking at the photo above right, it's far better than I originally thought it was.*
It absolutely might delight a child that loves marine life. But I don’t think my mother wants to keep it on her bed.
Time Elapsed: 11 minutes
Ease of Creation: Easy
Resemblance to the Book Photo: Hmmm….. well, not bad.
Mr. “Cool” Frog
We didn’t think the instructions were quite as specific as they could have been.
But we improvised and used “trial and error” again… and got the frog's legs in reasonably good shape.
Therein lies part of the problem. You often are making parts of an animal that you can't relate to. A headless frog?
But we pressed on. Creating the frog's head seemed hard. It just wouldn't work the way we'd hoped.
Our medium towel seemed a bit too short to wrap around the back, leaving me to wonder if we erred on one of the initial folding steps.
And when finished, we also noticed the face wasn't quite on target. The book photo had a smile. Ours (see photo above left*) did not. Perhaps Mr. Frog was as irritated about our clumsy designing efforts as we were at the not-quite-right look of him.
But we added the sunglasses and that helped cover our “less than satisfactory” final result.
But you know, I think one could become much more skilled at this towel animal job after just a few practice turns.
I reached up, made a slight adjustment and the mouth materialized to some extent (see photo at right*).
Time Elapsed: 14 minutes
Ease of Creation: Difficult
Resemblance to the Book Photo: Fair. Definitely, lots of room for improvement!
Calling it a Day
We had planned to make five towel creations for this story. To be perfectly honest, after thumbing through the rest of the book, we kept looking at each other and repeating: “That one looks too hard,” and then “that one looks REALLY hard."
In addition, in a few cases, we thought that at times the towel animals in the book didn’t look enough like the critters they’re supposed to be.
One example is the polar bear which has the face of a bird, in our opinion. We weren't too enamored with the deer either.
So we opted to “cease production.” If the people doing the book couldn’t make it look quite the way it should, what chance did we have of doing so?! (good excuse, eh?)
In the end, we settled for our four towel creatures.
We patted ourselves on the back, praised our novice efforts and admired our work.
We even remarked how quickly we did the creations. Then it hit me… We put four of these together in one hour.
In contrast, a cabin steward might have 20 or 25 cabins to clean each evening. At our snail's pace of towel art production that would take 5-6 hours of time (at our pace) just to make the towel animals, not to mention cleaning the cabins.
Now, I realize those folks probably zap out one of these critters in about 20-30 seconds. Yes, they’ve done it more often.
But still, I don’t think I’ll be applying for a cabin steward’s job anytime soon. You’d be sleeping soundly in your cabin in the wee hours while I’d be still creating your critters…. You’d come out in the morning and probably trip over a snail or deer.
Carnival says its stateroom stewards create more than nine million towel animals annually for more than 25,000 cabins. That's impressive. And the stewards also take time to add hats, sunglasses and other guest personal effects into the sculptures.
At this very moment, I have a newfound and growing appreciation of a cabin steward's talents!
How would you do in putting together these towel animals? Have you tried? If so, paste in a photo in the Guest Feedback form. If we get good photos, we’ll post them following this story.
If you want to give towel art a try, here’s the intel. "Carnival Towel Creations with Freddy" is sold in the Formalities gift shops on all 22 Carnival ships. The cost is $14.95. Alternatively, you may go to www.carnivaltowelpal.com.
For the rest of today, at least, these towel animals will grace various beds in our home.
I smile when I look at our menagerie. Perhaps that’s the real point.
A towel creation doesn't have to be perfect.
It just needs to deliver fun, cuddliness and bring a bit of joy to the beholder.
*Photos are owned, copyrighted and used courtesy of Susan J. Young. All rights reserved. Please do not link to nor copy these photos. Thank you.