Sailing away on a cruise ship is a great way to get away from it all, and with a Disney Cruise Line cruise it’s a chance to enjoy the magic of Disney without stepping foot in the parks. The Disney Parks & Resorts are known for being one of the top destinations for gluten free and food allergy vacationers, so it seems only natural that the Disney Cruise Line would be equally wonderful at accommodating special dietary needs.
*This dining experience took place in October 2014.
Sailing away on our 3 day cruise on the Disney Dream was such a wonderful time, and I can honestly say those 3 days flew by so quickly. With amazing meals that included Palo and Remy, it’s a wonder I didn’t come back gaining 10 pounds! So, as you can imagine, our final breakfast aboard the Disney Dream was bittersweet.
When you dine at your debarkation breakfast you eat at the same location you dined the night before, rather than the traditional rotational dining. For us, this meant dining at Animator’s Palate again.
The breakfast is also a standard menu served at all of the dining locations and is different from the regular a la carte breakfast menu. Additionally, be prepared to dine early. I think we were at our breakfast by 6:30 a.m. There are two seatings for breakfast, and you’ll dine really early (like we did) or a little later in the morning (but still fairly early) depending on whether or not you dined at the first or second dinner seating. You have to be completely out of your stateroom around 8 a.m. so dining early was OK by us.
Our head server and server assisted me with my breakfast options. What I really wanted was the corned beef hash and eggs, but unfortunately, it contained gluten. I ended up with the Route 66 entree minus the hash browns (which also contain gluten) and a side of gluten free & dairy free pancakes. I also got an apple juice and iced tea to wake myself up!
For my main entree, I would say this was just OK. Like my breakfast at Royal Palace, I didn’t think it was anything to write home about but was sufficient in both portion and taste. Next time, I think I’d ask for just ham and bacon and skip the sausage, as it wasn’t my favorite.
The pancakes were just OK here as well. My favorite version of the gluten free and dairy free pancakes were definitely at Royal Palace – they were really well cooked and perfectly crisp on the outside. Cabanas was my least favorite (they were practically inedible). These were somewhere in the middle of those two.
The restaurant is busily trying to prep for the next breakfast and to get you off the ship promptly, so don’t expect this to be a very relaxing meal. Everything came out super quick and the servers were working hard to shuttle everyone out as efficiently as they could. My mom and I had our dining table to ourselves that morning, as our table-mates didn’t join us (they were debarking and then getting back on the ship for another 3 day cruise – lucky ducks!), so that made for a really lovely last meal on the ship.
I have to say that overall my Disney Cruise Line experience was wonderful. Once I learned a lot of the ins and outs of how the ship handles special diets, I was able to eat a lot of amazing things. If you are looking for really customized meals, the adult dining is the way to go. We loved Palo and Remy a lot and plan on dining at Palo on every future cruise that we do (and I’m dying to try out brunch!).
After our short cruise, I can easily see why others love the Disney Cruise Line so much. You can read about gluten free cruise reviews from Alexis over at Gluten Free in Orlando. She has posted several cruise recaps.
Have you ever been on a Disney Cruise? What were your favorite meals?
*This dining experience took place in October 2014.
When it came to regular rotational dining on my recent Disney Dream cruise, my mom and I chose not to dine at any except Animator’s Palate for the majority of our cruise, as we wanted to take advantage of the adult dining locations Palo and Remy. We did request ahead of time that our rotational dining include Animator’s Palate on our last night, and luckily, that request came through!
We were looking forward to Animator’s Palate more for the atmosphere than the food but were curious to see how the rotational dining option would fare. We were also curious about the seating arrangements since we’d spent the majority of our cruise dining solo at our meal tables.
When we were seated we found out we were at a table for 4 and that our dinner table mates were another mother daughter pair. Our assistant server, server, and head server were hilarious as they were like, “oh you finally showed up!” and were actually all very lovely and accommodating. They were well aware of my dietary needs and said they’d be taking good care of me.
The decor in Animator’s Palate is cute, with lots of fun and whimsical touches. Animator’s Palate is on all of the Disney Cruise Line ships and each has a distinct theme. The Disney Dream’s is Finding Nemo. Super cute!
The Animator’s Palate menu actually lists gluten free and dairy free options, which was interesting. I noted the shrimp salad said it wasn’t dairy free, and when I asked about it they said it was because of the egg (which is not really dairy). So, if you think you’re interested in a dish, let your server know because it might actually be safe or easily modified.
First up, my server brought me Ener-G rolls. They weren’t heated that well, but smothered in extra virgin olive oil, I was able to eat a bit of them.
