Afternoon tea is much bigger in the UK than it is in America. We expected more of a crowd at the tea on the Arcadia the first time we went, but then again we went on the afternoon of the first formal night so perhaps more people come on other days – or they just find their afternoon snack at the buffet.
The tea cart we’re used to on American ships was absent. Instead, the table had a tray of sweets at either end and waiters came by serving tea sandwiches, tea breads, and scones. I keep hearing how wonderful clotted cream is, traditionally served with jam on the tea scones. The cream here had kind of a buttery texture and the English chap next to me said it was not proper clotted cream at all. Perhaps that doesn’t keep well enough to serve it on a ship. Especially one on a long cruise with just a few port stops.
They did have cute little jelly jars with different flavors of jelly though and whatever the cream substance was tasted fine with those. There’s no cows on the ship of course so fresh cream is not available. Not that I know whether or not that is an essential ingredient for clotted cream since I’ve never actually had any.
After getting scones, I noticed the other basket with the tea breads had crumpets in it. It’s been years since I had a crumpet so I had to have one of those too. It came out of the basket still warm.
The waiters came around with little pots of tea which they filled the cups from. They didn’t leave the pots, but came by often and kept the cups full. They just had one kind, but there is a tea menu you can select other flavors from. If you pick one of the flavored teas then they leave you a little teapot.
The next time we went to the P&O Arcadia’s afternoon tea I discovered tea cakes. They look something like a cross between rolls and American style biscuits. They are a bread rather than a cake, but so light and fluffy and excellent with the questionable cream substance and jam. After one taste I was hooked. Unfortunately I’ve never seen them anywhere else. Then again I’ve never been to England.
Arcadia also offers tea-time fare in their afternoon snacks in the Belevedere buffet on the Lido deck. Which explains why the dining room wasn’t as crowded as we thought it would be – more people had their tea at the buffet. Tea time there is available for a longer time period and you can take what you want without waiting to be served. They also have some other afternoon snacks so you can supplement the tea sandwiches, tea cakes, and sweets with small hot food items like mini quiche.
If you want crumpets you have to go to the dining room though because they didn’t have those on the lido.