According to Wikipedia -- that dubious resource on the internet -- the origin of "Towel Animals" as a nightly turndown surprise isn't known. It attributes the practice to Carnival Cruise Lines, but my guess is that it dramatically predates that company, though may have originated on one of the brands owned by Carnival (such as Cunard).
Regardless, they're fun little nightly visitors waiting to greet you as you return to your stateroom at the end of a (hopefully) long and enjoyable day.
Below are a few examples of critters we found in our cabin during our recent Holland America cruise. They range from reasonably simple (the whale) to the rather elaborate (gorilla and whatever that top critter is). (Having no idea what this one is supposed to be I made the assumption it's ghost dog Zero from the Disney movie NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS. Here's a link to that creature, what do you think?: Zero )
|Zero the Ghost Dog?|
Cruise lines surprise and delight with towel animals