First up, I ordered the roasted red bell pepper salad with zucchini and red onion salad served in a balsamic vinaigrette. This was my least favorite part of my meal. The salad was super bland and the dressing did not even remotely resemble a balsamic vinaigrette (there was not hint of balsamic at all). It said it came with cilantro but I could see or taste any. Next time, I’d look for something else as a starter.
Next up, I ordered the shrimp salad with cucumber, red onion and hard boiled egg. It wasn’t at all what I had envisioned but I actually really loved this. The shrimp was marinated in dill (which I love) and the dish reminded me of Scandinavian shrimp salad (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, visit an Ikea cafeteria!) It wasn’t minced or small, so it was rather like a chop salad but tasty. If you don’t like cucumber or red onion, probably not the dish for you.
For my entree, I chose the snapper with scallops, crushed potatoes and a salsa verde. This dish was OK but not great. I liked the snapper, the asparagus, the lone scallop and the sauce. However, the dish was totally not as described. This salsa verde did not resemble any salsa verde I’ve ever had…um, to begin with folks salsa verde is green. Hence the verde point for those who speak Spanish! The crushed potatoes were actually mashed potatoes and they omitted the dairy for me. I wouldn’t say it was a terrible dish just needs a different description.
For my dessert, I was told they had a chocolate cake for me. The lighting on this photo is bad, but it was nicely presented. It came with Hershey’s chocolate syrup. I had heard that the chocolate cake might also be sugar free, but when I asked they couldn’t tell me for sure. It wasn’t a bad chocolate cake and satisfied me at the end of the meal. I think they might have used Namaste mix for the cake.
Overall, I can’t say that I loved Animator’s Plate or was wowed by the food. However, it was filling and fairly tasty. Alexis from Gluten Free in Orlando also noted that on her review from the Disney Dream.
We also dined here on debarkation day for breakfast, so stay tuned for that review!
Have you been to Animator’s Palate? What did you order when you dined there?
*This dining experience took place in October 2014
Castaway Cay is Disney’s private island, and when you sail on a Disney Cruise Line that is near it, you will get a full day to enjoy this amazing location. It was the highlight of my trip, and I admit, I could have stayed here forever. It was so much fun to rest and relax and enjoy the crystal blue waters. Even as a Florida resident who has access to amazing beaches, I was pretty blown away by the water at Castaway Cay.
One of the things to note at Castaway Cay is that it has 3 dining options – Cookie’s BBQ, Cookie’s Too BBQ, and the Serenity Bay BBQ. Serenity Bay is the adults only beach, and a welcome place to get away from it all. So it was nice to see that they had an adults only restaurant available there.
After an early breakfast at Cabanas, my mom and I got off the ship bright and early around 8:30 a.m. We were one of the first folks off the ship and decided to take advantage of that by taking lots of photos and meandering.
My mom and I took a leisurely stroll from the dock to Serenity Bay (fair warning, it’s a hike). Along the way we took photos of the various meal locations (among other things). We planned on dining at the adults only restaurant since it was easily located at Serenity Bay.
We spent much of the morning at the beach and when the time came for lunch we headed to the Serenity Bay BBQ. I spoke with a cast member there who said they could make up some options but that they recommended we go to one of the other two dining locations as they would be better equipped to handle my requests.
First up, we went to Cookie’s Too BBQ which was closer than Cookie’s BBQ. When we got there the cast member I spoke to told me that they were unable to accommodate there at all (versus Serenity Bay which said they could offer me stuff just reduced options). They told me to head along to Cookie’s BBQ for special diets accommodations. Let’s just say my mom and I worked off our food that day!
Cookie’s BBQ is an open air buffet with a lot of great BBQ type food. I spoke with a cast member who got the manager on duty. They went over some of the options with me that included, mahi mahi, roasted chicken, and burgers. They said they had gluten free and dairy free buns on hand. Unfortunately, they told me the ribs were not gluten free. That’s a bummer since I had heard about them from Gluten Free in Orlando. I was told they contained soy sauce.
While I waited for my plate to be made, I also grabbed a bag of Lay’s plain potato chips which are gluten free. I also caught up with my friends who as luck would have it were dining at the same time and had pre-ordered their food. Unfortunately, they lost my friends pre-order but somehow had her daughter’s. After seeing the pre-order, I was glad I ordered food when I got there. Plain chicken is not particularly a highlight for me culinary-wise.
You’ll notice that her plate was from Animator’s Palate, as that is where they dined the night before.
