Tell someone that you’re setting sail on a cruise and the immediate response is always, “Get ready, there’s nothing but food day and night!” Sure, during the day there are piles of crab legs and 24 hours a day ice cream, but when it comes to dinner, it’s all about quality over quantity. Disney invited me on aboard a Disney Cruise to try out these fantastic dining experiences.
On the Disney Dream, dinner is on a rotational dining plan where each night guests get to enjoy one of the three themed restaurants on board. As you change restaurants, your wait staff rotates with you, thereby knowing your preferences and giving you a feeling of comfort that your meal will be in good hands.
The first night aboard the ship, I dined at Animator’s Palate. Incredibly fun and family-friendly, this restaurant caters to fans of Disney animated movies. As if you were dining in a Disney animator’s studio, the room is filled with sketches, art supplies and familiar Disney characters. During your dining experience, the walls come to life and Undersea Magic occurs where Crush from Finding Nemo will magically interact with your group throughout your meal.
The cuisine is California-Asian, fresh fish, meat, and pasta dishes with a Pan-Asian flair. For appetizers, the Arugula and White Bean Salad with beets and orange segments was light and fresh, while the Black Truffle Pasta Purseittes were rich and full of flavor. Very opposite dishes in style but both were distinctive and delicious.
For the main dishes, vegetarians will be happy to see a variety of choices on the menu and the Black Bean Chipotle Cakes were plentiful and seasoned perfectly over brown rice with tomato-cilantro sauce. The Herb-Crusted Pork Chop was cooked to perfection and served over a tangy sun-dried tomato risotto. The portion was just the right size to move on to dessert.
When it comes to dessert, a cookies and cream ice cream sundae was hard to resist and the dessert trio of lemon tart, cheesecake, and mango mousse were classics that paired perfectly with the lively atmosphere of Animator’s Palate.
Even though you have three set dinner options, it’s always a treat to venture off and enjoy an elegant meal for one of your nights. That’s exactly what I did on the second night when we dined at Palo, an opulent fine dining Italian restaurant.
You know you’re in for an elegant dining experience when the waiter rolls up to the table with a cart filled to the brim with fresh, delicious antipasti. Prosciutto, Parmesano Reggiano, sun-dried tomatoes, and olives all drizzled in a thick aged balsamic vinegar. I had second thoughts about even ordering dinner, I could have just dined off of the antipasti cart all night.
Appetizers Mozzarella Caprese and Fritto di Calamari were, again, two different starters in that one was light and the other a bit more substantial, but both were prepared perfectly and proportioned well for what was to come. Main dishes of lobster papparadelle and pan-seared turbot were so rich and flavorful you never wanted to the meal to end.
Still there was dessert, and no less than three people told me before I boarded the ship that the Chocolate Souffle was a must and they were exactly right. Served warm with vanilla bean, chocolate sauce, and ice cream, this luxurious dessert was easily my favorite of the whole trip.
Finally, for our final night we dined at Royal Palace, which also served as our breakfast spot before we were to disembark the next day. Inspired by classic Disney Princesses Cinderella, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Sleeping Beauty, and Beauty and the Beast, the Royal Palace is like dining within a Disney fairy tale. Waiters are decked out in footman attired while the interiors displayed all the elegance of a princess’ dream: marble floors, tiara detailing, and elegant chandiliers.
The menu has heavy French influences, serving fare like escargot and duck confit. The leek and potato soup was a good stick-to-your-bones starter while the iced lobster and shrimp salad was a delightfully light seafood appetizer.
The Roasted Rack of Lamb and Chateaubriand were both classic dishes, sauced and served splendidly. Since your wait staff is familiar with your preferences, you can guarantee that the meat will always be cooked to your liking. It’s of note that the bread service at all the Disney Dream restaurants was insanely good but the charm of Royal Palace delivering a fresh baked brioche in a wire princess coach definitely won me over.
No royal feast is complete without dessert. Creme Brulee proves to be the ideal way to end a French-American meal with the Apple Tartin coming in as a close second.
All in all every meal aboard the Disney Dream was above and beyond what I expected from cruise fare. The care and service delivered at every meal never disappointed. Whether it’s on land or at sea, Disney is the best when it comes to a fabulous dining experience.
Have you dined on a Disney Cruise? Check out all the photos in the gallery and let us know your favorite meal in the comments!
Disclosure: Disney provided travel and items for review with no compensation. All opinions are my own.
Images: Jenn Fujikawa