No one knows for absolute certain where the concept of the towel animal came from. The idea seems to have arisen, like so many internet memes, spontaneously. There is no single individual who claims to be the originator of the towel animal. One thing is for sure – the creation and depiction of small animals by folding towels originated on the (not terribly) high seas. This phenomenon seems to be almost completely isolated to cruise ships.
Many maintain that it was started by cabin staff aboard the Carnival Cruise Line ships. The line, which specializes in short and less expensive cruises, is home to many of the ingenious creations you see here. Yet a number of other lines now give their passengers a nightly surprise too.
You can see the appeal. After a day of sightseeing or lounging on the deck, many people are delighted to find a towel animal in their cabin. They take any number of forms as you will see. The swan seems to be popular to present to couples, while the monkey, rabbit and elephant all have their places among the pantheon of towel animals - it's like a cotton based origami ark - with even an anachronistic dinosaur or two thrown in for good measure.
If the sights and sounds of a cruise are not enough, many ships have special classes which teach people how to make a towel animal. Take a look at some of the best cruise ship towel animals we could find.