I was pleased to get my plate which was huge. I had a generous portion of Mahi Mahi, Roasted Chicken, and a Burger. The mahi mahi was OK. It wasn’t my favorite but it wasn’t bad either. The burger was also nothing amazing, but it was good. I did not enjoy the bun, as it was rather dry and not very heated. In hindsight, I’d just get a burger, no bun with all the fixins’. The roasted chicken was the absolute star of this meal. It was insanely delicious! Note to self, skip the mahi and order extra chicken next time!
Cookie’s BBQ also has a huge fresh fruit station, which was awesome! In this photo, they are still setting it up, but during lunch they were carving fresh pineapple and papaya among other things. It was the perfect light dessert, and I loaded up on freshly cut pineapple slices. Delicious!
If you’re just gluten free, you’ll have access to soft serve ice cream too, which I’m told is safe.
Overall, despite being shuffled to three locations, I really enjoyed the lunch at Cookie’s BBQ. The roasted chicken was so amazing, and I will definitely be getting it again on my next cruise. Next time, I might gamble with the Serenity Bay BBQ, as it looked like the menu was mostly the same. I can always go for a burger with no bun!
Have you been to Castaway Cay? What did you get at Cookie’s BBQ?
*This dining experience took place in October 2014.
Cabanas is the Disney Dream’s main buffet serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. While I had dined here on embarkation day, I didn’t find it to be my personal favorite on the cruise ship. I much preferred Enchanted Garden for embarkation lunch or Royal Palace for breakfast and lunch a la carte.
However, on our Castaway Cay day we wanted to be off the ship bright and early (around 8:30 a.m.) to really enjoy the full day at Castaway Cay. This meant that our best option was Cabanas for dining early. The restaurant opens at 7 a.m. with a continental breakfast and begins serving full breakfast at 7:30 a.m. We got there just around 7:30 so good timing on our part.
I made sure to ask a cast member for a head server who could assist with special dietary needs and was greeted by Dogan who helped me at Cabanas on day 1 but whom I’d also seen at other restaurants. He immediately greeted me by name and knew my special dietary needs. It’s kind of great how the cast members start to know you throughout your trip!
I told him that I was interested in the gluten free and dairy free pancakes as I’d had some killer ones at Royal Palace the day before. I also asked for ham and scrambled eggs. Dogan asked me if I wanted any muffins or donuts, and I said that I’d like one of each (I ended up with more than that though). I was told they had blueberry and chocolate chip muffins on hand.
My mom and I decided to sit out on the deck since we had docked at Castaway Cay and it was a gorgeous morning. I let Dogan know where I would be and off I went to grab some beverages and enjoy the amazing view.
For my drinks, I grabbed some water and some apple juice. I like the variety of juices available at Cabanas.
I’m not gonna lie, the wait was a bit long for breakfast. Dogan said he thought it would come out fairly quickly but it was probably 20 minutes, which in the grand scheme of things isn’t long, but sure feels long when others are eating (and my mom finished her meal before I got mine).
My scrambled eggs for breakfast were perfectly fine. Nothing exciting but tasty. The breakfast ham was a bit thin and reminded me of deli ham. I kind of joked that if you put the ham and egg on a gluten free English muffin, you’d have an egg McMuffin going on. That’s what the flavors reminded me of.
Unfortunately, the silver dollar pancakes were the worst part of my breakfast. They were just dreadful. Not at all like the light and airy (and crispy) version I had at Royal Palace the day before. These were tough and almost dead-baked inside. I gave my mom a bite and she agreed that they were not good at all. She had also tried the ones at Royal Palace and said that they were terrific. These were not.
Dogan brought me two of each of the muffins and donuts. These were Kinnikinnick brand and definitely staples I enjoy and love. I would have loved a chocolate chip muffin (my favorite!) but the blueberry are good too. I loved the vanilla glazed donuts. Pretty sure I ate both of those. Put Kinnikinnick donuts in front of me and I will eat them!
Overall, I found Cabanas to be an adequate breakfast but not my favorite by any means. Next time, I’d just wait until one of the a la carte options opens and head to Castaway Cay just a little later. It was very quiet at Serenity Bay until around 11 a.m. so, even leaving an hour later would be totally worth it to eat at the a la carte meal. Cabanas was also quite busy early in the morning, so if you dine here, plan ahead!
Have you dined at Cabanas on the Disney Dream? What did you think of it?
*This dining experience took place in October 2014.
Palo is the Disney Dream’s second adult dining location. With an upcharge of $25 per person, it offers an adults only dining experience at a reasonable price. While my dining experience at Remy was decadent, it’s not someplace I would dine on every cruise (I consider it a special occasion restaurant). Palo is one I would dine at every night if I could.
Our regular rotational meal that night was slated for the Enchanted Garden. I’m a bit bummed we did miss dining here, as we only visited once during the embarkation lunch, but after dining at Palo, I’m not too sad. It was terrific!
Palo’s culinary theme is Italian, and while I didn’t love the decor (it’s a little too 80s Italian for me), the food was fantastic. When we arrived, we were directed to the Meridian Lounge (shared with Remy) and met up with my friends who were dining at Palo for the second night in a row (it’s that good!). We enjoyed chatting with them for a bit and then were seated in Palo with a lovely window view.
Our server Andrea was the highlight in service for our trip. She made the meal exceptional and really did a terrific job at making us feel comfortable and welcome. She went over the menu with us, noting that the restaurant was aware of my special dietary needs.
Up first, were brought an antipasti cart – table-side. The only thing I couldn’t eat was the parmesan cheese, so we had a heaping plate of marinated olives, red bell peppers, artichokes, prosciutto, and other cure meats. This was the best pre-course treat. My mom and I both raved and said we could eat this at every meal.
I was also brought my favorite bread of the trip – Udi’s Gluten Free pizza crust topped with extra virgin olive oil, garlic and fresh basil. It was heated and cut into wedges and was oh so delicious. I actually topped the bread with some of the antipasti which was delicious.
While we enjoyed this, Andrea went over options for us. She had some recommendations for me that might be good choices. I opted for the cioppino as my starter and two entrees – the seafood risotto and the scallops with barlotti beans. The second entree was to be shared with my mom, as we learned this trick from our friends who said it worked great at their previous Palo meals.
Before our appetizers, we were served a lemon sorbet as a palate cleanser. This was so fresh and light. I could eat this kind of sorbet all the time!
The cioppino was a huge dish considering it was a starter. With a rich tomato broth and a variety of seafood in it, it was a great way to start the meal. I wouldn’t say it was the best cioppino I’ve ever had, but it was quite good.
My our entrees, I dove into the scallops first so that my mom could have the other half. I will say, this was my least favorite dish of the entire cruise. If you like fennel this would be your thing. I found the fennel entirely too overwhelming and the scallop & barlotti bean combination to be odd. The beans were more al dente than I would have preferred. They were nothing like the decadent and rich version I had at Ravello (which I adored). My mom also did not like this dish, so I’m glad we got it as a dish to split.
My main course was the seafood risotto, which they had to modify some for me. I probably should have opted for something else, as I was missing the zucchini that came with it (which I really wanted). Despite that, the dish was very good. If you like seafood, it was filled to the brim with it. From mussels to scallops, calamari, and shrimp — there was no shortage in this dish.
At this point, I was very full and assumed my dessert option would be sorbet. However, I was pleasantly surprised when Andrea said they had an almond orange cake available to me. Cake?! Well, you know those were the magic words to me. Rarely do I get a dessert that is non brownie or sorbet based, so I was thrilled.
And I was not disappointed. This dessert was beyond amazing. It was made with almond flour, so it was rather dense almost like a pound cake. The rich flavor of the almond and oranges blended together nicely. The cake itself wasn’t very sweet but had some powdered sugar on top to add a touch of sweetness. On the side, I had fresh raspberries and orange segments which were perfect accompaniments.
I liked this cake so much, I actually asked if I could have one to go. Palo doesn’t have containers or bags, but they kindly plated up a new dessert for me after our meal was complete and gave me silverware so I could take it back to the room. How cool is that?
Andrea also brought us another dessert – the strawberry basil sorbet with fresh fruit. This was so delicious too! It reminded me of the raspberry mint sorbet that I used to love at Sanaa. Dessert here blew Remy away!
After our meal, we were given a digestif (after dinner palate cleanser) of prosecco and lemon sorbet. This was another winner at Palo.
Overall, my mom and I both loved our meal at Palo (she had some amazing courses – pro tip – get the Palo signature steak dish if you like steak; you won’t be sorry) and agreed that we wouldn’t hesitate to go back again.
For the upcharge, food quality, service, and ambiance, we thought it couldn’t be beat. We actually said we’d eat here twice on a 3-4 day cruise because it was that good. I’m dying to try out brunch at Palo especially after reading reviews from my friends Sarah at Eating WDW and Alexis from Gluten Free in Orlando!
Have you been to Palo? What did you think of it?